Mets Game 84: Loss to Cubs

Cubs 8 Mets 7

The cardiac kids nearly pulled off another last-inning, dramatic victory, but instead, it was a case of too little, too late.

Mets Game Notes

From the first batter of the game, it was clear that Johan Santana didn’t “have it.” His second pitch of the game — a chest-high, flat fastball on the outside part of the plate — was swatted deep into the left field seats by Reed Johnson. Granted, the wind helped the ball a bit, but it traveled far enough to clear the old Citi Field wall, so it was no Port St. Lucie floater. Santana’s fastball hovered in the 86-87 MPH range during most of his outing, and he couldn’t command his slider; he kept burying it or floated it up. The change-up was working fairly well, and induced swings and misses, but Santana could ride that pitch only so long. (Occasionally, his change-up was identified as a slider by the SNY broadcasters; however, when your “slider” is 78/79 MPH and nearly 10 MPH slower than your fastball, I still call that a “changeup.”) He allowed 13 hits and 7 earned runs in 4 2/3 innings, with five of those earned runs coming after Santana was stepped on while covering first base. Was the foot injury the reason Santana gave up five runs in the fifth? I’m not so sure. His fastball was high and flat before the altercation, and the Cubs were starting to hit early in the count to avoid the changeup. The Cubs did have five hits — including three for extra bases — in the first four frames, so they seemed to be comfortable hitting against him. Further, to me, it looked like Santana’s location and velocity on his fastball was similar if not exactly what it was before the collision. Anthony Rizzo‘s three-run homer was on a hanging slider; as mentioned earlier, Santana was either burying or floating the slider all night. Jeff Baker‘s blast was on a high change-up — that was unusual, as Santana’s change was otherwise fairly consistently down in the zone.

Regarding that collision at first base, it was surprising to see Santana in such a bad position. I know the toss to him put him in an awkward position, but he took a poor route toward first base — making a bee-line to the home-plate side of the base, instead of a slightly curved path toward the 2B-side of the base — that caused his momentum to carry him into the batter-runner’s path. Santana is a Gold Glove caliber fielder and knows better. He’s probably practiced and executed that play at least a hundred-thousand times — he can probably get to the first base bag from his follow through with his eyes closed. Just a strange thing for him to do.

Thanks to Carlos Marmol, the ninth inning was very entertaining. I can’t imagine how Cubs manager Dale Sveum can continue to put Marmol out there whenever they have a lead in the ninth — because absolutely no lead is safe with Marmol on the mound. My guess is the Cubs are hoping against hope that Marmol will convert enough saves, and/or start to throw effectively enough, that they can get something decent for him at the trade deadline.

Next Mets Game

The Mets and Cubs do it again at 4:10 p.m. on Saturday afternoon. Dillon Gee faces Jeff Samardzija.

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.