Mets Game 16: Loss to Nationals
Nationals 7 Mets 6
Mets hang tough but wind up on the wrong side of a seesaw battle on a dog day afternoon.
Mets Game Notes
It was “Bark in the Park” and it looked as though the hounds might have outnumbered the humans at a sparsely stocked Citi Field.
Gio Gonzalez was cruising early, then had a meltdown in the bottom of the fourth as the Mets scored five runs in a 22-minute half-inning. I’ve seen Gonzalez go through this before — he completely loses his release point, and can’t recover. It’s reminiscent of Oliver Perez‘s glory days, when Ollie would look unhittable and then, out of nowhere, unable to throw a strike. Gonzalez has done a much better job of minimizing those meltdowns, but they do emanate from a similar origin. Like Perez, Gonzalez over-rotates during his leg lift, which requires his body to correct itself unnaturally in order to remain efficient and consistent. Unfortunately for pitchers, 99% of coaches at every level believe that velocity comes from hip rotation. The truth is much more complicated, but because of this myth, we have thousands of pitchers who resemble discus throwers and put themselves into an impossibly inefficient position to throw strikes. In any case, Gonzalez fell into a rut of opening too early or releasing too late, and it nearly cost the Nationals the ballgame.
Lucky for the Nats, the Mets had the grand idea of backing up Jeremy Hefner with their other BP pitcher Aaron Laffey. Given a 5-3 lead, Laffey got two quick outs in the top of the fifth, then walked Jayson Werth and allowed a double to Bryce Harper. He stunned Adam LaRoche with an 88-MPH fastball on the outside part of the plate, and thought he might sneak another one by him in the same spot. Well, that strategy generally doesn’t work against MLB hitters, and LaRoche responded by depositing the pitch over the center field fence to send the Nats ahead of the Mets.
The Mets came back to tie it up in the seventh on a John Buck double, but the lead lasted only one pitch into the top of the 8th, when Bryce Harper put the Nats back on top with a solo shot (his second of the game) onto Shea Bridge off Josh Edgin.
Edgin was often “under” the ball, meaning, his hand was at the side or below the ball at release. Additionally, his elbow was low, as his arm angle dropped to low three-quarters and almost sidearm. It’s hard to get any kind of downward movement with that kind of arm action, and as a result Edgin’s pitches were flat and moving on a lateral plane. He could get away with that against lefthanded hitters, but eventually, righties will eat him up.