Mets Game 8: Loss to Phillies
Phillies 8 Mets 3
What a difference a day — and a pitcher — makes.
Mets Game Notes
You can take your pick on the pitcher part of that opening. The Mets looked like a different team with Dillon Gee on the mound, and with Cliff Lee leading them, the Phillies were a stark contrast from Monday night’s contest.
During the bottom of the first inning, my thought was, “wow, Dillon Gee may be inspired by Cliff Lee‘s quick tempo and aggressive approach,” because Gee zipped through the first three Phillies batters in less than ten pitches. But it was all downhill from there.
Lee was his usual self — not spectacular, but incredibly efficient. Some pitchers “waste” a pitch when ahead on the count 0-2 and 1-2, but Lee is the master of the “waste hit” — i.e., with a lead and with none on and two outs, he occasionally presents a hittable pitch to “make him earn it” as they say. I swear he purposely delivered meatballs on the pitches that Daniel Murphy and Jordany Valdespin turned into extra-base hits. Even with less than two out, Lee seems fixated on ending a batter’s turn as quickly as possible, even if it results in a hit, perhaps because he’s confident that the next batter will hit into a double play. He’s not quite as awesome as he was a few years ago, but he’s still a pleasure to watch — I feel like I’m attending a seminar on pitching efficiency.
Speaking of Valdespin and his booming triple — where has he been for the past eight games? He’s far from my favorite player, but even I have to wonder why he hasn’t seen more action. Maybe the Mets see him as more of a super-utility guy than a regular? Or maybe they’re trying to teach him humility — or testing his patience to see how he reacts?
It always fascinates me to see Ryan Howard swing through bad sweeping sliders from lefthanded pitchers, because his homeruns almost exclusively are hit to center and left fields — which means, on those pitches he hits out, he’s waiting a long time, letting the ball “get deep” and swinging fairly late. The rinky-dink sliders of LOOGYs are effective because most power hitters pull the ball, which means they make a decision to swing much earlier, as they are looking to make contact two feet in front of home plate.
Also fascinating to me that a runner on third doesn’t steal home standing with Howard up and the third baseman playing behind second base. Maybe it’s because the Phils were up 7-3 and Chase Utley didn’t think it was appropriate or necessary to steal home when in that situation in the sixth, but he must be holding the idea in his back pocket for a more important time. With David Wright 90 feet away, there is nothing keeping Utley from taking a 30-foot lead and jogging home on first move by a lefthanded pitcher — he merely has to do it early in the count, and make sure Howard knows he’s running lest he get his head knocked off by a swing.