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.

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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