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.

Next Mets Game

The final game of the series begins at 7:05 p.m. Jeremy Hefner goes to the hill against Kyle Kendrick.

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. Gavin April 10, 2013 at 12:43 pm
    Valdespin can hit, but he’s otherwise a poor to terrible baseball player, with poor instincts, a weak glove, and lousy baserunning skills. I know hitting is more than half the battle. But with Duda in LF, it’s difficult to put a bad center fielder out there — last Friday v. the Marlins the Mets suffered from dreadful OF defense. So this isn’t about “testing” the player’s patience; it’s about trying to put the best unit on the field.
    • Izzy April 10, 2013 at 4:41 pm
      If it was about putting the best product on the field then cowgirl would never be in the big leagues and Duda would never see the field. He is so bad out there he makes Greg luzinsky look like a decent fielder. And luzinsky was the worst outfielder I ever saw before Duda but at least luzinsky could actually hit, not just be talked about as someone who might hit someday.
  2. Dan B April 10, 2013 at 1:09 pm
    First, I want to say that Mets Today is the most unique Met blog out there. It is much uniquer then most sports blogs. Top five of uniqueness. I hate the 0-2 waste pitch. It is never close to being a strike, the hitter never swings, and the ump never calls it a strike. I am not asking for a meatball, but it should be close enough to tempt the hitter.
    • Joe Janish April 10, 2013 at 11:18 pm
      Ha! I can’t imagine a more unique comment!
  3. Steven A April 10, 2013 at 7:16 pm
    Regarding the 0-2 meatball pitchers. Never put it to a power hitter or with men on base. How many times have we wanted to pull out our hair when someone hits an 0-2 for a homerun
    • Joe Janish April 10, 2013 at 11:20 pm
      Devil’s advocate: how many times do we pull out our hair on 0-2 HRs, compared to how many times we pull out our hair when pitchers get ahead of batters 0-2, then walk them?

      I’ve not done the math but I bet the latter occurs more often.