Mets Game 88: Loss to Braves

Braves 8 Mets 7

What happened?

Mets Game Notes

Thanks to terrible managing by Fredi Gonzalez, a bad decision by Braves 3B coach Brian Snitker, and a lucky bounce off the wall on a Dan Uggla rocket, the Mets were in position to win this ballgame despite their two MVPs having off-days. Then Bobby Parnell came into the game for a potential five-out save; instead, it became a two-out appearance and loss.

Bob Geren took over as manager of the Mets after Terry Collins was tossed from the game. Officially, Geren made the decision to bring in Parnell in the 8th for the five-out save — and make a double-switch that removed Ruben Tejada from the game. I’d be curious to know if it was actually Geren making those moves, or if it was Collins communicating decisions from the clubhouse.

Parnell just threw one fastball after another over the middle of the plate until the Braves scored three runs. Mix in a breaking pitch or something, eh? It looked like Martin Prado was surprised to get two consecutive fastballs over the heart of the plate, waist-high, in the eighth — he was beating himself up for not swinging at them. But he swung at the third fastball and lined it into right field to drive in the tying run. Jason Heyward followed by hitting yet another fastball through the shortstop hole to drive in the winning run. No, I don’t think Tejada would have gloved it; Cedeno has equal if not better range, and the Mets defense was positioned expecting Heyward to pull.

Who says the Mets need David Wright? They put up a seven-spot while their All-Star third baseman contributed nothing but an occasional cooling breeze. Wright went 0-for-5 with four strikeouts (three looking), yet the Mets scored seven runs. That’s the news of the day.

In similarly strange news, Mets’ first-half co-MVP R.A. Dickey‘s knuckleball was spinning — which means it wasn’t very good — and he exited the game after only five frames of work and five earned runs allowed. But, the Mets bailed him out to bestow upon him his 13th victory of the year. I think R.A. realized the knuckler was rotating too much and tried to paint the corners with it instead of aiming for a general spot in the middle of the plate and letting mother nature take care of the rest. As a result, he threw far more balls than usual, and fell behind hitters a bit more frequently than normal.

The Braves’ big chance to break the game open came in the second inning, when they started a rally thanks to a Daniel Murphy error. Except, the official scorer decided to give hometown boy Freddie Freeman a hit instead of charging an error. Disappointing, and yet another example of an endemic running around baseball recently. Just as disappointing was seeing Freeman lollygag his baby-fat butt up the first base line after making contact. First, I hate, hate, hate seeing a player not hustle. Second, Freeman clearly had no idea where Murphy was playing — which was short right field. If Freeman was paying attention, he’d have definitely hustled on his dribbler, knowing Murphy would never get to the ball in time. But he assumed the worst and jogged for the first 50 feet, then realized he had a chance to be safe and only then ran 100%. And the reason that play should have been called an error is because a legitimate Major League second baseman is playing at a depth where that soft bouncer is a routine groundout. Yeah, it’s nice that Freeman gets a hit he didn’t deserve and Murphy doesn’t have an error charged, but in the end, R.A. Dickey is the victim of a baserunner and eventual earned run he doesn’t deserve.

Now, I got off the tracks there for a moment; because there’s another reason the Braves could have broken the game open in the second. They had R.A. on the ropes, with runners on the bases all inning. After Eric Hinske doubled with two outs to make the score 2-1 Braves, Michael Bourn followed with a single that scored Uggla, but Snitker waved the lead-footed Hinske home as well. Hinske was out by at least 15 feet to end the inning. I get forcing the opponent to make a play, and I generally like to be aggressive, especially with two outs. But, in that situation, Dickey was struggling, his knuckler was spinning, and a very good contact hitter (who happens to hit R.A. well) in Martin Prado was waiting on deck. Taking all that into consideration, it doesn’t make sense to take a chance with Hinske lumbering around third. I think that inning could have been a lot worse for the Mets had Hinske been held.

Jordany Valdespin was safe by a mile on a drag bunt in the fifth, but as he passed through the bag he looked at the umpire and demostrated a “safe” call. First base umpire C.B. Buckner called him out, and I wonder if Buckner missed the call or if he was ticked off by Valdy’s suggestion.

Terry Collins was thrown out of the game after arguing a confusing play in which Valdespin trapped a fly ball. One umpire held his fist up making an “out” call, and the other umpire was making no call. Baserunner Martin Prado ran to second base, thinking the ball was trapped, but then saw the out call and retreated to first base. Valdy threw the ball in to Murphy, who didn’t step on second before relaying to Ike Davis, who may or may not have tagged Prado. Technically, it could be argued that Prado was safe because Murphy didn’t tag second base to complete the force-out on what was a single. But, he didn’t, and I’m not sure it mattered. I think what happened was that the umpires discussed the situation and realized Prado was misled by the out call, and gave him second base. On Twitter, Mets fans were losing their minds about the call but looking at it objectively, it was the right decision. A few minutes later, Freddie Freeman hit a two-run double, which really set Twitter afire. The anger, in my opinion, was misplaced.

As it was, the Mets came right back with two runs to tie it up, so it all came out in the wash.

Josh Edgin looked impressive once again in a one-inning appearance. It looks like he’ll be just fine, and fairly effective, as a LOOGY over the long term. For now, he’ll do well just on the basis of NL hitters never seeing him before. Additionally, the Braves lefty hitters seemed to have a hard time picking up the ball out of his hand; it was like the ball was getting on top of them before they could decide whether to swing. He must hide the ball well and have good late movement. However, based on his lack of consistent command, I’m not sure about using him for full innings plus going forward.

The FOX broadcasters put me to sleep. There was an occasional, mildly interesting tidbit thrown in, but for the most part their commentary was a snoozefest. The best part came when Phil Niekro made an appearance in the booth.

Next Mets Game

The final game of the series begins on Sunday afternoon at 1:35 p.m. Johan Santana goes to the hill against Ben Sheets. No, that isn’t a typo — Ben Sheets is back, making his first start since the Reagan administration. OK, it hasn’t been that long; his last game was July 2010. Will be interesting to see how he looks. It’s a curious move, considering that the Braves just signed him on July 1, and he’s thrown only 10 innings in AA, posting a 5.06 ERA.

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. Wohjr July 14, 2012 at 8:10 pm
    The clock has struck midnight: these boys lOok like they’re changing back into pumpkins. Absolutely pathetic ab by duda in the 9th, send that guy down…. David looked like he was at the gold club late last night. Nats coming up, we could be lOokin at a really ugly stretch coming up. Byrdak issues one more lead off walk and I will mail him a turd myself. Not good.
  2. Wohjr July 14, 2012 at 8:15 pm
    Johan loses tomorrow and the season is done ski. Call up Harvey, Play jordaanny and Kirk every day. CUT BAY. Trade David.
    • Crozier July 14, 2012 at 11:00 pm
      Don’t stop there. Designate Dickey for assignment. Put Tejada on waivers. Replace Collins with Tony Bernazard. Make Choo Choo Coleman pitching coach.

      Or better yet, take a deep breath, man.

  3. DaveSchneck July 14, 2012 at 11:32 pm
    I can’t write this team off because they have proven resiliency all year. That said, this pen, without double f, has no one that can handle the 8th no less the 9th. Tbhey need a closer now, not at July 31. If there is no market at this time, and they fall further behind over the next week or two, I will vote for selling at July 31. Just too short on arms.
  4. Crozier July 15, 2012 at 12:32 am
    All the talk about buying vs. selling — as if it were a requirement to do one or the other — has me puzzled. The Mets have proven themselves a capable third place team this year — all year, pretty much.There’s nothing particularly terrific or terrible about them. They have great pitching prospects coming up next year, and have an offense right now that’s no fluke; they score runs. So why do they have to buy or sell? Last year they sold for financial reasons. Minus financial concerns, Beltran is still with the club, and it’s in second place, if not first.
  5. srozell July 15, 2012 at 12:54 am
    I’m not one who usually wishes for the [baseball] stars but this formerly wonderful season is about to fade to memory.

    Need #1: A consistent, legitimate power bat. Watching Duda in that 1 AB tonight, you can tell that the league has figured him out perfectly (fastballs away and lots of bouncing sliders/off-speed stuff). Bring in Josh Willingham, pay the Twins with DenDekker or Kirk and a “B” prospect.

    Need #2: Bring up Harvey and drop Batista. His value as a “spot” starter is way over-rated.

    Need #3: Power hitting catcher. Whether it’s Stoppach or Olivo, I don’t care. Not only will it bring a threat against lefties, but it also gives you a real pinch hitter with the game on the line. Imagine Nickeas as the last rightie on the bench with a play-off spot on the line. Scarrrry thought.

    Need #4: Huston Street might be a reach since the Padres don’t need prospects. I’d get him if possible or anyone who is a more effective closer. Frank F can be an 8th inning guy (lefties hit him too hard) & Bobby the 7th. Ramon is the mop-up guy until he proves his worth. Clear roster space by trading Cedeno to the Mariners for Olivo and send Nickeas to AAA. He may call a good game but he cannot hit MLB.

  6. AC Wayne July 15, 2012 at 1:21 am
    this loss couldn’t have happened at a worst time, the Mets were ready to even up the series with the Bravos, w/o David and Dickey performing well, if the BP’s able to hold on in this one, Sunday’s game then has some meaning, now a win can only salvage or save face for the Mets – this game reminded me of 2001 at Turner Field when the Mets were up 5-1 in the 9th only to see Benitez and Franco blow it by allowing 7 runs to score in the BOT 9th – Brian Jordan topped it off w/a GS off Franco, Franco had a 0-2 count and the Mets were up, 5-4

    As for FOX, I agree, it still baffles me that Karros is a color commentator for MLB games, he may just be the reason why there seems to be a disconnect amongst local fans with viewing national baseball games, I think it would be more enjoyable if you were able to listen to the guys that are broadcasting the games day-in-and-day-out instead of the generic talent that FOX throws out there

    does anybody know how long FOX will be doing the All-Star Game, I think that needs to be given to some other network to see what they could do with it, watching it this year, felt somewhat dated with Buck and McCarver at the helm

    • HobieLandrith July 15, 2012 at 11:22 am
      Eric Karros couldn’t add color to a game watched on a black and white TV.
  7. argonbunnies July 15, 2012 at 3:27 am
    Parnell handed the Braves the game by throwing 19 consecutive fastballs away.

    If Parnell didn’t have his curve today, the staff needed to know that, and either not bring him in in that situation, or not leave him in when it was clear 1 pitch wasn’t enough. And if he had to be in there, he needed to change locations. Thole didn’t set up inside for a single pitch. If Bobby didn’t want to pitch inside, Thole or someone else needed to make him. Warthen even made a mound visit, and nothing changed.

    If Parnell did have his curve today, all of the above becomes even more inexcusable.

    Failed execution doesn’t bother me. Utter failure to even attempt to play winning baseball drives me insane.

    You cannot retire major league hitters by throwing nothing but fastballs away. You cannot. Everyone knows this. If the Mets are incapable of remembering this when it counts, then we are in for a lot more losses exactly like this one. That’s why I feel the need to rant about it.

    P.S. What was up with Ike letting Prado’s line drive go by him? It was hit literally inches away from his glove, and his only reaction was to turn his head and watch it go past. In coming off the bag after holding the runner, it appears he wasn’t ready to field.

    • Joe Janish July 15, 2012 at 11:25 am
      Leo Mazzone might argue with your theory re: outside pitches. Though, I think he had his pitchers go for outside and low, rather than middle-out, waist high.

      I think Ike let that go because it was a rocket and he barely had time to see it. Prado loaded up on that pitch and blasted it.

      • argonbunnies July 15, 2012 at 2:20 pm
        C’mon, man, I thought you’d be with me on this. Doesn’t atrocious pitch selection drive you nuts too?

        Yeah, Mazzone emphasized the fastball low and away, but not on every friggin’ pitch. Plus, when the umpires were calling the pitch 5 inches off the plate a strike, that approach was more viable.

        I can forgive Parnell for missing up. What I can’t forgive is that no one — Parnell, Thole, Warthen, Terry/Geren, even an infielder with his head in the game fer godsakes — put a stop to an approach that wasn’t giving the team their best chance to win.

        I mean, come on, nothing but fastballs away to 4 straight batters is like getting thrown out stealing 3rd with 2 outs in 4 straight innings. After the first one, you address it. After the second one, you make a fuss and make damn sure it doesn’t happen again. The lack of correction makes me wonder if the Mets know what winning baseball looks like or give a damn about playing it.

  8. Izzy July 15, 2012 at 8:58 am
    I like your Freeman comments. Need more like it. I find it amusing that virtually nobody complains when a kid loafs down the line assuming he will be out, but there are scores of pathetic commentators complaining about Brice Harper who plays every play like its deciding the World Series.
    • Joe Janish July 15, 2012 at 11:28 am
      I can’t stand seeing the loafing from anyone, but it truly irks me when it’s a youngster. With the amount of money these players make, and the amount of time they hang around doing nothing sitting on the dugout bench, there is no excuse for ever giving less than 100%.
  9. gary s. July 15, 2012 at 10:47 am
    18 blown leads by the BP this year!!Parnell has proven in the last 3 years that HE CANNOT BE TRUSTED IN 8TH OR 9TH INNING!!Good idea to use him for a 5 out save.I blame Alderson for not getting another arm during all star break.He will wait till end of month wen we have no shot anymore and than say since we are out of race he does not want tp part with any of our precioys prospects
  10. Wohjr July 15, 2012 at 4:19 pm
    Just to harp on this a little harder, trade David! Last night was shades of 2011, the meek ks, the faraway stare as he slowly undoes the batting gloves… Makes a fan mighty nervous. Value is never going to be higher. Look in the nyt today at article on what the a’s have done…Who are the Indians running out there at 3b? They’ve shown themselves willing to deal in the last few years. The mets will never ever win the ws with David as our best hitter!

    Tejada, on the other hand, has been awesome! Keep that guy. He is definitely a championship ss

  11. Wohjr July 15, 2012 at 4:24 pm
    Ps joe: are you actually suggesting CB would call someone out just out of pique? What is the recourse for this? He seemed to be squeezing Johan today as well
    • Joe July 15, 2012 at 5:54 pm
      It’s Thole fault there, apparently.
  12. James July 16, 2012 at 12:40 pm
    The 7th and 8th and 9th inning problem has been going on for years. Here are the stats for this year and 2011. But it has been going on for several years. This season is done for, done for, done for, because the relief problems are too deep to fix overnight. However, need to get Mejia ready for next year, and get another star 7th or 8th inning guy, or else it will be more of the same.

    2012 Rankings
    Mets rank in 7th inning runs allowed: 30th (Last)
    Mets rank in 8th inning runs allowed: 25th
    Mets rank in 9th inning runs allowed: 25th

    Mets rank in 7th, 8th and 9th inning runs allowed: 30th (Last)

    2011 Ranking
    Mets rank in 7th, 8th and 9th inning runs allowed: 26th

  13. James July 16, 2012 at 12:43 pm
    Here is my source for these rankings. The links for previous years are dead, so would appreciate if anyone can find late inning relief data by inning for 2007-2010.