Mets Game 158: Loss to Braves
Braves 2 Mets 0
And now, back to reality.
Mets Game Notes
What a difference a day makes. Just 24 hours earlier, the Mets looked like inspired world beaters, with a nucleus that — with maybe one or two “final pieces” added — seemed destined for the 2013 postseason. Then, the Braves played up to their skill set, the Mets down to theirs, and the result was quite different.
The Mets wasted a strong start by Chris Young, who went six innings and allowed two runs on seven hits and a walk, striking out six, in his twentieth start of the season. A fine effort, but the only way he was going to win was if he could figure out a way to hold the Braves to negative runs.
Terry Collins commented on Young’s start and in particular, the fact that he was able to make twenty starts — something Young hadn’t done since 2007. Collins was pleased that Young reached his goal of making twenty starts, and was happy for him. That’s nice. Here’s the rub, though: Young’s contract is up at the end of the year. By making twenty starts without a hitch, and posting a 4.15 ERA, does that make him a sought-after commodity on the free-agent market this winter for a team looking for a fifth starter? Further, is he worth offering more than a one-year deal befitting of a fifth starter? What I’m seeing with Young is a rerun of the Chris Capuano story: Mets roll the dice on a one-year deal for a pitcher coming off surgery, pitcher proves healthy and adequate, pitcher then moves on to another club. So in other words, the Mets are a halfway house for recovering hurlers. I guess that’s OK, if you’re focused on short-term fixes. But I think some Mets fans are excited about Young’s performance this year, and are penciling him into next year’s Mets rotation. What happens if another team offers Young a two-year deal — like the Dodgers did with Capuano last winter? It doesn’t make sense for the Mets to match it, considering their financial constraints, payroll flexibility goals, and Young’s injury history. So instead of reaping the rewards of rehabilitating another injured arm, the Mets will go back to the junk pile and try to find another “low-risk” opportunity rolling off the surgeon’s table. I’m not necessarily saying it’s bad to roll the dice and wind up with a usable pitcher. But it is somewhat disheartening to essentially pay for a pitcher’s season-long audition for other clubs.
But then again, Young and Sandy Alderson have a mutual respect for their Ivy League educations and a long, loving relationship going back to their San Diego days, so maybe Young will remain loyal to the Mets and sign a reasonable, affordable contract as part of his gratitude for being given a chance to reclaim his career. We’ll find out soon enough.
The Mets offense was rendered impotent by Mike Minor and four Braves relievers. For a moment I thought Jerry Manuel — or maybe Gene Rayburn — was in the home team dugout, the way the match game was being played. In the end, it worked, even without snarky answers submitted by Charles Nelson Reilly, Brett Somers, or Fannie Flagg. (Screw you if you’re too young to know what I’m talking about.) Five hits were accomplished by the Mets, and their biggest rally, ironically, came in the top of the ninth against all-world closer Craig Kimbrel — though, not because the Mets did anything special. Rather, Kimbrel had a rare off night, and came as close to imploding as he ever has in 2012. His control was unsharp to say the least, maiming David Wright and the home plate on one pitch and nearly killing the bull with another. OK, this wasn’t played in Durham so there wasn’t any bull to kill. But, it was definitely the first time I ever saw two people severely pained by one pitch — and it wasn’t even a fastball, it was a slider. Scary stuff, Kimbrel has.
Martin Prado supplied most of Atlanta’s limited production, hitting two doubles, scoring once, driving in one. Not surprising, since Prado is what pundits like to call “a professional hitter.”
Both Elvin Ramirez and Ramon Ramirez appeared in this game in relief for the Mets. I’m not 100% sure which was which, though I think Elvin was the one who reminded me more of Manny Acosta. Neither allowed a run, so in that sense they were both successful.
In the bottom of the seventh, Jose Constanza (no relation to George) was thrown out stealing by Mike Nickeas. Nickeas got rid of the ball quickly and put it right in front of the bag, with the help of a well-placed short hop. Keith Hernandez made a point to “all the young catchers out there” to notice that Nickeas brought his glove with the ball back to his throwing hand during the “exchange,” and that “this is the way you want to do it, because it’s faster than going to your glove with your throwing hand.” No. Wrong. Boo. Keith, stick to first base commentary, please. Yes, you might get the ball to your throwing hand more quickly, but it doesn’t necessarily lead to a faster release nor is it the best execution; in fact, it’s a bad execution. Why? That’s the same question my wife asked, so I got up from the sofa to demonstrate. I had no idea she was testing out her new iPhone 5; she had no idea what I was talking about. If you want to watch my explanation, it’s here. Maybe some day I’ll create a more professional-like demonstration, with a more clear description of the principles behind it, but in the meantime, hopefully this rough cut produced in my living room will suffice.