Mets Game 148: Loss to Phillies
Phillies 3 Mets 2
Matt Harvey‘s season ended on a high note. Unfortunately, the game itself finished on a low note.
Mets Game Notes
Aside from one pitch to Jimmy Rollins in the first at-bat of the game, Matt Harvey was spectacular. He dominated the Phillies with his fastball and mixed in just enough change-ups to keep them off-balance. He commanded the game, and had the kind of posture / body language / confidence seen only by the very elite in the game — i.e., Roy Halladay, Pedro Martinez, Jack Morris, Tom Seaver. I’m not convinced his stuff is there — yet — but his competitive demeanor is there, and that’s something you either have, or you don’t.
Harvey allowed one hit and three walks, striking out seven in seven innings and 112 pitches. That’s nothing to sneeze at.
Unfortunately, Josh Edgin couldn’t make it stick in his first opportunity to close a MLB game. He struck out two to start the ninth and got ahead 1-2 against Chase Utley; he was one strike away from his first big-league save. However, Utley worked a walk (after a few close pitches and foul balls), and Ryan Howard followed by mashing the baseball off the facing of the upper deck in right field to put the Phillies ahead 3-2.
I cannot argue with Terry Collins‘ decision to give Edgin the ball to start the ninth. First, I preferred to see Edgin face lefthanded hitters Utley and Howard. Second, the Mets are at a point in the season where it doesn’t matter if the 30-something Jon Rauch can lock down a save — what do we learn from that? Edgin needs to be tested, and put into these pressure-cooker situations, to see how he does — and also, to see how he rebounds after blowing the ballgame. Does he have the intestinal fortitude to come back, snorting like a bull, challenging hitters again in his next appearance? That’s what we need to learn in otherwise meaningless games in September 2012.
Ironically, Edgin pitched well against the two righthanded hitters he faced to start the frame, and was burned by the two lefties. Why? In my opinion, it’s because, when facing lefties, he uses the batter as target for starting the break of his slider. I’ve never been a fan of aiming a ball at the breaking point; I always teach to aim your pitch to the spot where you want it to finish. It may seem like semantics, but I feel that when pitchers pitch to a point where the want the pitch to break, they tend not to “finish” the pitch, and are more prone to hanging breaking pitches. By aiming his slider at Ryan Howard’s hip, the pitch wound up in the middle of the plate — a place one never wants the ball to be against a slugger like Howard.
There is the argument that Collins should have put in Rauch to close so that Harvey could get the win, and gain confidence from earning it. I disagree with that thinking. Harvey held the Phillies to one stinking hit in seven innings; he doesn’t need a “W” next to his name in the boxscore to know he pitched well.
Technically, this game was lost in the top of the ninth. But in my mind, the Mets gave away the game in the bottom of the eighth. They started the inning with men on the corners and no outs. In that situation, the batter has to put the ball in play and get the run home from third, but instead, Kelly Shoppach struck out. OK, no big deal, especially after Justin Turner (who else?) worked a walk to load the bases. Now, the team MUST get at least one run home. But rather than that, Andres Torres hits into an inning-ending double play. An inning that starts that way, with no-name rookie relievers facing you, simply can’t end that way. This failure was a microcosm of the Mets’ 2012 season.
FWIW … The Mets struck out 15 times in this game, were 2-for-10 with RISP, and left 10 men on base. The Phillies had three hits in the ballgame, were 0-for-1 with RISP, and left two men on base.
Kind of weird to see so many home runs by the Phillies that just barely made it over the right field wall. It was like deja vu all over again, or Groundhog Day.
For the first time, Chase Utley is looking old to me. That’s hard for me, the baseball fan, as I enjoy watching him play and it’s clear he’s on the downside of his career.
It’s a game like this that I use in arguments against Beaneheads who theorize that saves are overrated and strikeouts by hitters aren’t that big a deal. Maybe not in the grand scheme of tabulating season-ending numbers, but from game to game? I’m not so sure. I still believe the most important “stat” is a win, and there are certain things that have to happen in order for a win to be earned.
With this loss, the Mets are guaranteed to finish the season with a losing record. There are 15 games left and their record is 66-82. I would argue that there is a very real possibility of the Mets finishing with less than 70 wins. They would need to go on an incredible run to match their 2011 record of 77-85.