Mets Game 109: Loss to Padres
Padres 7 Mets 3
On the bright side, the Mets didn’t squander many opportunities.
Mets Game Notes
Of course, they didn’t squander many opportunities because there weren’t many opportunities. The Mets left only two men on base in the ballgame, and were 0-for-2 with RISP. Unless you’re the Yankees playing in the Bronx, it’s hard to score runs if you don’t reach base. The Mets had five hits and one walk; three of those hits were for extra bases.
The Padres were a team that Matt Harvey was supposed to cruise through. Instead, he was battered, giving us a glimpse as to why Wally Backman suggested that the young righthander wasn’t quite ready for MLB. There’s no question that Harvey has big-league stuff and will be a solid MLB starter some day; in fact, from the little I’ve seen of Harvey, I expect him to be at minimum a #3 if not #2 or #1 some day. But the report from AAA was that he occasionally had bouts of inconsistency, and lost his sharp command.
These are not serious issues for a non-contending team, so I’m fine with Harvey being in the bigs — so long as he continues to work on all of his pitches and learns. If the Mets were a handful of games out of first place, or serious Wild Card contenders, I might not like the idea of Harvey in the rotation.
Harvey lost mainly because he threw a few too many straight, belly-button-high fastballs over the middle of the plate, and two hitters whacked two misplaced change-ups. He actually got away with a few high fastballs, but after a while, big-league hitters catch up — and they did.
Ron Darling opined that Harvey should only be throwing fastballs and sliders in the first few innings of the game, to “keep it simple.” I have to disagree, to a point. On the one hand, it wasn’t necessary for Harvey to show his entire arsenal in the initial inning. However, he did seem to hold back his curve for the first few frames. Moreover, I think it’s absolutely essential to establish both the change-up and the fastball as soon as possible, to make clear that batters can’t sit on velocity. Harvey was hit hard on two poorly located change-ups in the first; they were both down and in to lefthanded hitters. The location itself would have been OK (not great, but OK) if the hitters were righthanded; to lefties, though, that is generally their wheelhouse.
Darling reiterated his stance on “power pitching” later in the game, recommending that Harvey stick to throwing the fastball and the slider, “because he looked so impressive using those two pitches in his first outing.” This is EXACTLY the kind of thinking that stunted Mike Pelfrey‘s growth. Pelfrey was directed to throw only the hard stuff — fastball / slider — and that did allow him to overpower teams on occasion, and that worked for the short-term, but he never fully developed the off-speed stuff necessary for long-term success. Maybe if Harvey was destined to be a relief pitcher, I’d agree with Darling, but as someone expected to develop into a workhorse starter, I want to see him learning to make either the change-up or overhand curve his second-best pitch. Let him take his lumps now, when it really doesn’t matter, so that less lumps will be served in the future, when he’s hopefully surrounded by championship ballplayers.
I don’t see any problem with Harvey making mistakes and getting whacked around the park — it’s nearly impossible to learn anything without failing. I want Harvey to have confidence in his change-up, feel good that he can put it in a good spot, but understand that spot varies from batter to batter. He’s not in the Majors right now to be Tom Seaver — he’s here to be Tom Seaver some day in the hopefully not-too-distant future. Not to mention, adversity builds character.
On the opposite side of adversity is Ronny Cedeno, who is as hot as he’ll ever be. May as well bat him second until he cools off.
Bizarre play in the fifth, when Jason Marquis bunted back to the pitcher with runners on the corners. Cameron Maybin came rushing home and was out by ten feet. Why he ran is anyone’s guess, but more to the point, why Marquis was bunting there is absolutely ludicrous — considering that Marquis might have been the 6th or 7th best hitter in the lineup.
Also not sure why Marquis was bunting for a hit with a man on second base with one out in the bottom of the fifth. Beyond the fact that he should be swinging away there, is that Marquis is no spring chicken, and the opposite of “fit.” With those extra spare tires above his waist, I’d be worried about popping a hammy.
If I was the GM of the Padres, I think I’d build on their foundation of speed and defense, and build a team similar to the old Cardinals of the 1980s. Yonder Alonso and/or Chase Headley can play the part of Jack Clark, and the rest of the guys should be absolute burners. I can see such a club, especially in that ballpark, giving opponents a lot of trouble — particularly teams with woeful fundamentals.
Speaking of bad fundies, Manny Acosta threw a ball in the stands on an attempted pickoff at first base. Not sure I’ve ever seen that before. It would have been more impressive had he thrown the ball into the stands on a pickoff attempt at second base, but it’s still something to talk about.
San Diego catcher John Baker scored from first on a double in the 8th. His speed is about average, maybe below average, so how was he able to score? He burst into full speed at the crack of the bat (there were two outs), he cut the bases perfectly, and he looked to his 3B coach for guidance. Little things win ballgames.
Next Mets Game
The Mets get a day off as they make the long trip home to start a series with the sinking Marlins on Tuesday night. Game time is a most civilized and welcome 7:10 p.m., and the scheduled pitching matchup is Jonathon Niese vs. Wade LeBlanc.