Mets Game 17: Win Over Nationals

Mets 2 Nationals 0

For once, it’s the opposing team that beats itself.

Mets Game Notes

Credit this victory to Jayson Werth, who unbelievably swung on a 3-0 count with no outs and men on first and second against Scott Rice in the top of the 8th. Rice couldn’t throw a strike to the first two batters he faced, couldn’t throw a strike to Werth, yet the man who looks like a caveman acted like a caveman and swung at a 3-0 sinker, dribbling it to Ruben Tejada for a gift-wrapped double play.

Maybe Werth rolls into a double play on the 3-1 pitch — if that fourth pitch wasn’t ball four. But even still, it was incredibly stupid baseball by someone who is supposed to be a smart veteran. If it was Davey Johnson giving him the green light, then shame on both Johnson and Werth. I might feel differently if Rice had shown the ability to put the ball over the plate previous to Werth’s at-bat, but he was clearly struggling to find the strike zone. If you follow this blog you know I advocate swinging on 3-0, but the situation has to be right; that wasn’t the right situation.

But that wasn’t the only bad decision made by a Nat. Two innings earlier, with one out and Dillon Gee running out of gas, Denard Span attempted to take second base on a ball in the dirt. Generally speaking, it’s good to be aggressive on balls in the dirt, but again, it depends on the situation. Down by two, with the starting pitcher tiring and your top two hitters coming to the plate, there must be some caution. It was the kind of pitch that was likely going to get by John Buck and roll to the wall — in which case, Span could have walked to second base. So the thought process there should be: if the ball gets by Buck, go; if it stays in front of him, hold on and read the play before committing. Instead, Span was taking off the moment the ball hit the dirt, Buck made a remarkable backhand play to pick the ball cleanly, and was able to throw out Span by 15 feet.

Speaking of Gee, he was excellent through the first five, shutting out the Nats on three hits. Then in the sixth he lost it, walking three batters yet somehow escaping without allowing a run (one of those walks was to Span in the situation explained above). The Nationals seemed to be lulled into lethargy by Gee’s off-speed stuff — there never seemed to be any urgency by Washington, who were waiting back for something to happen.

The Mets offense wasn’t exactly rambunctious, either, managing just four hits on the day. They did extract three walks from starter and loser Jordan Zimmerman, but had only two baserunners after the fifth frame.

All in all it was just a lazy Sunday afternoon game. It’s a win, and the Mets will take it, but they must be a little concerned with Rice’s ineffectiveness.

Thank goodness for John Buck, whose seventh homer of the season — a solo shot in the second — was all that was needed for the victory. Where might the Mets be without Mr. Buck?

Next Mets Game

The Mets get a day off on Monday, then host the stumbling Dodgers for a three-game set that begins on Tuesday night at 7:10 p.m. Jonathon Niese takes the hill against Clayton Kershaw.

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. Eric April 21, 2013 at 11:13 pm
    A little concerned with Scott Rice? He’s been the most consistent reliever in the pen all season, and a tremendous positive surprise. He’s a great story, and I trust him more than any other lefty they have right now. It was really his first hiccup of the season, and he got through it unscathed. Sometimes winning baseball requires a little luck – and when things are going your way, good luck seems to follow, so I actually take this as a good sign that Scott is going to continue to have success this year.
    • Joe Janish April 22, 2013 at 7:54 am
      Sometimes winning a game requires luck. What Rice performed was not “winning baseball.”

      I focus on process here, not necessarily results.

      Rice is a great story, not a great pitcher, and that will bear itself out in the long run.

      • TexasGusCC April 22, 2013 at 8:01 am
        The guy has no dominant pitch, has as many walks as strikeouts, and looked afraid to throw a pitch over the plate. That was ball four Werth swung at. The Mets were about to lose and Collins was sitting in the dugout! He probably thought he stole one after ward. Or, I hope he thought that.
        • Eric April 22, 2013 at 1:17 pm
          Ground ball after ground ball. I’ll take it.
  2. DaveSchneck April 22, 2013 at 8:36 am
    I give Scott Rice tremendous credit for his perserverence in pursuit of a big league career. But, him pitching the 8th inning, not in a LOOGY matchup, is a recipe for disaster. I kinda can’t blame Collins, he needs to put someone out there. Adding back Marcum and Franky Frank should really benefit the staff, as they desparately need depth in the SP and BP. That said, two of three vs. Nats, with Harvey dominant, is a really good weekend for the Mets, and it is good to see Gee effective once again after his nightmares in Philly and the Colorado tundra. Special thanks go to Jason Werth.
  3. Joe April 22, 2013 at 10:38 am
    Sunday was karma’s reply to Saturday — not only did we get 2 out of 3 against the Nats, Laffey is gone. Do the Astros need a starter? [Get out of the 1st w/o giving up six runs? you are hired!] As to Buck, remember those who wondered who the Mets would use as a catcher?

    “Will (snark) John Buck be your starter?”

    But, hey, I thought Hefner and Laffey would give you a tad more, at least for a few weeks, so can’t talk much.

    They should try Collin McHugh a bit. He’s pitching well in AAA and though he didn’t really thrive (except against the Rockies), to be generous, in the show last year, if he’s replacing Hefner, low bar there.

  4. argonbunnies April 22, 2013 at 2:08 pm
    The slider Rice used to strike out Harper was nasty… I actually thought his stuff looked good, with adequate velocity and excellent movement; if he can get it over the plate, he should be fine.

    As for Gee, this was very encouraging, although his stuff looked different than in the past. He was throwing something at 74mph with a short break down and in to lefties, a second pitch at 86mph that broke in to lefties, and a third pitch at 81-84mph that broke down, and slightly in to lefties. Curve, cutter, slider? But after the game, he said he threw a lot of change-ups! I guess his change lacked the fade away from lefties it’s had for the past 2 years? And the break on his curve was half the size of his previous start. Weird.

    He got away with a fair amount of mistakes, but he also made a nice number of great pitches, about half of which home plate ump Mark Carlson missed. Absolutely brutal game for Carlson. Props to Gee for keeping his composure throughout; I’m not sure Jordan Zimmermann managed the same.

    Carlson wouldn’t give Gee strike three on a perfect slider at the knees to Harper, but he gave it to Hawkins on a fastball much farther off the plate. I guess it evens out in the end, but 6 innings and 1 BB would have been a much nicer line for Gee than 5 2/3 and 3 BB.

    Daniel Murphy is slapping at the ball again, routinely letting go with one hand. Is this a bad habit resurfacing, which he’s now diligently working to break? Or was he simply tired of slugging .700?

    Terry said he’s not moving Duda in the lineup, no matter how nice it would be to have him constantly on base in front of Buck’s HRs, as opposed to Ike, who never is. But Terry doesn’t want to get Duda out of his comfort zone. I guess everyone still thinks Duda’s a head case. True or false, it’s a shame.

  5. Jujo April 23, 2013 at 12:22 pm
    The Mets need at least one more starter (assuming Wheeler comes up in July). How about trading for our old buddy Chris Capuano? He had a very good year with the Dodgers and he is a reliever now. Perhaps give them Mejia for him? While I would prefer Capuano I would even take Chris Young to give 5+ innings. At least you know what tp expect-an even chance to win. Hefner needs to go to the BP and Laffey was well, laughable. I would love to see the rotation as: Harvey, Niese, Wheeler, Capuano and Gee. Put Hefner in the bullpen along with Francisco when healthy for whatever and keep Parnell, Lyons, Atchison, Hawkins, Edgin and Carson. We won’t have a dominant pen but at least TC would have many options to use night after night (hopefully the starters could take us through the 7th inning).
    • NormE April 23, 2013 at 2:46 pm
      Jujo, guys like Capuano and Young might be okay as insurance for a contender. The Mets are not a contender (say three times every four hours).

      With a thin bullpen guys like Cappy and Young don’t usually give you enough innings (especially Young). This puts too much strain on the bullpen.

      Then there is the issue of paying the veterans, which increases the payroll. That’s a no-no for the Wilpons.

      TC is just going to have to muddle thru with young guys or bottom of the barrel rejects.