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.

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. Walnutz15 April 10, 2013 at 11:25 pm
    Turns Met game on for 2 seconds……sees Valdespin loafing toward home plate on a tag-up, not crossing the plate before the 2nd worst baserunner on the team (Murphy) gets doubled off 2nd base in no man’s land.

    2nd and 3rd, 1 out – nothing across.

    *Clicks off SNY*

  2. Walnutz15 April 10, 2013 at 11:34 pm
    Actually, I’m lying — I flipped back because I heard loud, booming noises, that I first presumed was thunder.

    Turned out, it was actually bats slamming LaTroy Hawkins offerings all over the yard. Think he leads the league in clean shots off the outfield fence so far, as one of them was smoked so soundly – it ricocheted back to Baxter, holding the runner to a single.

    The foul ball the leadoff man in the inning (Mayberry) hit into the Upper Deck told me I should stay.

    He didn’t disappoint, giving up a 2-run bomb – right down to the last laser that almost took Murphy’s glove off, as it sailed into the outfield before he was taken out.

    Falling behind hitters, 3-1 every AB – coupled with a puss “fastball” doesn’t bode very well for his Met career.

    In going back to review DVR:

    – Good to see Duda launch a couple, himself.

    - Really time for Ike to get an idea before getting in the box. Nobody’s going to lay it on a silver platter anymore.

    Though, to his credit, this time he didn’t complain to the umpire. Instead, he seemed to be jawing (albeit passively) about the pitch he was thrown. Not that it wasn’t a strike..that it wasn’t the fastball he was looking for.

    He really looks lost at the plate so far.

    - I watch Valdespin for the game within a game. Only guy who could grab a few hits, have a nice drag bunt single – 2 sliding plays in CF……..then piss you off by having no brain.

    Not necessarily on that play, as he should have scored just fine – if not for Daniel Henderson showing us his usual lack of instinct on the basepath. Last time he started, he was a ball magnet – getting his by pitches and throws…getting picked off terribly.

    It’s this space cadet routine that has Collins hesitant about giving him some legit burn, you can sense that he doesn’t really love him.

    What an ugly ballgame. Hefner should probably sit out the next Philly game.

  3. Paul Festa April 11, 2013 at 1:26 am
    No reason to dog it there. Run hard all the time. It’s the least you can do. And now you know (And knowing is half the battle!)
  4. Paul Festa April 11, 2013 at 1:27 am
    Actually, the least you can do is nothing. The second least you can do is run hard.
  5. Wohjr April 11, 2013 at 1:56 am
    Duda took another 3-0 meatball and grounded out 3-1 in the 5th or 6th just like you pointed out last week joe. Hawkins ugh
  6. TexasGusCC April 11, 2013 at 2:34 am
    Confessing to not having seen a game yet this year due to work, I read every story on each game from the newspapers to the blogs. The main problem after these three games in the the phone booth called Citizens Bank Park seems to be the back end of the rotation. However, two of these three starters were very, very good last week. And, early in every season, the hitting is ahead of the pitching.

    My problem is the lineup and the players run out there. Byrd: .269; plays semi-regularly. Davis: .127; still batting cleanup (protecting Wright?). Valdespin: .400; great bench guy, can’t start him.

    I know that Valdespin makes stupid mistakes. Who doesn’t on this team? Tejada not charging grounders? Murphy base running blunder? Duda plopping on fly balls in the gap? Etc.

    If I were making a lineup for Friday’s game, here is what it would look like against Vance Worley: Valdespin LF, Baxter RF, Wright 3B, Murphy 2B, Buck C, Duda DH, Byrd CF, Davis 1B, Tejada SS.

    This is my best lineup RIGHT NOW! As people start producing, they can move up or get into the lineup. Make people produce and accountable for their playing time. I hate managers that want to play everybody regardless of their production. You produce, you play; you don’t, you sit.

  7. DaveSchneck April 11, 2013 at 8:30 am
    The Mets are running 2 minor leaguers ou there every 5 days, and Gee is most likely a #5. This problem will not go away when/if Marcum returns. If the GM sits tight, they will lose 100 with this SP. I give Hawkins credit for looking atnd throwing as well as he does at 40, but he will be the 1st to go from this pen. I have not played organized baseball since little league and am pretty certain I can hit a line drive off him as every pitch looks the same. I am not sure what theey can do with a guy that runs the bases like Murphy. If you can’t see a guy is going to catch the ball 70 feet in front of you looking directly at the play, it is rather hopeless. Yes, Spin inexplicably jogged down the line, but even sprinting wouldly have scored that run. The amount of unacceptable mistakes this team makes, year after year, is beyond blaming the coaching. It is systemic and falls more on the GM and minor league development. Anyhow, LGM in balmy Minnesota.
  8. Izzy April 11, 2013 at 9:07 am
    If you all complained every time a guy didn’t run full speed to the plate when there was no play on him the blog would have nothing else on it. Nobody, including everyone bitching about Valdy could have remotely thought that any ballplayer, even daniel Murphy, could be so stupid that he could be doubled off on that fly ball.Its easy to bury Valdy. He’s apparently the heir apparent to a long line of players that Met fans love to hate. However, the culprit was Murphy, and only Murphy on this play.
    • Walnutz15 April 11, 2013 at 10:00 am
      I don’t see anyone “bitching” about Valdespin – but I guess you’d know better than anyone about the topic, as to what would constitute it.

      Personally, I’ve liked Valdespin as a player – from the second he was called up – and feel that he embodies a lot of the qualities (particularly speed) missing from the Met lineup for too long a time now.

      You just don’t have any concept of keeping a historical opinion, and lump everyone in the same bucket when they fairly criticize a player.

      No, he wouldn’t have scored last night — but he’s been in the bigs for 5 minutes and should be running hard, no matter what.

      Murphy?

      Worst baserunner I’ve ever seen, and this dates back to a handful of years ago. He’ll never learn, and last night is proof of it.

      I don’t “love to hate” Valdespin….but will call a player out on ridiculousness when it happens. He finds himself in the middle of it a lot, and it’s part of the reason I’d like to see more of him.

      Figure out what exactly he’s capable of here.

    • DaveSchneck April 11, 2013 at 12:34 pm
      True.
  9. Dan B April 11, 2013 at 1:50 pm
    on a bright note, who had game 9 for when Met’s catchers increase their homerun total over last year? Does this change any plans for catcher?
    • NormE April 11, 2013 at 5:15 pm
      Prior to the season the general hope was for Buck to do well enough for the Mets to be able to package him this summer for some young talent(s).
      Now that he is doing better than anyone could have anticipated the question Dan B throws out for discussion is interesting. My answer is “No” the plans do not change. Buck could continue to have a great year, but he is not the future. Besides, the Wilpons aren’t going to pay his salary when D’Arnaud is younger, probably more talented, and cheaper.