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.

John Buck also homered, and added an RBI single to drive in the Mets’ final run. I don’t know why, but for some reason Buck’s early power is reminding me of the 2010 vintage of Rod Barajas.

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.

Joe Janish began MetsToday in 2005 to provide the unique perspective of a high-level player and coach -- he earned NCAA D-1 All-American honors as a catcher and coached several players who went on to play pro ball. As a result his posts often include mechanical evaluations, scout-like analysis, and opinions that go beyond the numbers. Follow Joe's baseball tips on Twitter at @onbaseball and at the On Baseball Google Plus page.
  1. Wohjr April 3, 2013 at 11:39 pm
    Duda looks good to me. It’s all confidence like you say joe: just look at the expression on the guys face! Looks not terrified In the field and downright giddy at the plate. Of course that porch shot would put a smile on any mans face. I do wonder if being away from the stupid mo zone will help his fielding confidence which in turn helps the hitting.

    I like cowgill, man that guy runs hard on a pop up! I do think the play when he got tagged out at second was his fault: he was so fired up from the collision at first that he ran right at the 2b and into the tag. Slide to the outside on that one and he’s safe!

    Mets 2-0! Every win puts 100 losses further in doubt——->>> lgm!

    • Joe Janish April 3, 2013 at 11:42 pm
      “Every win puts 100 losses further in doubt”

      And people think I’M pessimistic? :-)

  2. Dudabides April 4, 2013 at 1:29 am
    I think it was mentioned by Keith or Ron that cowgill had his back to the play and was trying to break up the double play. He’s always fired up
  3. DaveSchneck April 4, 2013 at 8:29 am
    Joe, Harvey was filthy but the Pads looked like a team that wanted no part of a game in that weather. Anyhow, a win is a win, be it April or Sept. – and we’ll take as many as they can pile up early. Good point on the defensive indifference – what is so hard about defending against a steal at least a little bit?
    • Joe Janish April 4, 2013 at 9:11 am
      Agreed on the frostbitten Padres. But I have a feeling it’s going to be a long, arduous season, so I figure now is the time for me to be upbeat and positive.
  4. Walnutz15 April 4, 2013 at 8:46 am
    - Great start by Harvey, no matter what one may think about the (undoubtedly weak) Padre lineup.

    Racking up as many K’s as he did, while not hitting the 100 pitch marker over 7 IP? I’ll take those results.

    However, as has been touched upon – it was a frigid April night in Flushing…..so we’ll see how that translates over time. Doesn’t take away that it was a nice kick-off for him.

    - Couple of solid AB’s from Duda in the early goings of the game. The HR was absolutely ripped, as was his double.

    We should probably pile on him as much as possible, though – based off his first 7 ST AB’s. As we know, no one has ever had bad AB’s to start a spring.

    - Ike’s blast was also good to see. He absolutely crushed that hanger to the bridge. Let’s hope it’s the start of a hot streak.

    As was the case with Duda’s first ST AB’s, I was already getting annoyed in reading the “Ike Watch” across various Met online outlets…..0-for-7 ALREADY!!

    OH NO!!!! TRADE HIM!!!

    Weak schedule in the early goings, so maybe they can put together a nice 1st month.

    • Joe Janish April 4, 2013 at 8:58 am
      ‘nutz, did it look to you like Duda and Davis were a little TOO comfortable in the box with those HRs? Like, maybe they knew what was coming? I wonder if Richard was tipping his pitches, or if it was just a case of knowing that he wasn’t going throw anywhere near the inside of the plate. Those two blasts looked like free and easy BP swings.
      • Walnutz15 April 4, 2013 at 9:35 am
        Idunno, Joe – when you hang a slider like the one Ike got….you’re just beggin’ for a ball to be deposited to the chop shops.

        He got a helicopter, and really sent it flyin’.

        Duda looked very comfortable on both of those hits, but I’m not about to look any further into it than that. It’s what I’d hope for him to be….and if someone’s picking up any pitches for him, then so be it. LOL

        As Terry Collins once said to Joe Girardi….”Any advanteeiiij you can git, ah?”

  5. Dan B April 4, 2013 at 8:56 am
    I will play devil’s advocate. When a team is up 6 runs in the ninth, the first baseman should be more concerned about fielding position then pickoff plays. Also, I want my pitcher pitching like it was 2 to 1, but 2 to 1 with nobody on base. I wouldn’t care if he took a full windup. Keeping that batter off base should be his full concern, not the meaningless runner on base. Same thing for the fielders. Get the out, even if the lead runner scores. It is all about not letting the batter on base.
    • Joe Janish April 4, 2013 at 9:09 am
      Yeah, that’s the mindset and theory behind defensive indifference — good capsule.

      Let me play angel’s advocate: maybe if you defend against the stolen base as you would in every other situation, you pick off the runner or throw him out.

      This is my feeling: a) consistency in approach leads to consistency in execution; b) retiring the runner could be as easy — if not easier — than retiring the batter.

      But, it’s just not in my nature to give ANYTHING away — I even hate intentional walks.

  6. Dan B April 4, 2013 at 10:30 am
    joe, first of all, I am not buying that you and angels take the same approach. Secondly, maybe the manager needs to know what works best for each pitcher. Someone with Harvey’s move to first might want to keep that runner close. But some pitchers might be better suited to forget the runner and go to the windup. To quote Al Davies, just win, baby.
    • Joe Janish April 4, 2013 at 1:01 pm
      The ends justify the means?

      Again, I know all the arguments for defensive indifference. I’m stating my personal argument against the concept. Especially for a team like the Mets, who cannot take for granted ANYTHING this year. If they can smell a win, they have to get it. Eight runs, for this Mets team, with that bullpen, is not safe.

  7. Joe April 4, 2013 at 10:51 am
    If we are going to play like it’s 2-1, should teams be stealing bases while up 10-1 in the 9th too? At some point, the score matters, elite pitchers in the past also worrying about winning the game, not making sure every unnecessary base and/or run can be avoided. You can get lazy, so obviously you can’t go overboard, but also you cannot always be on edge all the time to the same degree.

    In effect, Harvey has to fill in for Santana or Dickey in the first few months, the guy people proverbially pay to watch or whatever. Later, Wheeler might join him there.

    • Joe Janish April 4, 2013 at 12:58 pm
      Yes, if a team’s “game” is to steal bases, then absolutely they should continue stealing bases when up 10-1. I can’t remember who supported this argument, but it might’ve been Lou Brock. The story goes that an opposing team was ticked off because Brock (or whoever it was) stole second when his team was up by a large margin. Brock’s answer was, “oh yeah? If you’re up by ten tomorrow, are you going to stop hitting homeruns?”

      I’m not advocating “running up the score”; in that case, the Cardinals at that time were a team that scored runs by way of the running game, and, when you look at it from that perspective, it makes a heckuva lot of sense — because batters DON’T stop trying to hit the ball over the fence when their team is up by 10 or 15 runs.

      Further, refusing to prevent a stolen base is not the same as stealing a base when up by ten. Defensive indifference is a contradiction to normal play. MAYBE if a team is up by FIFTEEN, and there are two outs, and there are two strikes on the batter, then MAYBE you let the runner take second. But otherwise, again, as a competitive person I don’t understand just giving a cookie to the opponent.

      As for ” you cannot always be on edge all the time to the same degree.” – that’s up for debate, as any manager would love to have 9 guys going from out 1 through 27 like Pete Rose. But more to MY point: players should not change their normal approach because their team is up by 8. Keep doing the same thing you normally do.

  8. Mike Kelm April 4, 2013 at 11:19 am
    The fear I have is that we will see the team do what it’s done the last couple of years with Terry Collins. Collins gets them fired up and they look respectable for a few months. But as the season wears on and players wear down, the lack of talent get exposed.

    There’s a lot of upside to players like Duda and Tejada and and Cowgill and Valdespin. If they can continue to develop and solidify their performance, they could be reliable players. But is Lucas Duda the guy pounding balls to and over the walls, or is he the guy trying to hit the ball into Flushing Bay and missing? Is Cowgill a grind-it-out player who gets the most of his talent or is he a AAAA player?

    But beyond those guys, there are a bunch that probably shouldn’t be in the bigs. Jeremy Hefner and Aaron Laffey are not quality 4 and 5 starters. The Bullpen is a giant question mark and what can we expect from Marlon Byrd. Is Byrd really a .275 hitter with 10-15 homeruns, or was that just the PED’s talking?

    • Joe Janish April 4, 2013 at 1:03 pm
      Great points, Mike. Indeed, we’ll see how it plays out. Mets fans may want to fully embrace and enjoy this auspicious beginning, because it their team very well could be peaking in April.
    • DaveSchneck April 4, 2013 at 1:47 pm
      Mike,
      Yes, the team has swooned post all-star break the last 4 years. This is where a GM comes. And, in many cases, the GM actually does something to improve the team. The past is the past, but until I see this GM actually go outside the organization and obtain reinforcements, I am gooing to be very skeptical. It can’t reasonable be pinned only on the manager, or players for that matter.
  9. murph April 4, 2013 at 11:23 am
    funny that despite starting 2-0, the Mets gained NO ground on Atlanta or Washington. push.
  10. Steven A April 4, 2013 at 1:02 pm
    All. Lets not go crazy after two games, albeit wins. On May 1, we can have a real recap on where this team stands. I wont even be too excited if we win the next four against the Padres and marlins, but we better not lose two of them
    • Joe Janish April 4, 2013 at 1:05 pm
      In the minds of many Mets fans, one game = 162 games. This is why I define myself as a “Mets spectator” — I’m not of the ilk to jump on the daily rollercoaster. We’ll talk about the good points and bad points of each game. So far, mostly good things. I’m pretty sure we’re going to have PLENTY of time to talk about the bad things between now and the end of September.
  11. Dan B April 4, 2013 at 2:32 pm
    Dave, if the GM doesn’t think his team has a chance, I don’t blame him for not getting reinforcements. But then they should sell off players they know won’t be back for prospects. The Mets lack of movement of any kind drives me most crazy every Aug. 1St.
  12. Dan B April 4, 2013 at 2:38 pm
    Joe, you can be a Met fan and still not jump on the daily rollarcoaster. I hate this ownership and I don’t expect much until they sell. But I still follow the Mets and root for them. I survived Mrs. DeLouret, I will survive Jeff Wilpon.
    • Joe Janish April 4, 2013 at 4:00 pm
      I’m sure it’s possible, but “fandom” or “fanaticism” left me a long time ago. I have more enjoyment watching baseball games in general than rooting for one specific team all year long. Is that something that will change? Maybe, maybe not, but either way, I’m quite content watching Mets games without rooting one way or the other.