Mets Game 25: Loss to Marlins

Marlins 2 Mets 1

Jeremy Hefner just couldn’t do the job. What a disappointment.

Mets Game Notes

Apparently, Hefner thought all he had to do was throw 8 shutout innings — how presumptious! Hey Hef, let me let you in on a secret: you play in the NATIONAL League, which means you have to hit, which means you can’t just toss a ball down a hill and call it a day — you gotta provide somethin’ with da stick, too!

Wait … what do you mean there are 8 other guys who hit every day to provide the offense?

In all seriousness, Hefner gave exactly what the Mets needed, and then some. Eight innings, allowing four hits, no walks, one hit batter, striking out 8 in an incredibly efficient 107 pitches — including 70 strikes. It was the greatest MLB outing of his life, and may remain that status. What else could he have done, other than hit a three-run homer?

As it turned out, yeah, he needed to hit a three-run homer, because the other guys holding wooden sticks didn’t do much to support him. Cy Young Kevin Slowey limited the numb Mets bats to four hits, no walks, and one run, striking out 8 in an 8-inning, 106-pitch effort (73 for strikes). No, I didn’t just copy and paste Hefner’s line in there — the two pitchers put up nearly identical numbers.

Perhaps the sleepy bats on both sides had something to do with the marathon game from the previous evening. I’d buy into that — and one has to wonder if the entertainment value would have been enhanced if greenies were still allowed. But I think there’s more to it than exhaustion. Hefner’s performance had at least something to do with the fact he was facing a AAA lineup. That’s not an exaggeration. Think about it: the most dangerous bat in the Miami lineup was Greg Dobbs, who is — at best — a utility guy / pinch-hitter on any other team in MLB (other than maybe the Astros). Dobbs as the big bat is kind of like Roger Bernadina being the “ringer” on the Netherlands’ national team in the WBC — except, Bernadina had quasi-protection in the lineup in the form of Andruw Jones. If Jones wasn’t in Japan right now, he might be batting cleanup for the Fish.

On the other hand, the Mets had a few guys in their lineup who are legit — David Wright, Daniel Murphy, Ike Davis, Lucas Duda, for example. Is Slowey that good? Were the Fish a lot less tired? Did the 15-inning loss not only drain the Mets’ energy, but also their motivation?

Hey, we can easily blame third base umpire Tim McClelland for blowing the call in the ninth. But the truth is, the throw by Anthony Recker was high, Chris Coghlan beat it and was under the tag, and it was circumstance that would have caused him to be out. It was a GREAT play by David Wright, in that he held the tag on Coghlan the entire time — that’s exactly what you kids should do, instead of the inane choice that many players take of showing the umpire the ball after a tag. McClelland, unfortunately, was in a bad position to make that call; not necessarily the wrong position to make the call, but a bad vantage point for how that play evolved. You can’t blame McClelland for his inability to see the future. You can’t blame him for not asking for help, because it’s his call and he was the umpire closest to the play. Further, you can’t blame McClelland for Recker’s bad throw, nor Recker’s choice to throw to third instead of first. Nor can you blame McClelland for the plays that led up to Coghlan’s advancing to third, nor the plays that led to Juan Pierre crossing the plate with the winning run. Oh, and you can’t blame McClelland for the Mets’ futility on offense.

Was McClelland’s blown call key to the loss? Sure. But also key was the Mets’ inability to garner more than four baserunners and a run off of Kevin Slowey.

For the record, I liked Recker’s aggressiveness in that situation; I just didn’t love the execution. Recker needed to make a perfect throw, and I found it great that he had the confidence that he could do so — it just didn’t work out. Had he gone to first, he likely would have gotten the out, but that still would’ve meant a man on third with only one out and many ways to score. It’s like choosing slow death over a shot at beating death. Maybe, had Recker gone to first to get the out, Coghlan scores anyway on a sac fly, wild pitch, squeeze, error, or base hit, and we have another 15-inning marathon on our hands. I liked the gamble — but, that’s me.

What I didn’t like was the passed ball by Recker that allowed Coghlan to get to second. The wild pitch that allowed Pierre to score … hmm … debatable. Should Recker have stopped it? Maybe. I don’t know. That was a tough pitch to block, and Recker hasn’t had much experience catching Brandon Lyon. Both that pitch and the passed ball surprised Recker, and I believe unfamiliarity was a factor in both.

Interesting tidbit: while the Mets are third in the league in runs scored with 119, only one NL club has allowed more runs than the 118 allowed by the Mets — the Phillies, who have allowed 122.

Next Mets Game

The Mets will try to avoid the sweep on getaway day, with a start time of 12:40 p.m. Dillon Gee goes against Miami batting practice pitcher Wade LeBlanc.

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 May 1, 2013 at 8:07 am
    Collectively speaking, Jeremy Hefner has been a very serviceable 5th starter – from the time he joined the club last season.

    Yes, he’s given up a bunch of HR’s so far in 2013 – but overall, he typically keeps the Mets in a ballgame….whether or not they help him out in getting a “W”.

    Last night, he was solid vs. a bad Marlin club. Wish I could say the same for the rest of the pitiful Mutts.

    Anthony Recker single-handedly turned the 9th inning into an adventure. In essense, he RECKED the entire game.

    That passed ball on the bunt attempt was as bush as they come.

    It only got worse from there, with the obviously blown call – but really, the decision to go to third was iffy at best, with the throw he unleashed. Terrible job by McClelland, but that’s what happens when you’re out of position to make a call.

    It was at that point where I said to my brother, who was on the phone – “this is either going to end on a HBP or a wild pitch”… sooner was it said, than completed.

    Looking back, it may as well have been a balk. That would’ve been the only thing to make me chuckle harder than I did last night.

    Good job, Mutts.

    • Joe Janish May 1, 2013 at 8:56 am
      At this point I’m less interested in discussing the minor league teams that played in Miami last night and more interested in debating the process of the ballgame. That said, I wonder about the umpiring on that fateful play at third. Do you think McClelland could have put himself into a better position to make that call? I don’t think he did such a bad job there. He missed the call, yeah, but where should he have been? Remember we have the benefit of seeing the play from several TV angles, and we know now how the play evolved — with that knowledge it’s easy to be critical.

      When I put myself in his shoes, at that moment in time, I’m not sure what I would have done differently to be in the perfect spot to make the call on that specific play. Before the pitch, he has to start out behind 3B, so he can make the call on a grounder down the line, right? It’s not like he knows for certain there’s going to be a bunt, Recker’s going to pounce on it, then make a risky throw to 3B, and that the runner is going to over-slide the bag. The entire play happened in about three seconds — was that enough time for McClelland to get where he needed to be to make the call? Should he have been able to anticipate the over-slide and be in a better spot? Or was he in the right spot for initial throw/tag? Maybe he wasn’t. I’m honestly not sure — I don’t know enough about umpiring and how they’re supposed to position themselves for the myriad situations that can occur.

      • DaveSchneck May 1, 2013 at 12:30 pm
        Sorry to routinely digress into rants against mgmt/ownership. I must say that I truly admire your love for the game and ability to maintain focus on the process of games played at such a relatively low level.
        • Joe Janish May 1, 2013 at 10:28 pm
          Dave, I gave up rooting for the Mets a long time ago. I’m a “Mets spectator” now, and a “baseball fan.” Until Bud Selig completely obliterates the game, I’ll be a diehard baseball fan and continue to enjoy watching the sport. And for me, especially as a coach, my interest is in studying the game objectively, picking out things that might help young ballplayers, parents, and coaches. It just so happens that I live in the NYC area and the only team playing real baseball locally is the Mets.
      • Walnutz15 May 1, 2013 at 1:23 pm
        Ehh, he took entirely took long to get there. Slow as molasses = slow to the play….and that’s where he couldn’t get himself to where he needed to be, to see Wright keeping the tag on, the entire way.

        I don’t think he was even in the on-screen picture when it happened.

  2. Izzy May 1, 2013 at 8:31 am
    Sleepy bats!!!! Very lame excuse. A’s Angels played 19 innings on Monday and managed to score 16 runs last night. I guess they had sleepy arms. No excuses necessary for rotten teams. Mets scoring first couple weeks showed the uniqueness of the game. It doesn’t take professionals long to figure out how to adjust to 4A level players. And the GM has provided an awful lot of them, infielders, outfielders, starters and relievers. Is there one area he has improved the team???? Maybe catcher. Certainly nowhere else. Collins will be the Alderson scape goat. He’s lost it. 10-15 people will buy tix to see new manager Backman argue with umps. That will get old and alderson will dump him. But who dumps Alderson? Wilpon or Selig?
    • DaveSchneck May 1, 2013 at 9:53 am
      It is ALL on the GM. I know you despise him, and I have tried to be “objective”, but I just can’t see any other conclusion being legit. The April schedule was quite favorable and they are 10-15, losing the last 5 to divisional opponents that have a collective 12-31 records in games not involving the Mets. Putting aside optimism vs. pessimism, and being realistic, things may get much worse given the upcoming opponents. Regarding Mr. Alderson, IMHO the time for him to prove his worth was this past offseason. Prior to that he was restricted by the financial crisis. Even giving him a win on the Dickey deal, and granted that the 2013 stat is a small sample, he failed on all fronts to improve the team. He should get no slack for “losing” Santana, after his performance last July/August there was no reason to “count” on him for 2013. His offseason acquisitions were terrible, and left the team thin everywhere. IMHO, unless the 2013 team shows improvement over the 2012 team, he does not deserve the opportunity to manage the upcoming offseason. He has done nothing, nothing to provide any confidence that he can improve the team. Sitting around waiting for prospects should never be confused with discipliine, it is not. I’ll try not to say this again, as it is a broken record, but the good franchises manage to provide a consistently strong MLB product while maintaining a productive system, and the bad franchises do not.
      • The King May 1, 2013 at 11:36 am
        But what’s been the common denominator during all these wretched years? The Wilpons. We’ve complained about the GM, the one before him, and the one before him. Same thing with the managers. Same thing with the players. Change will come when the Wilpons go. How can that happen? Hit them in the only place that it hurts–the wallet. Despite what the Supreme Court says, baseball is a business. So make their business go bad. STOP buying tickets. STOP buying merchandise. If you insist on going to a game, STOP buying $9 beers. The day the Wilpons’ business model becomes untenable and they have to put the team on the market is the day hope returns. Otherwise, we’ll be wringing our hands about guys like Cowgill and Recker until Kingdom Come. Happy May Day, y’all.
        • DaveSchneck May 1, 2013 at 12:27 pm
          Happy May Day to you as well. We all know the Wilpons have been only one notch above the Marlin’s owner. They control the purse strings. But, unless the GM/owner lied this offseason, and it is very possible since they have lied before, the GM had some money to spend and/or trades to make, and came up lame, regardless of whether this team turns it around or not. He strung the paying fan base along about being “in the mix” for an OF upgrade, which was a joke. Problem is, Towers and the rest of baseball knew Mets weren’t in the mix for JUP given Alderson’s unwillingness to trade Wheeler. The GM also did nothing to determine whether Mets could keep the 1st round pick and watched Bourn go elsewhere. I could have made the Dickey and Beltran trades, as those trades were made not based on anything Alderson did, but based on decisions by his trading partners. I could do nothing as GM as well, for 1/100th of the cost. Doing nothing does not qualify as patience or discipline, it qualifies as doing nothing. Alderson’s offseason acquisitions are the same to me as doing nothing. If grown adults want to spend their own money paying premium prices for the 2013 Met product, so be it. I think many will heed your advice, but it cannot motivate the Wilpons to sell unless it pushed the paying fans under 1 million in a season and showed enough organization to continue the “boycott” until ownership changed. Possible but highly unlikely.
        • The King May 1, 2013 at 3:25 pm
          Dave, You’re probably right. But given the dreck they’re putting out on the field this year, maybe 1 million, 1.2 million paying customers who actually show up may not beyond possibility. Other than pure dumb luck, which the team ran out of about 27 years ago, nothing else is going to work (actually, not true–a new Commissioner, who isn’t a pal of the Wilpons and who realizes a black hole in NYC is bad for the game could change things). As for Alderson, he’s a good corporate guy, he’s not going to blame the Wilpons, he takes the hit and says he had money but there was nothing out there. It’s not lying so much as it is being paid to take the heat. Everyone knew for months before the season started that this team was deficient in almost every aspect, and he did nothing to improve it. Alderson isn’t stupid; he didn’t have the resources. The Wilpons have screwed up everything they’ve touched, including Citi Field (not the cozy little ballpark we all expected, is it?–I never though I’d be nostalgic for Shea, but it happens every time I go there). They’ve got to go and, as fans, our only leverage is $$$$.
        • NormE May 1, 2013 at 5:41 pm
          King, well stated.
          In actuality, Alderson is working for Selig. Old Bud convinced the Wilpons to hire Sandy. The idea was to prove that you could build a winner on a small budget. Obviously this appealed to Fred and Co.
          Boycotts and falling revenues will put Fred behind the eight ball. If he fires Sandy he shows disloyalty to Bud. Also, the possibility exists that Sandy may someday replace Bud, if he ever retires. That certainly wouldn’t bode well for Fred if he did fire Sandy.
        • The King May 1, 2013 at 7:35 pm
          Norm, you undoubtedly are right. There must be a ton of stuff that goes on among important people, said and unsaid, that we are not privy to, and it affects the product on the field in ways that we cannot imagine. So, I beg you all, go to your windows, open them and yell as loud as you can “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore!” Then spend your hard earned money somewhere else. We can do this.
        • Joe Janish May 1, 2013 at 10:38 pm
          King, Dave, Norm — great banter here. Well, the subject isn’t exactly positive, but this is good dialogue to have.

          I’m a HUGE proponent of minor league and independent baseball — and there are several teams in the New York Metro area to watch. If you haven’t yet experienced the intimate joy of non-MLB baseball, try it sooner rather than later. The minors and indies really understand that it’s important to give the customer value, and the players play like their lives depend on the outcome of the game. And the best part is you don’t really have to spend much money to enjoy a thoroughly satisfying evening (or weekend afternoon) of baseball with the family.

          In other words, don’t look at it as a boycott of the Mets, but a “reallocation of resources” toward another pro team that more efficiently meets, and gives more bang for buck for, your annual budget.

          As a PR guy it’s my job to always spin things in a positive manner.

        • DaveSchneck May 1, 2013 at 10:29 pm
          I do not fully buy into the Selig-NYC Moneyball conspiracy, but your point about Alderson as commish is an excellent one. Freddie isn’t canning Sandy any time soon, at least until Uncle Bud retires and his successor is made public. The best we can hope for is that Alderson performs better based on the law of averages.
        • The King May 2, 2013 at 12:08 am
          Just to follow up on what Joe said, he’s right, I’ve been to a lot of minor league games at almost all levels, and they’re a lot of fun. The quality of play is good, the prices are reasonable, the atmosphere is a little old timey, and the players are accessible. Better to give your money to someone who isn’t pretending to be offering anything other than a minor league team.
      • Izzy May 1, 2013 at 6:37 pm
        Despise him? I have no feelings for him. He is a failure. That’s all. Every position has deteriorated except catcher and third base. Every year his free agents are flop, his dreg finds are a total flop. His best sign was Hairston who sucked his first year. His best pitcher sign was Capuano and he let them both walk vice trading them. His great prospects haven’t touched the bigs and the catcher isin his sixth year in the minors, always damaged. He needs to be the first to go, but it will not happen.
  3. Warren May 1, 2013 at 9:28 am
    Sorry to say, Ike Davis is not a “legit” player in a MLB lineup at this time.
    • Joe Janish May 1, 2013 at 10:43 pm
      Agreed, he’s not legit right now, but in terms of looking at the two lineups with a cursory glance, Davis has a better reputation based on past performance than just about everyone in the Miami lineup. Maybe Juan Pierre or Placido Polanco could be rated higher, but that’s tough considering their ages. I mean, Davis did hit 27 homers from June through the end of the season last year, and that goes a long way toward establishing “rep.”
  4. argonbunnies May 2, 2013 at 3:45 am
    Worse than Recker’s physical errors was Lyon’s pitch sequence to Solano. 6 straight pitches away is stupid to any hitter, but to a guy whose strength is the opposite field, it’s really unforgivable.