Mets Game 9: Loss to Phillies
Phillies 7 Mets 3
For the first time in 2013, the Mets lose a series. It had to happen eventually.
Mets Game Notes
On the bright side, if the game began in the second inning, the Mets would’ve won 3-2. So there’s that.
The Phillies canceled their normal pregame routine, choosing instead to take in-game batting practice during the first frame. Luckily for them, Jeremy Hefner was more than happy to oblige, perhaps not realizing that the runs would count.
In all seriousness, Hefner was lucky to have allowed only five runs. He was the recipient of several breaks that went his way and resulted in outs — such as Ruben Tejada‘s savvy play of pushing Ben Revere‘s leg off the bag on a stolen base, and Jordany Valdespin‘s shoestring catch with the bases loaded a couple innings later.
Speaking of that “push” play by Tejada — no, a fielder can’t just randomly push a runner off a base and tag him out. But there’s nothing in the rule book (to my knowledge — correct me if I’m wrong) that says a fielder’s tag can’t push a runner off the base. To be safe, a runner has to have control of his body and control of the bag; in that particular situation, Tejada did EXACTLY the right thing and was in the rules. I’m not even sure the umpire saw the “push,” but if he did, it’s his judgment, and the push would have to be really blatant. His decision comes down to: was the runner coming off the bag more due to the push, or more due to a combination of the push and the runner’s lack of control? One of those “little things” that can win or lose a ballgame some day — just ask Ron Gant and Kent Hrbek.
Unfortunately for Hefner, Citizen’s Bank Park and the Phillies lineup is not a kind combination for a fly-ball pitcher who keeps his arrow-straight, 89-MPH fastball over the middle of the plate and chest-high.
Mets had a chance to score a run in the fifth when, with one out, Jordany Valdespin on third and Daniel Murphy on second, Ike Davis lifted a fly to shallow center that was caught by a running Revere, who fell to the grass after ball hit leather. Valdespin scored, except, not before Murphy — who had one of his trademark baserunning brain freezes — was doubled off second. Where Murphy thought he was going is anyone’s guess; it wasn’t as though he was being forced and had to be prepared to advance to third. Meanwhile, Valdespin jogged home, and though it’s debatable whether he could have scored in the time it took Revere to double-up Murphy, it doesn’t look good to be not running full speed at any time, and particularly in a situation like that. It was 100% Murphy’s fault the run didn’t score, but ‘spin’s half-hearted effort only underscored the larger team-wide Mets issue: they simply do not consistently practice winning habits. And, really, consistency in proper execution is the #1 winning habit. As Vince Lombardi said, “winning is not a some-time thing, it’s an all-time thing. You don’t win once in a while, you don’t do things right once in a while, you do them right all the time.” Feel how you want about that quote, but it is a formula for success in anything in life — it’s not confined to sports.
Though it was a briefer and different style of batting practice from Hefner earlier in the game, LaTroy Hawkins nonetheless looked like he was serving BP to the Phillies hitters. He seems perfectly healthy, and he has a nice, easy motion, but the straight fastballs he throws over the middle of the plate look incredibly appetizing. I’m not sure how long is his leash, but then again, I don’t see much inside the organization to replace him.
Lost in the Mets loss were two booming homeruns by Lucas Duda, yet another homer by John Buck, three infield singles by Valdespin, and a perfect on-base day for Mike Baxter. Baxter’s defense, though, wasn’t perfect — it only took one misjudged fly to outweigh his offensive contribution. Shame, since he’s generally very solid out there — but the wind was turbulent and created havoc. Whatcha gonna do?
Mets were 1-for-7 with RISP. Ouch.
Kind of stinks that Hefner got crushed so badly. From his postgame interviews, he’s respectful, humble, takes full responsibility, and provides full, detailed explanations for all the tough questions. How can you not admire that, and like him as a person for that? It’s not easy facing the cameras and microphones after an outing like that, but he stands there and does his job.
Next Mets Game
The Mets bullpen — and the rest of the squad — get a much-needed day off on Thursday, then move on to Minnesota for a three-game series in the Twin Cities Tundra. First game starts at 8:10 p.m. EST, with Jonathon Niese taking the hill against Scott Diamond.