Mets Game 2: Win Over Padres
Mets 8 Padres 4
Mets remain undefeated and remain at the top of the NL East standings.
Mets Game Notes
With 19 runs in their first two games, the Mets are on pace to score well over 1500 runs. Hey, ya neva know.
The last time the Mets scored 19 runs in their first two games of the year was 1979. So, this isn’t exactly an indication of how the rest of this season will go.
What a pleasure watching Matt Harvey, who managed to combine efficiency and strikeouts — he struck out 10 in 7 innings, expending 94 pitches, which is a very good number (as a rule of thumb, I like to think of an “average” or goal as 15 pitches per inning). Does that say more about Harvey, or the Padres, or the weather conditions? Probably a mix of all three elements. Certainly, the icy winds, combined with Harvey’s 95+ fastball, made hitting less pleasing than usual. Sure, the Mets had to hit in that same cold weather, but they didn’t have to face a pitcher with mid-90s velocity who was mixing in an effective change-up and knee-buckling bender. It was a perfect storm for Harvey to succeed, and he grabbed that bull by the horns.
Harvey did it all, in old-school fashion. He put three quality pitches over the plate, fielded his position well, picked off a runner, and even collected his first hit of the year. The all-around performance, focus, competitiveness, and intensity — particularly in the pajama-like baby-blue pinstripes — was redolent of a young Tom Seaver.
Perhaps more encouraging than Harvey’s impeccable performance — because, after all, everyone is EXPECTING Matt Harvey to be spectacular — was the homerun and double by Lucas Duda. Before we get to that, I was so pleased to see Duda in the lineup against a lefty, since it seems like the Mets have been dead-set on creating platoon players by not exposing youngsters to same-handed opponents. Is this a sign of what’s to come in ’13? Would be nice. Duda responded by clubbing lefty Clayton Richard with two bombs — one to the wall and one over. Granted, Clayton Richard is not Steve Carlton, and Duda’s second-inning homer looked like it was hit off of a batting-practice fastball. But still, the two drives could go a long way in instilling confidence — which may be the “X factor” in whether Duda develops into a beast or a “AAAA” player. Baseball is very much a mind game, and mastery of confidence is key to success at the big-league level — perhaps as important as skill set, since nearly everyone at that level shares similar raw talent.
Oh, and Ike Davis also got his first homer of 2013 out of the way. He also avoided striking out, after fanning four times in the opener. His strategy was to swing early and get his at-bat over with before it could get to two strikes — he saw only 7 pitches in 4 at-bats. The only other Met batter to see fewer pitches was Mike Baxter, who saw 4 in one at-bat late in the game.
The Padres took second base twice in the bottom of the ninth via “defensive indifference.” I’ve never been a fan of the term, the way the official scorer handles it, and, most importantly, the fact it occurs. I get that when there is a big lead, and the runner on first technically “means nothing,” and the pitcher should be focusing on the current hitter and the final out. But, I also don’t like giving away bases, because it’s one step closer to a run. Also, I don’t like changing an athlete’s game so significantly. There’s a difference between making an adjustment in-game based on what the opponent is doing, and completely changing your approach when the score gets out of hand. I once had a coach who always preached, “play the game like it’s 2-1″ — and it didn’t matter whether your team had the “2” or the “1,” because you were supposed to have the same mindset and approach. If your team has a large lead, and you’re the pitcher, and you let the baserunner on first do whatever he wants, then you’re no longer pitching the way you have been practicing — you’ve “changed your game,” and in addition to allowing big leads and jumps, you’re probably also slacking in other areas, such as concentration on hitting your target. This is only my opinion, but as long as there are less than 27 outs, every player on the field should be maintaining a certain level of intensity and focus — otherwise, play can turn sloppy, which can lead to losing. If you’re up by six or seven or ten, you damn well better win that game — make sure if you don’t, it’s because of something out of your control, rather than because you’ve decided to drop your guard. In other words, an athlete should be relentless until the competition is over.
The Padres looked very uncomfortable in the chilly Northeast weather; Everth Cabrera appeared to be wearing a moon suit underneath his uniform. Buncha Left Coast sissies! However, just when I was about to write them off for “going in the tank,” they woke up and put forth a legitimate effort in the final two innings. I think it had something to do with the relief of not seeing Harvey on the mound — trust me, it’s a huge lift when a dominant pitcher leaves a game — but you have to give San Diego credit for playing hard through the final three outs, despite being so far behind and the crappy weather. It would have been very easy for them to go through the motions and get the game over with once the ninth inning arrived.
Next Mets Game
The final game of the three-game series begins at 1:10 p.m. on Thursday afternoon. Dillon Gee takes the mound against lefthander Eric Stults. If you’ll be at work (like me), be sure to set the DVR. Please note, I won’t be publishing a postgame until later in the evening, but will get an “open thread” up in the meantime for you to begin the conversation.