Mets Game 3: Loss to Padres

Padres 2 Mets 1

Kind of early in the season for a lazy “getaway” day game after a night game.

Mets Game Notes

This is the kind of game that Dillon Gee can win, and should have won, but, unfortunately, did not. His stuff was average for him — he threw a decent amount of strikes, mixed up his fastball with an appropriate number of curveballs and change-ups, and was underwhelming but workmanlike — good enough to keep his team in the game. What was on Gee’s side was that the Padres’ offense is terrible. Unfortunately for Gee, the Mets offense was even worse. Looking at the final stat line, one could ascertain that Gee had a great outing — he allowed only three hits and one run, pitching into the seventh inning. But the looks of numbers can be deceiving. The truth is, he struggled more than the boxscore indicates, and the seemingly sparkling stats spoke more to the inadequacies of the Padres’ hitters than the performance of Dillon Gee.

By the way, I like Dillon Gee. I like the fact he has a great pickoff move, fields his position well, and gets the most from his abilities. I like that he carries himself like he belongs in the big leagues, and has no fear, yet at the same time understands his capabilities and works around them when necessary. I believe he’s a capable back-end starter who has a place in MLB. Just want to get that out there.

After two days of looking like an awoken giant, Lucas Duda went back into his slumber, baffled by the ordinary slop tossed by journeyman Eric Stults. But hey, Duda wasn’t the only one confused by Stults’ perplexers — everyone other than Justin Turner and John Buck was befuddled.

Turner and Buck collected all of the Mets’ five hits. At some point, someone, somewhere, is going to give Turner an opportunity to play in at least a platoon role, if not an everyday job. It probably won’t be a championship club, but it will be a big-league team.

As for Buck, he looks “locked in” or “in the zone.” Darling commented that Buck was “one of the best offensive catchers in baseball a few years ago.” Um … I wouldn’t go that far. Buck did have a really strong 2010, and it earned him a 3-year, $18M free-agent contract. His 20 HR, .280 AVG., and .803 OPS was very good for a catcher, but the list of “the best offensive catchers” in 2010 began with Buster Posey, Joe Mauer, Victor Martinez, Jorge Posada, Carlos Ruiz, Brian McCann, and even Geovany Soto — all of whom had a higher OPS than Buck that year. Buck was in the second tier, amongst the likes of Mike Napoli, Ramon Hernandez, and (shiver) Rod Barajas. I’m not pointing this out to make Darling look bad. Rather, it was something that I think is something of a curiosity — for whatever reason, it was an unusually strong offensive year for backstops. Or maybe it just felt that way because I’m so used to Mets catchers being so inept (offensively and defensively).

For some reason, Scott Rice‘s motion reminds me of Jim Abbott. It looks to me like Rice is pitching with only one hand.

Poor execution of rundown in the fourth inning between third and home. It was a comebacker to Gee, who immediately threw home. That’s not necessarily the worst thing to do, and in fact, if a pitcher is not sure what to do, the best decision — with a man on third — is to throw home, because at minimum you want to prevent the run from scoring. In that particular situation, I disagree with Ron Darling‘s opinion that Gee should have run toward Yonder Alonso rather than thrown the ball to John Buck. On the replay, it was clear that Alonso was still charging toward home when Gee had the ball in his glove, and was more than halfway down the line — he didn’t freeze until right after Gee released the ball. In a perfect world, Gee gets Alonso to freeze one beat faster, and then he can run toward him. But, in the heat of the moment, one has to think fast, and I’m fine with Gee’s decision. Where the Mets failed was in Buck’s early throw to David Wright. What Buck should have done was chase Alonso closer to third base before tossing the ball to Wright. Once a rundown begins — and in my opinion, it began when Buck caught Gee’s throw — the out should be executed with one throw; at most, two throws. But, if it gets to two throws, chances are the other runners have time to advance, which is exactly what happened.

For what was a one-run game for most of the contest, there was a startlingly lack of urgency and intensity by the Mets offense. I guess that has something to do with the day game after a night game thing, but, again — these guys are tired in game three of the season?

Very strange decision — to me — was Mike Baxter pinch-hitting for Collin Cowgill in the 7th, with two out, a man on first, Dale Thayer (!) on the mound, and Padres up 1-0. I get the whole lefty batter vs. righty hitter thing, but, Cowgill started game 1 against a righty starter and did pretty OK. Further, as the leadoff hitter, I would assume Cowgill is perceived as one of the best hitters on the club — if he’s not, why is he batting leadoff? Finally, in that situation, the Mets needed an extra-base hit, and all public communication from manager Terry Collins thus far has suggested that he perceives Cowgill as a potential power hitter. So how / why does Baxter hit there? Mind you, I like Baxter, and I understand the necessity of getting him an at-bat, but I don’t get the timing nor the player he replaced.

Next Mets Game

The Mets and Marlins open a three-game weekend series on Friday night at 7:10 p.m. Jeremy Hefner takes the mound against Alex Sanabia.

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. argonbunnies April 4, 2013 at 9:09 pm
    An underwhelming game all around, for both teams. The pitchers alternated between nibbling and throwing meatballs, and the hitters fouled off a lot of those meatballs. The home plate ump was inconsistent at the knees (Thayer clearly had Baxter struck out), and with the outside corner to righties (Stults got some calls an inch off the plate that Gee did not).

    Gee did not look good for most of his outing — poor velocity, poor command. Dear Padres offense, thank you for popping up a series of 2-0 belt-high 87mph sinkers. At least Dillon looked a little better late, when he mixed it up more.

    There were no official errors on defense, but Ike cost the Mets a baserunner by failing to cover first (instead breaking toward the ball when he had no chance to field it), and Gee and Buck gave the Padres two bases with a sloppy rundown. Buck then tried to backhand a bounced Familia slider (instead of blocking it), which skipped away for what turned out to be the game-losing run.

    David Wright’s swing is fully back to the monstrosity that generates only strikeouts, from 2011 and the end of 2012. Huge, slow, twisting uppercut. He swung through two fastballs right down the middle to stifle a 6th inning scoring chance. Marlon Byrd killed it for good, by waving through an eye-high 0-2 fastball, one at bat after getting beat on an 85mph fastball just above the belt.

    Pretty much the only player on either team who distinguished himself today was Luke Gregerson, who threw 13 sliders with 13 different speeds and breaks.

    Murphy’s still a sucker for down and in. Ever since righties realized they could get him to chase sliders down there, he hasn’t adjusted. Gregerson threw him two that (a) were never strikes and (b) were too nasty for anyone to hit. Swish, swish.

    Trying to think of something a Met did well today… Ruben Tejada did a great job laying off some nasty bait pitches (though he couldn’t do anything with any of the pitches he got in the strike zone). Turner’s contact skills are still excellent (though his 3 hits, all singles, weren’t exactly scorched).

    Bad games happen. Gee’s command should come around eventually. Ike will heat up at some point. The main thing that’s got me worried is Wright’s swing. When it gets like this, it can stay this way for months.

    • Joe Janish April 4, 2013 at 11:25 pm
      GREAT analysis, bunnies. I’m especially with you on D-Wright’s swing. It looks long and very armsy. Power comes from the hips, not the arms, which is why I never can understand the over-exaggerated load that many players like to use. It’s like they’re trying to hit the ball eight miles.
  2. The DZA April 5, 2013 at 8:42 am
    So what has happened with Wright? At the WBC he was ‘MACHINE’, then he has a few days off with a slight injury -meets up with the Mets coaching staff and…
    Early days I guess – just excited at the start of the year…(he hopes).
    • Joe Janish April 5, 2013 at 8:57 am
      Wright’s swing can work if he gets pitches to hit. For example, if he’s facing borderline MLB or non-MLB pitchers, and/or if he has beasts like Giancarlo Stanton and Joe Mauer in the lineup around him. The problem comes when he has no protection in the lineup, and pitchers do a good job of keeping him off balance and keeping the ball just barely out of the strike zone.
  3. DaveSchneck April 5, 2013 at 9:38 am
    So we weren’t going to win them all. And, it is only game #3. That said, but this is the type of game that is concerning. Not so much that it was a loss, althouh 3-0 would have been nice. This was home game against a low end lefty starter that produced 14Ks in 36 PA. If my math is correct, the 3 through 6 hitters whiffed 10 times and walked 2 times in 14 PA. They only put the ball in play 2 times out of 14 PA! Against this level of opposition, it is near impossible to do worse. Very disappointing. I’ll give Familiai a pass given he has been sitting around waiting to pitch for a week, but walking the first guy you face and throwing a WP to let him score is not a confidence builder. I’m not sure what the plan is for him, but I would rather see him closing regularly in Vegas if he doesn’t get regular work with the Mets.
  4. Dan B April 5, 2013 at 10:56 am
    I didn’t see the game but my biggest concern for Wright this year is him swinging at balls instead of taking the walk. I don’t want his new contract effecting his swing.