Mets Game 5: Win Over Marlins

Mets 7 Marlins 3

The Mets beat the Marlins to jump back over .500 and take a firm hold on third place in the NL East.

Mets Game Notes

In terms of process, Jonathon Niese did not pitch well. In terms of results, Niese was very good.

Niese had neither the same velocity nor command of his fastball that he did on Opening Day, but worked through it and battled enough to keep the Fish at bay. I love his competitiveness, but Niese’s arm angle concerns me — he was throwing from a low three-quarter slot, occasionally dropping down to nearly sidearm, from the first inning, and was “under” the ball (fingers slipping to the side or beneath the ball at release). I suppose it could be a function of fatigue; with his adrenalin rushing on Opening Day, he likely exerted himself a bit more than he was ready for, and he could have needed more rest before his second start. But, the Mets don’t have the luxury of allowing their de-facto ace to skip a day.

Because he was throwing from that low arm angle, he couldn’t get on top of the curve, and therefore the deuce had no bite. Hence, he relied more on the cutter.

The Fish went completely belly-up in the seventh, thanks in part to the horrendous throwing of Miguel Olivo — who made two terrible throws on stolen base attempts that wound up in short right field, allowing first Mike Baxter and then David Wright to advance to 3B. Also, it was stunning to see the Marlins pitch to David Wright with Daniel Murphy on third, one out, and the score 4-3 Mets. Personally, I’m not an advocate of intentional walks, but MLB managers love them, and that seemed to be one of those situations, considering that Wright is the Mets’ best hitter and Ike Davis has been struggling. Eventually, Miami intentionally walked Davis to face John Buck, who has been unconscious to start the season. How does that logic work? Oh, that’s right: same-handed pitcher vs. batter trumps all, in every situation. Dumb, if you ask me.

Filed under “ends justify means,” a bad throw by Mike Baxter pulled John Buck far to the right of home plate and in the path of Juan Pierre, who couldn’t stop his momentum after scoring and knocked over Buck as Greg Dobbs continued to second base. Pierre was called for obstruction, therefore Dobbs was called out and the inning was over. In that case, bad baseball was good for the Mets and turned into a break for them. Remember that play for a future situation in which you believe the Mets were the victims of bad luck.

Baxter also made an awful throw in the first inning, when Juan Pierre tagged from second to third. In that case, Baxter looked as though he rushed the throw, launching from a flat-footed position. Two innings later, Baxter had an opportunity to double off a runner at first after a sliding catch, and muffed that one as well. He had plenty of time and did get into a good throwing position, and the distance was fairly short — maybe 100 feet, which should be cake for an outfielder. However, he was about eight feet short of the bag, and Ike Davis couldn’t handle the short-hop. Is his throwing a case of poor setup and mechanics, or is there something wrong with his arm? Or is his arm just weak? I’m not sure.

Speaking of sore arms, it was revealed in the postgame by Terry Collins that Ruben Tejada is gritting through a sore shoulder. Though the Mets won, you have to be concerned about Tejada, who made another error; he now has four in four games. It was a throwing error, so you can blame the sore arm for that one, but he’s been less than crisp in general. Again, he was sitting back on slow grounders rather than being aggressive and charging the ball, which ironically is the opposite of what an infielder should be doing if his arm is less than 100%; rather, an sore-armed infielder would want to charge to both get to the ball quickly and cut down the distance of the throw. Tejada has looked tentative in general, and that should have nothing to do with an arm problem. It appears that he’s lacking confidence, or losing focus, or both.

After hitting a homerun on Friday night, Daniel Murphy followed it up with a deep triple. Has he re-discovered his power stroke? Not sure, because that blast was hit with one hand — I have to wonder if it carried more due to a combination of backspin and the wind blowing out than sheer power. But hey, Murph will take it, and it should help boost his confidence.

Miguel Olivo‘s work behind the plate has deteriorated quickly and markedly. It’s a case of someone who relied heavily on athleticism in his younger years, but never had efficient technique — common for catchers, who get very little instruction at every level, and the little bit they get is usually bad.

Next Mets Game

The rubber match begins at 1:10 p.m. on Sunday afternoon. Lefty Aaron Laffey makes the start against freshman phenom Jose Fernandez.

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. DaveSchneck April 7, 2013 at 10:54 am
    You comments on Niese are very similar to those in the past. I hope this does not put him at grater risk for arm trouble. To me a win is win and we’ll take as many as we can get. A minor observation – early in the game, Baxter caught a fly to right with Pierre stealing. He slide after catching it, but proceeded to make a horrendous throw to 1B. Frankly, this is a throw I could have made. I don’t watch many MLB games besides Met games, but it continues to strike me that the Mets make way more than their share of “mistakes”, be them mental or physical, errors or not. Is it just me expecting too much as a fan, or are they this mistake prone?
  2. DaveSchneck April 7, 2013 at 10:57 am
    Clicked submit too soon. We share the opinion on the throw, but how do they fix these continuous “small” issues? I have heard several managers stress “fundis” but it doesn’t seem to show. Do they just need better players or is there something else below the level?
    • Joe Janish April 7, 2013 at 4:53 pm
      Fundamentals do not require a special skill set; as for doing the right thing at the right time, it’s debatable. In both cases, the prescription is correct repetition.

      Once a player reaches MLB, it’s assumed he’s mastered the fundamentals. Of course, in today’s game that’s a grand assumption, as most talented players are rushed to the bigs for economical reasons. The last time I saw a Mets team that was strong all around in terms of fundamentals was 2006, and I think that was due to there being a number of “heady” veterans as well as the type of team Willie Randolph preferred. Did Randolph do something special to make his players better fundamentally? Maybe, but it may have had more to do with him playing guys who were good fundamentally (perhaps that was part of the reason Lastings Milledge didn’t play more often in ’06, and Ruben Gotay in ’07).

      The current Mets team has a mix of castoffs from other organizations and youngsters who may or may not have completed their training in the minors. There’s only so much a manager can do to raise or maintain fundamentals, and the bulk of the work occurs in spring training, when there is more time for repetition.