Mets Game 27: Win Over Braves

Mets 7 Braves 5

Mets prove that the Braves’ bullpen is in fact fallible — and Craig Kimbrel is human.

Mets Game Notes

Mike Minor stumbled at the beginning, but then set down 18 in a row.

Shaun Marcum was dealing for the first four frames, then things went awry in the fifth. He had the ideal approach against the aggressive Atlanta hitters, throwing soft stuff on the edges mixed with yet more soft stuff. I was mildly surprised that he got such a quick hook, but his pitch count was high (87 pitches in 4 1/3) and Terry Collins is managing for a job.

Fascinating to see LaTroy Hawkins not get crushed by the free-swinging Braves. Leading up to this ballgame, Hawkins has been living in the middle of the plate with not much movement. Against the Braves, however, he seemed to turn it up a notch and was mixing in a decent breaking pitch.

In the bottom of the seventh, with one out and men on first and third with the score tied, Andrelton Simmons attempted a safety squeeze. It failed as the ball rolled foul, but I like that play in that situation with that batter. Simmons has above-average speed, but hits the ball hard on the ground, so by bunting he almost assuredly stays out of the double play, and almost certainly gets the run home.

Another big reason I like the safety squeeze right there is because today’s MLBer swings from his heels with two strikes no matter what the situation. It drives me out of my mind — and I see it from Mets batters as well as their opponents — to see guys all the way at the bottom of the bat, hugging the knob, when they have a two-strike count in a close ballgame with runners in scoring position. This new approach (“new” meaning the past 10-15 years, though maybe it’s more like 20 years) of always having the same approach of driving the ball is great for individual numbers, probably excites the SABR crowd, but isn’t necessarily winning baseball — particularly in a short series (i.e., playoffs). The “old school” philosophy is to choke up a few inches (so that the batter has more bat control), crowd the plate a bit (for more plate coverage, and particularly to guard against pitcher’s pitches on the outside corner), take a shorter stroke, and punch the ball into the outfield. It doesn’t look as pretty, but it has a better chance of getting the job done. For those unaware, “the job” is to drive the run home, as runs are necessary to win games.

Marlon Byrd hit a solo homer in the top of the 8th to tie the game 4-4. Is it me, or does it seem like Byrd is going to play just well enough to keep a job? It reminds me of Rod Barajas‘ glorious 2010 season in orange and blue — he was barely adequate behind the plate, usually terrible at the plate, but he sprinkled in just enough dramatic homeruns and clutch hits to create the mirage that he was a useful cog. Then at the end of the year you looked at his numbers and was like, “how the heck did he keep a job?”.

Of course, a big part of why Byrd is still around is that the Mets outfield is a joke. Terry Collins may have sent out the worst fielding Mets outfield in 50 years when he penciled in Lucas Duda and Andrew Brown in the corners and Byrd in between.

Evan Gattis is a serious hacker; he looks like a raw caveman at the plate. Hmm … could that be his nickname — “Caveman”? I think it fits. If he doesn’t figure out how to lay off the down and outside breaking pitches, however, the feel-good story is going to end quickly. But, as long as pitchers like Brandon Lyon ignore the scouting report and feed him anything other than sliders in the dirt, he’ll hang around — as you saw, the man can mash. As for behind the plate, he impressed me with his receiving skills. Not sure why, but I had expected him to be awful back there. He’s more than adequate, providing a nice big target and receiving the ball quietly and with soft hands. His throw to second in the tenth with Valdespin stealing was strong, accurate, and he got rid of the ball quickly; he might have thrown him out had Jordan Walden paid just a bit of attention and/or thrown over to first once or twice.

Just when Craig Kimbrel looks unhittable, David Wright nonchalantly puts a 2-2 pitch well over the center field wall. Nice swing by David on a mistake of which few other hitters would have taken advantage (a 98-MPH fastball over the middle of the plate).

According to most “books” and schools of thought (old and new), you don’t put your closer into a tie game when on the road. So, Brandon Lyon started the bottom of the ninth. But, when Ramiro Pena swatted a leadoff double and was sacrificed to third, Bobby Parnell entered the game. FYI, Parnell is the Mets closer. So … why was he in there? And if it was OK to put him in at that point, then why not have him start the inning? Only The Shadow knows …

Good move by Collins to have Parnell hit for himself, show bunt and let Jordany Valdespin steal second, then replace him with Mike Baxter. If ‘spin is caught stealing, it’s the third out and Parnell pitches another inning. Hey, this is the first time he’s done something smart in two years, so I have to mention it. That specific move erases the other mysterious ones for this particular game. It’s like he’s managing for his job or something. Oh wait, I already mentioned that, didn’t I?

Jordan Walden can throw mid-90s heat, but his wildness is a bit scary; reminds me of former Met Jorge Julio in that he throws gas but looks really unsure of where the ball is going.

Why Walden sped up Ruben Tejada‘s bat with a slider after blowing two fastballs by him is any guess. He WAS throwing a nasty slider, but that’s not the pitch to use against Tejada in that spot. Clearly, Walden was afraid of uncorking yet another worm beater and left it hanging up in the strike zone. The slider should be buried off the outside corner and low in that situation.

Jeurys Familia gets his first big-league save. I hope Parnell isn’t ticked off about that.

Mets Game Notes

Game two begins at 7:10 p.m. on Saturday evening in Atlanta. Jonathon Niese goes to the hill against Julio Teheran.

Mets 2013 Games

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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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