Mets Game 28: Loss to Braves

Braves 9 Mets 4

A full day off on Saturday still wasn’t enough for the Mets to recover from their come-from-behind, extra-inning victory on Friday.

Mets Game Notes

It was a bad day for Jonathon Niese, who allowed 7 earned runs on 7 hits and 6 walks in 4 innings. Exacerbating Niese’s problems was horrific defense all-around. Lucas Duda badly misplayed a fly ball, John Buck couldn’t block balls in the dirt nor a ball that never hit the dirt, Ruben Tejada booted one, and even The Captain David Wright made a miscue. Miraculously, not one error nor a passed ball was charged by the hometown official scorer. Awful display of defense by the Mets, an awfulness matched only by the lack of integrity by the official scorer, who should be ashamed of himself for crediting so many hits. This is Major League Baseball, not the local Connie Mack league.

The Mets actually caught a break in a difficult bottom of the fifth, due to poor baserunning by the Braves. With B.J. Upton on second and Reed Johnson at first, and Tim Hudson batting and showing bunt, Jeurys Familia threw a wild pitch. Upton advanced to third, but Johnson, strangely, stayed put. Because Johnson was still on first, Hudson — a pretty good-hitting pitcher — continued with the plan of sacrificing. Interestingly, Hudson worked the count to 3-0 before dropping one down and giving up one of the Braves’ precious 27 outs. Had Johnson advanced to second — as he should have — Hudson would have been swinging, and might have walked or put the ball in play. In other words, he may not have had to waste an out, and that inning could have been even longer and more damaging than it was.

Leading off the sixth inning, down by five, Daniel Murphy swung at the first pitch and grounded out weakly to second base. Really? Bad, bad baseball. Similarly, with one out in the seventh and down by six, Marlon Byrd hacked at a first pitch and grounded out to third. Then, leading off the 8th, Mike Baxter fouled the first pitch he saw into the stands behind the third base line. Am I missing something? Or is it suddenly possible to hit a six-run homer with no one on base?

Tim Hudson pitched well, pounding the strike zone as he usually does. Hudson threw just 94 pitches through 7 1/3. Yet, it took four Atlanta relievers to get the final five outs.

I never really thought of Hudson as a Hall of Famer, but now that he’s won 200 games — and has a 201-105 record — and is showing no signs of slowing down, I’m starting to think of him in that way.

Next Mets Game

The Mets get Monday off to travel home to Flushing, where they will host the Chicago White Sox for a quick two-game set. Game one on Tuesday begins at 7:10 p.m. and has Matt Harvey facing Newark native Hector Santiago, who will be making only his second start of the season. The lefthanded Santiago is one of the only MLB pitchers who includes a screwball in his repertoire.

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. Dan B May 5, 2013 at 6:15 pm
    During Niese’s breakout year in 2012, he pitched behind Dickey a lot. Starting pitchers in games after Dickey starts had amazing stats. Is it possible that Niese isn’t as good as he looked last year? Is he just a number 3 or 4 starter?
    • Joe Janish May 5, 2013 at 8:55 pm
      I don’t think Niese is the #1 or #2 some people believe. He’s a very solid #3 who isn’t better than that because his arm angle is all over the place.

      You’ve (or someone else here?) mentioned the post-Dickey starts before — where is that info available? I’d like to see the numbers, it’s intriguing. Thanks.

  2. Izzy May 5, 2013 at 9:52 pm
    What did you all think about PHing for Davis in the failed comeback inning. Ike is not long for Queens in my humble opinion and Alderson loves Duda and his no swing approach. Duda cannot possibly be worse at first than he is in left can he?
    • TexasGusCC May 5, 2013 at 11:18 pm
      Izzy, I turned the game on in the sixth or seventh inning, just as Davis was hitting. I watch on the MLB package, so I opened the game to the Braves announcers and they were talking about Davis. So, I listened for a bit before turning to our boys. They had Dale Murphy there and I think Don Sutton, and the first pitch was a swinging strike on an inside fastball (surprise, surprise). One of them commented on Davis’ long, loopy swing and how the hitch in his swing is prone to prolonged slumps. Then, they talked about a homerun that Davis hit at Citifield that went over a draw bridge there, and how magnificent it was. They concluded (before Davis struck out on a high inside fastball) that Davis has to have everything working perfectly to be successful because of the long hitch in his swing doesn’t have much room for error.
  3. DaveSchneck May 5, 2013 at 10:13 pm
    Sounds like a good game to have missed. I think this edition of the Mets has 2 to 3 ugly games per week…not so much wins and losses or margin of defeat ugly, but ugly from he standpoint of poor quality of baseball. We are ready for you, Mr. Wheeler.
  4. Scottie May 6, 2013 at 12:01 am
    Hey Joe I know you’ve been talking about Niese’s arm angle for a while now, and considering he is now starting to struggle I think it deserves more press. Do you think his lower arm slot has gotten worse this year? Could it also explain why his velocity is (slightly) lower as well?
    • Joe Janish May 6, 2013 at 9:04 am
      Scottie, thanks for bringing this up.

      I don’t think Niese’s arm angle is any worse than it was last year — at least in terms of inconsistency. Over the past three years, it seemed like he’d mix in his higher (and better) arm angle more often in two out of every three games, and then that third game he’d be too far down most of the time.

      The “problem” — if you want to call it that — is that Niese produced very good results a few times last year with the lower angle, relying exclusively on the fastball and cutter. How or why? Hard to say. Maybe it was more about the hitters he was facing on those days than his stuff. Or maybe his stuff was that exceptionally (and unusually) good. So when he put up a few good performances at the lower arm angle, it makes it difficult to argue with success / suggest a change.

      As for his velocity … again, hard to say. He might be a few MPH lower simply because it’s early in the season and it’s been cold; many pitchers take a few months before they get to full strength. If he’s still averaging under 90 MPH come July, that would be reason for concern.

  5. gary s May 6, 2013 at 9:23 am
    I wonder what the tv ratings are at SNY on games where Harvey pitches and the pathetic wretches that start on the other days are??This whole group from the Wilnots down to Collins and the coaches need to go.Excuse me, that would mean we are really trying to win games.
  6. argonbunnies May 7, 2013 at 12:33 am
    I often see a runner on first fail to advance while the runner on second does. I assume that it’s because the split second the runner on first needs to see that the runner on second is indeed going costs them a good jump.

    I think Jose Reyes got the guys behind him paranoid after bluffing steals of 3rd. I remember at least one time the runner on first bought it, and took off for second base as Reyes was stopping.