Mets Game 21: Loss to Phillies

Phillies 4 Mets 0

Mets drop the first game of the series and fall below .500 for the first time this season.

Mets Game Notes

Through the first five frames, the pitching matchup made the game seem redundant, as Dillon Gee and Kyle Kendrick are similar pitchers with similar approaches who had similarly effective evenings, relying predominantly on sliders and change-ups down in the zone and inducing weak, ground ball contact.

In the sixth inning, though, things changed drastically for Gee. The top of the Phillies lineup suddenly caught on to his scheme, and laid off the junk below the belt, forcing Gee to push the ball a little higher in the zone. A few singles and a Ryan Howard blast to center later, and the score was four-zip.

In contrast, Kendrick kept it going. And going. He went all the way — 9 innings of three-hit, shutout ball. He didn’t even allow a Met to get past first base in the second shutout of his career.

Interesting to see Kendrick focusing on the upper two quadrants of the strike zone against Jordany Valdespin, who has proven to be a low-ball hitter. Kendrick also pounded the inside half against Valdespin, who is so on top of the plate he didn’t realize the pitches were strikes and was visibly irritated with the umpire’s calls. Have the scouting reports already caught up to ‘spin? Will other opponents attack him similarly? Will ‘spin make an adjustment? We’ll see.

Terry Collins decided to shake up the lineup, installing Mike Baxter as the leadoff man, David Wright in the cleanup spot, moving up Lucas Duda and moving down John Buck, and — to Keith Hernandez‘s delight — batting Daniel Murphy third. Sorry, I still don’t see the logic of pushing Wright down (and Buck, for that matter). I don’t necessarily have a problem with Murphy in the three-hole — what baffles me is taking the chance that your best all-around offensive player won’t come to the plate in the first inning. Lineup positions can be overrated, but one simple rule must be followed: make sure your best hitters get the most opportunities. It’s kind of like setting up a starting pitching rotation at the beginning of the year — you put your very best pitcher in the #1 slot because you want to make sure he gets the most opportunities to pitch over the course of the season. I realize that Mike Baxter has been an on-base machine thus far and agree with using him in the leadoff spot. But at the end of the day, if you’re a MLB manager, do you really have any logical explanation for the possibility of Baxter and Ruben Tejada getting more chances to hit than David Wright?

Then there was the decision to move Duda up and Buck down. I guess part of it was that a righty was on the mound. I guess another part was the over-thinking nonsense of not having two batters of the same handedness in a row. Whatever. Will Collins stay with this formula to see if it’ll work, or will he trash it after the smallest of sample sizes?

Although he didn’t make any errors, I didn’t like the way Tejada was going after a few ground balls. He’s still in the habit of sitting back and waiting for slow grounders, and backhanding them instead of charging and/or getting in front of them. If an infielder has time to put his entire body in front of the ball, that’s what he should do; the backhand allows too much room for error, particularly on bad hops.

Next Mets Game

The Mets and Phillies do it again on Saturday afternoon beginning at the FOX-friendly time of 1:05 p.m. Shaun Marcum is scheduled to make his first start as a Met against Phillies phenom Jonathan Pettibone. Actually, Pettibone isn’t exactly a phenom, but I like the alliteration.

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. TexasGusCC April 27, 2013 at 2:31 am
    Joe, I have some questions and if you have time, please give your opinion.

    1. Two years ago, Davis was said to have a sweet swing and was hitting .325, 7 HR, 25 RBIs in April. He was lauded for that sweet swing and going to left field with power. Now, he stands far away as he stands from the plate and seems to miss every high inside fastball they throw. Do you think he is in a funk or homerun happy? Can a player be in such a long funk, or is he not making adjustments? After all, he hit .255 and 20 HR in the second half last year.

    2. It appears that there is a severe disconnect between the General Manager and the Manager. I say this because Lagares was brought up, when Cowgill is not getting any playing time and Byrd is on the roster. In the spring, Collins didn’t play Valdespin in the outfield because he wasn’t that good there and didn’t have a good enough arm. However, Valdespin is playing nothing but outfield. Hence, we have six outfielders on this team. One plays everyday. The other five are three right-hand hitters and two left-hand hitters. Doesn’t it make sense to treat Valdespin as an outfielder and bring up an infielder for one of the right-handed bats?

    3. I remember going to Jet games and hearing that “Joe must go” chant. It seems like the fans are getting ready for the “Terry must go” as they see moves that are deemed ‘unpopular’. It’s still only April, but does a General Manager at some point tell his Manager that this is the plan and we need to see so-and-so play, or does he just let him manage?

    4. My outfield would be Lagares, Valdespin, Cowgill, Duda, and Brown. Since we are punting, let’s see what we got here. Byrd and Baxter are wasting our time; Brown is hitting .351 in AAA again this year for a different team; Cowgill needs an extended chance (I actually feel badly for the guy); and Lagares was actually brought up, so play him or send him back. Do you feel that Baxter and Byrd add enough to this roster that they need to be in Queens?

    • TexasGusCC April 27, 2013 at 3:07 am
      To clarify on question #4, I am not saying this should be the outfield all year, but for at least the next two months to give each guy about 125-150 ABs and then re-evaluate.
    • Izzy April 27, 2013 at 3:04 pm
      I must be much older than you Gus because I remember going to NY Football Giant games when the fans were chanting goodbye Allie. Met fans should be chanting goodby Alderson because the stuff he has given Collins has been pure crap. Do not feel bad for Cowgill because he’s a minor leaguer staying in the bigs too long because Alderson’s ego always causes his guys to stay way too long.
  2. argonbunnies April 27, 2013 at 5:14 pm
    In his prior starts, Gee was botching his change-up, causing it to miss high and not dip at the end. At the same time, his fastball was tailing away instead of hitting the glove. Those all sound to me like he was getting under the ball, although I couldn’t spot any telltales in his arm slot.

    He did that to the first batter of the game on Friday, but then fixed it and was pinpoint with his fastball and change-up through the fifth. In the sixth, the problem recurred.

    I disagree that the Phillies stopped laying off bait pitches in the 6th. Gee threw plenty of quality pitches in the strike zone in the first 5. In the 6th, he simply started throwing awful pitches, which got clobbered.

    • Joe Janish April 27, 2013 at 10:47 pm
      Gee’s previous control issues weren’t due to arm slot, they were due to opening the front side too early, which in turn led to releasing the ball just a bit too early. Usually, premature opening happens from over-rotating.