Mets Game 90: Loss to Nationals
Nationals 5 Mets 4
Late-inning dramatics are entertaining, for sure. But if they don’t result in a win, well … what value do they have, other than entertainment?
Mets Game Notes
This was a very quick, fairly unremarkable game for eight innings. The feeling was: “ugh, the Mets are not doing anything tonight, and in a few moments it will all be over.” Then Jordany Valdespin blasted a three-run homer, and the game became must-see TV.
For the next hour or so, we were treated to genuinely awesome, edge-of-your-seat entertainment. The ending, though, was not favorable to the Mets fan. That’s baseball.
If there’s a bright side, it’s that Jonathon Niese walked away with a no-decision instead of a loss. He performed well on paper, allowing only one run on three hits in seven innings, striking out eight and walking none. As well as the results turned out, I didn’t love the process; but, I’m a nitpicker, and as a huge fan of Niese I always wish he’d be a little better — kind of like an overbearing parent. Yes, Niese got swings and misses. Yes, 77% of his pitches were strikes. The results were there, no question. What I didn’t necessarily love was his arm angle and release point, which seems to be sinking lower and lower with each start. Niese attained several high strikes — both looking and swinging — on pitches where his hand was under the baseball and his arm was just about sidearm at release. I think the location surprised the Nationals hitters, but over the long haul, if he continues to do this, hitters will look up in the zone and wallop those pitches. More importantly, there is concern that such an angle puts significant pressure on the elbow; it’s next to impossible to follow through with the hand pronated from a sidearm delivery, so the elbow ligaments are not completely “released” during follow-through, so they remain tense and tight after release. We watched a similar pattern of gradually lowering arm angle from another lefty pitcher for the Mets who enjoyed good results — Oliver Perez. I’m not saying Niese is going to be as bad as Ollie, but there is enough of a mechanical comparison to make me worry that Jon is damaging his arm to the point where it will eventually affect his velocity, location, and performance.
If you didn’t watch this game, I sincerely apologize, for it was such an emotionally draining rollercoaster ride that I don’t have the energy to recount the blow by blow. Here is the gist: the Mets squandered multiple opportunities to crack Nationals starter Ross Detwiler; it seemed that every time I blinked, they rapped another hit off of him. But every potential rally was crushed by a double play and/or a weak popup, and/or a well-hit ball that went right at someone. Then, Valdespin hit a game-changing homer that should have sent the momentum to the Mets, but Bobby Parnell shat the bed. Parnell threw something like 8 consecutive curveballs — partially because that strategy was working, but also because both he and Josh Thole lost confidence in his fastball. And that’s a major problem when your fastball touches triple digits.
As admirable as was the Mets’ tenacity, the Nats showed just a bit more — enough to win the ballgame.
Bryce Harper is the real deal. I sincerely hope he remains healthy and doesn’t have a Todd Marinovich-like crack-up, because he is a joy to watch. His swing is perfect, he hustles like crazy, his aggressiveness is inspiring, and he shows no fear. Oh, to be 19 again!
Don’t look now, but Daniel Murphy is taking full swings again. Nice to see, as his “stick the bat out and just make contact” approach isn’t going to produce enough offense to make up for his underwhelming defense. Unless he hits about .380, which ain’t happening.
Josh Edgin is establishing himself as a LOOGY — which means, he can’t be trusted against righties.
Remember when Tim Byrdak was unhittable?
I didn’t like the intentional walks issued to Ryan Zimmerman and Ian Desmond to load the bases after Harper’s triple in the tenth. First, I never like intentional walks. Second, I don’t like putting the pitcher into a situation where he has zero room for error. Although it did result in a force-out at home, and the strategy had no impact on the game-ending wild pitch, I still hate when a pitcher has no leeway — it really limits what he can do against a hitter.
Jason Bay does not look well. He has very little confidence; he looks meek at the plate. He needs to go, and I mean that in the nicest, most respectful way — he’s failed for too long here, and needs a clean slate to succeed again. Failing time and time again in New York only piles on the weight of his struggle.
I’m torn on Valdespin. On the one hand, he has a flair for the dramatic, and has provided excitement and color that is otherwise nonexistent on this fairly boring Mets club. At the same time, I didn’t love his hot-dogging lack of hustle on a ball that wasn’t definitely a home run. When Reggie Jackson hot-dogged a dinger, it was a 450-foot moon shot. You can’t Cadillac around the bases on a 371-foot fly that doesn’t even clear the wall.
If nothing else, Murphy and Valdespin may have great careers as pinch-hitters.
Interesting to see Pedro Beato in that fateful spot instead of Jon Rauch. My guess is that Rauch was being saved as the next “closer”; i.e., he would be the man to preserve the lead if the Nats where held scoreless and the Mets went ahead again. But that’s just a guess. I’m curious to know what thoughts went into that decision by Terry Collins. Does he believe that Beato is more of a swing-and-miss guy? In complete honesty, I’m not second-guessing this decision — I’m genuinely interested in the thought process.
Who is this Tyler Moore character?
Next Mets Game
The Mets and Nationals play again on Wednesday evening at 7:00 p.m. Chris Young climbs the hill to face Jordan Zimmerman.