Mets Game 13: Loss to Rockies

Rockies 9 Mets 8

Mets seemed to have this one in the bag, leading 8-2 after five. Then, out of thin air (pardon the pun), the Rockies chipped away, tied it, then iced it in extras.

Mets Game Notes

I’m still not feeling Sean Green Greg Burke. How about you?

Rockies manager Walt Weiss reminded me of a tennis player in the fifth inning. You know how tennis players give up on a point because they know they can’t get to a ball and figure it’s best to conserve their energy? That was Weiss in the fifth frame, leaving Jeff Francis out to dry (or freeze?) as the Mets singled him to death. Weiss didn’t even have a reliever warming up (if such a term can be used on an evening like this) until the Mets were up 6-2. I guess it made sense — the Rox already won the first game of the double-dip, and Weiss likely figured it a better plan to leave the veteran throwaway Francis out there, rather than a) burn a reliever and/or b) chance injuring a pitcher with a future in the icy weather. Though, there’s a fine line between “keeping it close” and “chasing losses.” In the end, Weiss’ team won so this would seem moot, but I have to wonder if this game might’ve ended in nine innings had Weiss acted with more urgency in the fifth.

In contrast, Terry Collins was taking nothing for granted looking to stomp on the Rockies’ necks in that top of the fifth. Already up 7-2 with one out and the bases loaded, Collins sent Jordany Valdespin up to swing from his keister and hit for Aaron Laffey. Valdespin reached on an infield hit, scoring the eighth run. Good thing Collins made that decision; he needs to nail down every possible win he can this year. Nothing can be taken for granted — not for a manager in the last year of his contract, and who was scolded all spring.

In the third inning, Yorvit Torrealba made two throwing errors, the first of which led to two runs, the second of which nearly led to a third. The second error came when he attempted to throw out, from his knees, a stealing David Wright. First off, a catcher can’t be throwing from his knees unless he has a goshdarn shotgun for an arm, which Torrealba does not. And by goshdarn shotgun I mean a young Benito Santiago, Tony Pena, or Joe Janish. In all seriousness, even if a catcher has a great arm, a catcher with proper footwork will still be as quick or quicker throwing with his feet underneath him than he will from his knees — because it’s impossible to get the same kind of “hop” (i.e., velocity) without using the legs and core. Yeah, a catcher MIGHT be able to get rid of the ball more quickly, but there won’t be anything on it. What catchers at every level should strive to do is throw to second with absolutely perfect, repeatable mechanics — the same as a pitcher’s goal. Yes, that’s difficult when you’re reacting to, rather than controlling, the ball. But it’s still possible, and it should be the goal. See Anthony Recker, who has an above-average but not outstanding arm — but does a great job of repeating his footwork and throwing mechanics. It’s that consistency that allows him to throw out runners, because in the end, whether or not a runner is thrown out attempting to steal is rarely up to the catcher — it’s almost always a function of the jump the pitcher allows / runner gets, combined with the runner’s speed, the speed and location of the pitch, and the deftness of the fielder catching the ball and applying the tag. There are so many things that have to go right, and so little the catcher has in his control, that it behooves the catcher to focus only on consistent mechanics — forgetting entirely about all the other factors. It’s not easy, but it’s the best approach.

Torrealba was atrocious all game, with lazy glovework and footwork that led to two errors and a passed ball.

Though, Torrealba did hit a two-run double in the fifth that closed the gap to 8-6. The fly ball he hit was terribly misjudged by Mike Baxter, who had just entered the game for Lucas Duda (who left with lower back tightness). Ironically, he looked like Lucas Duda going after the ball. Can you blame the cold weather, and perhaps the wind, on misjudgment? Maybe, but this is getting to be a disturbing habit by likeable Mike. I say “likeable Mike” because I’m beginning to wonder if everyone thinks Baxter is a good fielder because we like him and want to believe he’s a good fielder. With this latest muff added to the heap of several others so far in this young season, maybe we should be thinking differently of Baxter’s defensive “prowess.” Perhaps people should stop themselves from saying/writing “uncharacteristically poor defensive judgment by Mike Baxter.”

Ruben Tejada‘s sixth error of the season allowed Colorado’s seventh and eighth runs, tying the game in the bottom of the eighth. It was a wild throw that followed an uncontested steal of second base by Carlos Gonzalez; reliever Bobby Parnell didn’t even look over at first base, and CarGo was off and running before Parnell lifted his front leg. By the time Recker caught the pitch, CarGo was about ten feet from the bag; if the ball were loaded into a bazooka, it wouldn’t have made it in time, and with a man on third, Recker wisely held the ball.

When is Star magazine or National Enquirer going to get the scoop on Tejada’s romantic problems? Or is there something else preventing the young shortstop from focusing?

Aaron Laffey gave the Mets four so-so frames, allowing 4 hits, 3 walks, 2 runs, striking out 3.

Speaking of Laffey, seeing him from the centerfield perspective, forty-seven spread across his slim back, slinging soft sliders from the south side, my mind races to scenes of Jesse Orosco. (Did I just channel Bruce Springsteen?) Though the Mets will never retire “47,” I don’t believe I’ll ever, ever associate that number with any other Met — and it’s weird to see another lefthanded pitcher wearing it.

Is it me, or does it look like Laffey is perpetually in the middle of a shrug?

While on the subject of hurlers with weird numbers, I get why Adam Ottavino wears “0,” but that doesn’t mean I have to be comfortable with it. I think you have to be really, really good to get away with wearing “0″ or “00.” Off the top of my head, the only MLBer able to pull it off gracefully was Al Oliver. Oddibe McDowell was a close second. I never really bought in to “00″ worn by Jack Clark — who was much too skinny and gawky for such a number — nor Jeff Leonard, who always seemed more sullen than cool. You have to be cool — like, Miles Davis cool — to wear zero or zeroes on your back. Sorry, I seem to have digressed …

I was slightly surprised to see Troy Tulowitzki appear as a pinch-hitter for Reid Brignac in the seventh with the bases loaded and two out. If the temperature were above 40 degrees, it would not have been surprising. But when the plan seems to be to rest your franchise player in the second game of a doubleheader, and it’s so damn cold, and he’s been sitting for several hours, you’d think that one would stick to the plan rather than risk injuring said franchise player — particularly since that franchise player has had a history of injury issues. But what the heck do I know? As it was, Tulo whiffed on three pitches — taking two strikes and then swinging at a ball two feet off the plate; that’s what happens when a player comes off the bench cold (literally and figuratively). Yes, the numbers suggested Tulowitzki would get a hit against Scott Atchison (career 1-for-3 with a HR), but sometimes the circumstances should prevail over the stat sheet.

Ike Davis dropped a broken-bat single into short left-center in the top of the eighth for only his sixth hit of the season. Adding to the concern: the pitch he hit was over the middle of the plate. How do you break your bat on a hanging 83-MPH breaking ball over the middle that’s hit to the opposite field? That’s really hard to do; a bat breaks on a pitch like that if the batter is ahead, and hits it off the end of the bat. But Ike was jammed, which defies logic considering how far he stands from the plate and the location of the pitch. He did step a bit toward home plate on his stride, but he started with an open stance so it didn’t cause him to be too close once his foot came down. Maybe he’s using a 38-inch bat? I can’t figure it out.

Props to the home plate umpire, who went barehanded all game. Couldn’t someone get him a pair of those convertible gloves, the ones where the tips come off, so he could keep his hands warm and still work the ball/strike/out clicker? I would have at least offered him a pair of batting gloves.

Next Mets Game

The Mets and Rockies will attempt to play game three on Wednesday night at 8:40 PM EDT. Scheduled pitchers are Jeremy Hefner and Jon Garland.

Mets 2013 Games

About the Author

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.

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