Mets Game 20: Loss to Dodgers

Dodgers 3 Mets 2

No dramatics from Jordany Valdespin this time.

Mets Game Notes

Kind of a shame that Jeremy Hefner pitched as well as he did and walked away with a no-decison. He allowed only one run and three hits in seven innings; I’m not sure he’s going to perform that well against a legit lineup very often (legit meaning “not the Marlins”). Hefner did a great job of keeping his non-sinking fastball at the knees, and as a result the Dodger batters had a hard time lifting pitches into the air. Also, those low pitches led to several much-needed double plays that pulled Hefner out of difficult situations — he allowed the leadoff hitter to reach base four times in his seven innings of work.

Ron Darling briefly talked about Hefner using finger pressure to move the ball. I was a little surprised (only a little) to hear the same “old school” concept of using pressure with the middle finger vs. the index finger — which was first mentioned publicly by Tom Seaver in his book The Art of Pitching. Since the advent of high-speed film, we now know that the tip of the middle finger almost always is last to touch the ball (for pitchers and fielders) — even if there is a conscious effort to use “index finger pressure.” Further, the middle finger is the “power finger,” in that (biologically) it has the ability to apply the most spin to the ball. That said, it makes sense to focus on always using the middle finger when applying pressure; the key is in manipulating that pressure on different spots on the ball, and on the edges of the seams in particular.

Hyun-Jin Ryu was impressive, pounding first-pitch strikes like it was his job. Oh that’s right — it IS his job to do that. He matched Hefner pitch for pitch, with an acceptably efficient 109 pitches in 7 frames. (Hefner was even more efficient, with 93 tosses in 7 IP.) However, the game seemed to grind to a halt when the bullpens took over — which was great for getting me sleepy but not great for entertainment. It took 20+ pitches per inning for each of the LA relievers to get three outs. Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz …

Scott Rice, who was charged with the loss, retired the one batter he faced in the 8th, but gave up the fateful two in the ninth. They’re called Lefthanded ONE OUT GuYs for a reason — a manager can only expect one out before the risk of a LOOGY being over-exposed. Though, the third run crossed the plate as a result of Bobby Parnell allowing an inherited runner to score; Parnell didn’t exactly “shut the door.”

LA closer Brandon League earned a save by the skin of his teeth, and not before allowing an Ike Davis solo homer. Ike was 0-for-3 with two Ks prior to the blast. He can really cream those balls over the middle of the plate.

I’m starting to see Daniel Murphy‘s weak one-handed swing creep back into his repertoire. The first two weeks of the season, he was almost always using both hands through contact, letting go with the top hand after getting extension. However, he started letting go of the top hand prematurely, usually when there were two strikes on the count. I’m not sure why he goes one-handed in defensive situations; one would think he’d use two hands for more bat control. In any case, that one-handed habit became his regular swing, regardless of count, at some point last year — which had something to do with his power outage. I will be keeping a close eye on his top hand going forward.

For a brief period early in the ballgame, Dodgers catcher Ramon Hernandez used a really nice, low, balanced, wide-footed, sitting back, upright upper body catching stance — something I don’t remember him using previously. But after a few pitches, he snapped back into that awful, unbalanced crouch, with his feet close together, his knees outside his feet, and upper body crouched over the knees. Interestingly, it’s the same exact stance used by Henry Blanco, and I wonder if it’s a Venezuelan thing — i.e., something taught to young catchers in that country. Though, I don’t think Victor Martinez catches that way, and not sure about Francisco Cervelli.

Weird play in the sixth, when a pitch hit the knob of Lucas Duda‘s bat and deflected off his leg. Had the ball not hit his body and gone into fair territory, it would have been live. A lady who plays / played competitive softball will tell you they do that on purpose in their game. Duda curls his pinky under the knob, so he’s lucky he didn’t smash it.

Nice seeing Anthony Recker behind the plate. Not so nice seeing Recker at the plate. I wonder how long it will be before Bud Selig allows a DH for the catcher? And then, a middle infielder? By the year 2020 MLB should have offenses and defenses, just like the NFL. Heck, maybe MLB will go all Herb Washington and allow designated runners as well. What a lovely game it will be!

The official, reported attendance for this game was 24,851. Really? I guess half the crowd was waiting on line at the Shake Shack, and another few thousand hanging out in the various clubs and suites, because there weren’t more than 10,000 sitting in their seats. I know it was a Thursday afternoon and kids aren’t out of school yet, but such a sparse crowd must concerning to the bean counters.

How does Juan Uribe walk three times in one game? It’s rare for him to walk three times in A MONTH.

The Mets left 7 runners on base and were 0-for-5 with RISP, but it seemed much worse than that.

Next Mets Game

The Mets host the Phillies in Flushing beginning Friday at 7:10 p.m. Dillon Gee faces Kyle Kendrick.

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 26, 2013 at 8:17 am

    I’m not in the boat that so many others have seemed to be in for the past 2 years, looking to bury him after sluggish starts.

    However, I give you – Isaac Benjamin Davis.

    Through April 25 — 2012:

    (69 Plate Appearances)

    .123 / .174 / .262 / .435
    3 HR’s
    21 K’s
    4 Walks

    Through April 25 — 2013:

    (77 Plate Appearances)

    .174 / .260 / .348 / .608
    4 HR’s
    23 K’s
    8 Walks

    Just about the only thing I can say about Ike so far, is that he hasn’t been “as bad” as he was last season.

    That’s not necessarily a huge positive, but at least it’s something. *shrug*

    – Valley Fever last year,
    – Knocking off the rust – post-ankle injury that kept him out most of 2011, etc

    Say what you will, but his swing mechanics have been awful throughout. To the point where I worry about the result anytime he’s in a “cerebral” part of the count — meaning, not jumping on something early….or on a mistake all-together.

    Plain and simply put: he needs to be much better about taking the ball to the opposite field, and working on becoming more dangerous at the dish. By doing that, opposing pitchers will have to start thinking about him some more.

    Right now, he’s too easy to pitch to – IMHO.

    What disturbs me most is that he’s not as willing to adjust to how he’s being pitched — not that he “can’t” do something, due to a limitation as a ball-player.

    He actually goes to the opposite field very well, to my eye.

    Hopefully, he can get himself on the road to taking consistently better AB’s.

  2. Izzy April 26, 2013 at 11:11 am
    Re: your :game seemed to grind to a halt…..” Doesn’t almost every game seem that way when the starters leave and the managers feel the need to show that they are in charge by making way too many calls to the pen!!!!! And the only time Collins doesn’t make charges is when he leaves Rice in when Parnell should have started the 9th, and then he wakes up and brings him in after Rice blows the game. Collins gets an F for his managing yesterday. The starters, both of them, get an A+ for doing their job very well.
  3. DaveSchneck April 26, 2013 at 11:48 am
    Nutz –
    Ike has improved his HRs 33%, hit OPS 40%, and his BBs 100%. What’s the problem? Actually, very good points. This is a make or break year for Ike, and he is far from a given, despite his 2nd half 2012. He just looks very liable at the plate, like a guy that good pitching can get out at will.
    Why in the world did Collins start the 9th with Rice? I know he has limited options, but he saw the gift Rice got from Werth earlier in the week, and that is a spot that most managers use their closer in, if available, and he was obviously available. The outcome may well have been the same, but that made no sense IMHO.
  4. TexasGusCC April 26, 2013 at 1:04 pm
    Guys, it seems that Collins’ best managerial move was to make nice with Beltran. He doesn’t seem to have a plan with his bullpen, players don’t have roles unless they are starters, and it seems like he does not hold you accountable unless he is forced to, or your name is Valdespin.
  5. TexasGusCC April 26, 2013 at 1:09 pm
    I present Ike Davis batting in the middle if the order everyday until this last series as Exhibit A, Rice’s situations as Exhibit B, Byrd’s playing time as Exhibit C (when he is not part of the long term plan), and I would love to get to more, like Baxter swinging at first two pitches leading off in a one run game, and many more from this week alone, but I need to keep my job.
  6. Steven A April 26, 2013 at 3:52 pm
    I am not sure if you were being critical of the fact that Parnell allowed the third run to score. It was an infield hit that allowed the run to score.
    • Izzy April 26, 2013 at 10:27 pm
      If you were responding to me I was complaining about Collins bringing in his closer after the mediocre loopy was allowed to start the inning and lose the game. What Parnell did was irrelevant since the manager mismanaged his pen badly in the ninth.
    • Joe Janish April 26, 2013 at 11:15 pm
      I wasn’t being critical, I was stating fact. Parnell came into a tough situation, and couldn’t shut the door.

      Back in the old days, the “closer” was called the “fireman” because he was brought in to “put out the fire.” The game’s changed since then, as closers almost always come in at the beginning of an inning and start off clean.

      Though it wasn’t a save situation, it was very strange that Collins held off on using Parnell until there was trouble. If you’re going to use Parnell when the situation gets tough, then why not just start him at the beginning of the inning? Instead, Collins put two pitchers into situations for which they are not prepped — Rice is a one-out guy, and Collins was looking for two or three outs across multiple innings. Parnell is a closer but was asked to be a fireman. It was knee-jerk, desperation bullpen management.

  7. argonbunnies April 27, 2013 at 5:03 pm
    When asked why he didn’t use Parnell to start the inning, Collins said he doesn’t want to use Bobby in tie games in case he’d need him to close the next day and he wouldn’t be available then.

    I hope he was merely caught off guard and being defensive; if he actually believes what he said, that’s dangerously stupid. “I don’t trust any of my pitchers to hold a 9th-inning lead that may or may not exist tomorrow, so I’m saving Parnell for that possibility, rather than using him now in situation that actually exists and is more important to pitch well in.”

    Separately, for the first 5 innings, Ryu did a better job of hitting the glove with all his pitches than any pitcher I’ve seen this year.