Mets Game 71: Win Over Yankees

Mets 6 Yankees 4

Mets get a taste of victory against the Yankees — and the flavor is just like chicken.

Mets Game Notes

For the second consecutive start against them, Andy Pettitte struggled early. In a 33-pitch first frame, Pettitte couldn’t locate his curve, couldn’t locate his change-up, and struggled with his cutter. As a result, the patient Mets sat back and either walked or beat up on his fastball. Even Mike Nickeas and Jonathon Niese rapped clean base hits (back to back) in that initial inning.

Meanwhile, Niese had his own struggles early as well, but hung tough with runners on base and prevented the Yankees from scoring. I like his toughness, but I don’t like his gradually lowering arm angle. He threw several pitches from a sidearm slot and many more at an angle between sidearm and three-quarters — too low to get any kind of good downward movement on pitches, particularly the curveball. His low arm angle is a red flag: is there something wrong with his shoulder?

The crushing blow of the game came in that fateful first, when Ike Davis lifted a Pettitte pitch off of Nick Swisher‘s glove and into the right field seats. If Davis is still available in your fantasy league, pick him up — he’s finally red-hot.

In contrast, Robinson Cano looks really off. He was defensive on pitches when ahead on the count, behind most fastballs, and beaten / fooled by high heat above the strike zone. Well, except for that two-run bomb against Miguel Batista.

Speaking of Batista, he had his usual mediocre stuff but was keeping the Yanks off-balance by mixing speeds and mixing tempo. He varied the time he took between pitches sporadically and significantly, and I truly believe that by itself was throwing off the Bronx Bombers’ timing. There were times during the Cano at-bat that Batista paused uncomfortably long, and there were a few “quick pitches” delivered to other hitters. When you have ordinary stuff, you need to be as wily as possible.

I was surprised that Yankees manager Joe Girardi didn’t have a pinch-runner for Raul Ibanez on first base in the ninth with one out and Frank Francisco — who never throws to 1B — on the mound. Further, I was surprised that Ibanez wasn’t stealing second to eliminate the double play. I can sort of understand why there wasn’t a pinch-runner — it was a tight game that could go into extras, in which case Girardi needed all of his bodies. But it’s stunning to me that everyone in baseball knows that Francisco cannot and will not throw to 1B, yet no one takes advantage by stealing on him blind.

Next Mets Game

The Mets and Yankees do it again on Saturday night at 7:15 p.m. Chris Young goes to the hill against Ivan Nova.

Joe Janish began MetsToday in 2005 to provide the unique perspective of a high-level player and coach -- he earned NCAA D-1 All-American honors as a catcher and coached several players who went on to play pro ball. As a result his posts often include mechanical evaluations, scout-like analysis, and opinions that go beyond the numbers. Follow Joe's baseball tips on Twitter at @onbaseball and at the On Baseball Google Plus page.
  1. DaveSchneck June 23, 2012 at 12:41 am
    Sometime soon, Effy F is not going to get out of the hole he digs in the 9th. Good thing it wasn’t tonight.. Plus 7 is good.Time to go get an 8th inning solution. IK admire Batista’s savvy, but not in the 8th or 9th.
  2. gary s. June 23, 2012 at 7:04 am
    Batista at best, should be the mop up man.Having ths reject pitch the 8th is beyond my comprehension.Of course, having 2 washed up has beens batting first and second (Torres and Cedeno) makes no sense either.Good starting pitching will negate TC’s lineups and in game moves.At least it has so far
    • Quinn June 23, 2012 at 8:43 am
      He is pitching the 8th because he has a 4.08 era which has gone down considerably since the begining of the season. Plus it has been working Parnell 7 Batista 8 and the Chicken slayer in the 9th. Frank Frank is 3rd in the NL in saves so while its not easy to wach he is doing something right. Our bulpen has not performed well so Tchas to ride the hot hand of the moment that is currently batista. As for the has beens they are never weres but with injuries what else is there to expect?
      • gary s. June 23, 2012 at 1:39 pm
        Agreed.If Torres and Cedeno have to play bat them 7th and 8th.The less ab’s the better for these out machines
  3. Joe June 23, 2012 at 9:04 am
    Batista’s slow stuff reminds me of a scene from Major League 3 where a slugger is thrown off by “Doc’s” stuff, stuff that makes RJ’s slow knuckball look like hot sauce.

    Batista and Pettite pitching in the same game is like Indiana Jones coming back years later. Ah the memories. Batista still has a purpose — after a bad few, he was a credible spot starter. I’m not game for him to be the 8 inning guy, but he still gets guys out. The Mets need another reliever. Hefner shouldn’t be doing nothing — send him to the minors to pitch every five days.

    Since FF never throws the first and keeps on getting runners on, why aren’t there more steals on him? That is strange.

    The Mets won by inches — Petitte settled down and the scoring was 1-4 after the first inning. Still, even one tack on run shows the value of that concept. Collins should do an antacaid commercial though with that pen.

    • Joe June 23, 2012 at 9:17 am
      “slow stuff” should be understood to mean “taking a long time to pitch” etc.
  4. James June 23, 2012 at 11:04 am
    Francisco has ice in his veins with the game on the line. I still like him, he’s our $10 closer. Since this team is still a year from real world series potential anyway, that’s fine. The bigger problem is finding a real set up man and I would not give up any prospects for that. We have to gut it out this year and accept our 80-85 wins and not sacrifice the farm system for the playoffs (which we probably not win anyway).
  5. Andrew June 23, 2012 at 1:53 pm
    I have to think Batista is a short term solution in the 8th. They want to build Parnell’s confidence a bit and have him graduate to that slot – say, right before the ASB assuming all continues to go well with him. Then he has something to feel good about over the break.

    Meanwhile, Jenrry Mejia comes up and takes the 7th; Batista returns to mop up and spot start duty.

    Same thing with Torres, incidentally; he’s a late inning defensive replacement waiting to happen once Niuewenhuis claims the job for good, or who knows maybe Matt Den Dekker.

  6. Gabriel Pena June 23, 2012 at 5:16 pm
    Joe Girardi praised Niese’s ability to throw an effective cutter, he said that pitch should be his no.1 weapon. We all know how Janish feels about Niese’s cutter but everybody else seems to love it. Will Niese drop the use of the curveball to benefit the cutter? Should he do the opposite? What other pitch can he use?
    • Joe Janish June 23, 2012 at 11:08 pm
      Girardi has seen Niese pitch what, twice? I’ve seen him pitch over seventy times, so I’m confident that I know more about Niese than Joe Girardi. If Niese decides his #1 weapon is his cutter, he’ll need to move to one-inning relief to succeed.

      Niese throws a cutter because his fastball doesn’t have enough movement. Throwing the cutter causes Niese to fall into a habit of throwing from a lower arm angle that a) flattens all pitches; b) puts strain on his arm; c) tips pitches to the opposition; and d) makes it impossible to throw effectively what is REALLY his #1 weapon, his curveball. If Niese were like Pettitte and able to keep a consistent arm angle on all pitches, I might feel differently. Personally, I believe Niese should either use the cutter sparingly, or scrap it for a true slider that is used maybe 3-4 times a game, and work harder on perfecting his change-up. He doesn’t need another pitch, he merely needs to hone the ones he has.