Mets Game 91: Loss to Nationals
Nationals 4 Mets 3
So much for team meetings.
Mets Game Notes
Chris Young pitched fairly well; well enough to lose, unfortunately. He allowed two earned runs in six innings, which is about as good a start as you can expect. As usual, he knocked down the pins the first two times through the order, but the dam broke during the third time around. I wonder if too much is being made of this, because my guess is that the majority of MLB pitchers experience a similar fate. Young kept the “fast” ball up in the zone, just high enough to create missed swings and popups. The Nationals didn’t have trouble making contact — he allowed six hits — but he induced two DP balls to erase baserunners.
Tyler Clippard is suddenly prone to the homerun ball, and to the punch-and-judy Mets hitters, no less. He allowed three Mets homers in the span of seven batters faced between this game and the first of the series. Not terribly surprising, considering he keeps his fastball right around chest high, over the middle of the plate, with very little movement. If not for a Mario Soto -like changeup, he’d get lit up like a pinball machine (see: Bobby Parnell).
Putting aside any allegiance to the Mets, and looking at this game purely as a baseball fan, I find myself mesmerized by Bryce Harper. He reminds me — a lot — of George Brett, who is my favorite hitter of all-time (and you thought it was Joel Youngblood). As great, future HOF hitters have advanced into their final years, I would make sure to drop everything and watch their at-bats — guys like Brett, Don Mattingly, Wade Boggs, Tony Gwynn, and Rod Carew (yes, I think Donnie Baseball is a HOFer). I also dropped everything to watch intelligent but not-quite HOFers like Rusty Staub, because I felt there was something to be learned. This is the second time in my life — Darryl Strawberry was the first — that I’ve dropped everything to watch a rookie hit. With Strawberry, it was in anticipation of seeing something absolutely astonishing and/or dramatic. With Harper, it’s more like Staub, Mattingly, or Brett — I want to see how he approaches, analyzes, develops, and commands an at-bat. Because that’s what Bryce Harper does — he intensely analyzes every single pitch and shoves it into his memory bank for immediate use. You can almost see the wheels turning inside his head as the pitch is coming in. Combined with that data collected is an absolutely perfectly balanced, powerful swing, a controlled aggressiveness, and confidence. Maybe he just happens to be in “the zone” right now; if he’s not, I think we’re seeing the real-life version of Roy Hobbs.
As you know, I put a lot of stock into body language and facial expression. That said, contrast the presence of Harper vs. that of Jason Bay. I know Bay hit a bomb (finally!) in the ninth, but Bay’s body language was and has been awful. His eyes are darting around after every pitch he sees, suggesting that he’s searching his mind for an answer to a question in his head. When I see that, I know a batter is confused about what’s happening, and/or is not sure he’s capable of executing. Throughout Bay’s tenure with the Mets, he’s had that dazed look, and been tentative. The homer he hit seemed like an accident; though homeruns often are accidents, you don’t want to look like it was an accident — you know what I mean? When Bay was in Pittsburgh and Boston, I remember him having more confidence, more swagger, and more focus. Maybe I’m misremembering in which case I’m full of crap — but the results of a player often correlate to the overall level of confidence he exhibits.
Jordany Valdespin did NOT hit a dramatic homerun in the ninth inning — WTF?
During a postgame interview with SNY, Miguel Batista stated that “the Mets are better than the Nationals, and we’ll see in October.” Norman Vincent Peale would be proud.
Next Mets Game
Mets look to avoid the sweep on Thursday afternoon. Game time is 12:35 p.m. and pits Cy Young candidates R.A. Dickey and Gio Gonzalez. Due to my “real job,” I will not be posting a game recap until later in the evening, though I may set up an open thread for you to post your in-game and immediate post-game comments.