Mets Game 88: Loss to Braves
Braves 8 Mets 7
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.