Mets Game 23: Loss to Phillies
Phillies 5 Mets 1
The Phillies not only sweep the Mets in Flushing, but they also leap-frog over them in the standings, sending the Mets to fourth place.
Mets Game Notes
Jonathon Niese continues to throw from low three-quarters, and he slows down his entire body on the curve, likely telegraphing it to the hitter. He’s getting very little bite on the curve because of that angle; it turns into more of a slow slider that has to be bounced lest it hang up and be mashed. This issue was most glaring in the sixth and seventh innings, when all of his pitches were completely flat. He got the results he did more because he’s a fierce competitor than due to his stuff.
It could be argued that Terry Collins made the wrong decision in bringing in righthander Scott Atchison in the seventh, allowing Charlie Manuel to pull his wild card of Ryan Howard. However, I’d go back several more batters and suggest that Collins made the wrong decision in allowing Niese to start the seventh inning. Even though the results were there, the process was flawed and it was only a matter of time before the Phillies hitters took advantage — which they did. But then again, with the way the Mets bullpen has been performing, I can’t really fault Collins for sticking with Niese. Does anyone remember me stating concern about innings-eaters and solid relievers? This is an example of why — the quality pitchers who the Mets want to have around and healthy two-three years from now need to be protected. Injuries of overuse (as well as bad mechanical habits) occur when an athlete is pushed beyond fatigue, and there were signs that Niese had reached fatigue.
Speaking of Howard’s blast to deep right center: where in the world was center fielder Collin Cowgill playing Howard? It was clear that the strategy was to pound Howard inside, and with that strategy, you expect him to hit to the right side. Yet, Cowgill was playing too shallow for the beast, and too straight-up considering the strategy. It didn’t really matter — it was a blast and unlikely to be caught as well as unlikely to be held to a single.
Also in regard to that Howard blast: two big “boos” for Howard, who watched the ball in flight as he thought it was going over the fence, and for Jimmy Rollins, who was trotting (or “Cadillacking”) around the bases instead of sprinting with a full head of steam.
In contrast, I was coaching a 12U team on Saturday, and our leadoff hitter ripped a pitch a good 15 feet over the 210-foot fence in left field. He went like a bat out of hell around first and second bases, and had no idea it went over the fence until he was approaching third base and the coach there was telling him to slow down. This young man doesn’t get paid eight figures to play baseball — he does it for free. Yet the pros can take a lesson from that.
In the end, did it really matter how well or how poorly Niese or the relievers pitched in this game? No, not when the offense manages only three hits and one run. The Mets did draw 6 walks, but unfortunately, none of them came with the bases loaded.
Cole Hamels had pretty good stuff — swing and miss stuff — but had a hard time keeping it in the strike zone. There were several pitches, though, that looked darn close but he wasn’t getting, and I think that was a combination of the umpire keeping the zone tight (he was tight for both sides) and Carlos Ruiz trying to frame too often. I love most of Ruiz’s game back there, but HATE that he’s constantly jerking the glove on borderline pitches. I bet if he would just catch those pitches and “stick” (hold the glove), he’d get many more close calls. As soon as the catcher moves his glove, the umpire thinks, “huh, must’ve been outside the zone if he’s trying to frame it in.” At least, that’s what MLB umpires should be thinking — at any amateur level, it’s another story.
Freddy Galvis used a one-iron to lift a Niese curveball out of the dirt and over the fence to put the Philies on the board. It reminded me of that old golf joke: if there’s lightning on the course, play the rest of the round with your one-iron — because not even God can hit a one-iron.
After a hot start, Daniel Murphy continues to look weak at the plate, losing his legs and waving at the ball. Granted, Hamels is a tough pitcher who had him in fits, but this one-handed waving thing began several games ago.