Mets Game 42: Loss to Reds
Reds 4 Mets 3
Mets just have a hard time getting more than three runs a game, and a team usually needs more than that to beat the Big Red Machine.
Mets Game Notes
Shaun Marcum ran into trouble in the first frame, and though he recovered well, that was the ballgame. He relied primarily on breaking pitches and change-ups to keep the Cincinnati sluggers off-balance, but that tough start was too much for the Mets to overcome. It didn’t help Marcum that the Mets made multiple mistakes in the field — one of the key ones was Ike Davis suffering from a catatonic brain fart that led to an obstruction call in that fateful initial inning. It was the right call, despite Terry Collins‘ disagreement, and I’m not sure what Davis was thinking by standing in front of the first base bag as Joey Votto approached.
Meanwhile, Johnny Cueto made his first start since coming off the DL and providing his typical maddening performance. At times he looks unhittable, at other times, like he couldn’t throw a strike if he were three feet away and throwing underhand. He showed flashes of both sides of his Jekyll and Hyde personality, but was enough Doctor to hold the Mets to three runs in five frames. Not a great outing by any stretch, but the Reds bullpen shut the Mets down the rest of the way to preserve the victory.
Were the Reds relievers that good, or are the Mets hitters that bad? Hard to say, but the Mets struck out 14 times in this ballgame, and that’s too many.
Marcum completely mystified Joey Votto, which fascinated me. Votto has been one of my favorite hitters to watch for the past few years, and it’s always surprising to me to see a pitcher get him off his game — which Marcum did successfully. Interestingly, going into this ballgame, Votto was 5-for-9 career against Marcum with 3 walks and a double.
Daniel Murphy‘s habit of playing short field instead of second base nearly resulted in a base hit by Jay Bruce in the fourth inning. I understand he plays that deep to broaden his limited range, but he has to be aware that charging grounders is part of the deal when that far back. He just sat back and waited for the ball to roll into his glove. It’s a similar approach taken by Ruben Tejada this year — sit back and wait — and though my forte is catching, I know enough about infield play to know that sitting back is not what is conventionally taught. Is this an unconventional philosophy created by the Mets organization? If there are any infielders out there reading, I’d like to hear your take.
An inning later, Murphy botched a throw on a potential fielder’s choice, rushing his throw and throwing off his right foot, falling away from the target, rather than gathering himself, setting his feet and making a strong throw. This turn-and-jump thing has become a habit of his, and he succeeded with it a few times, but he uses it far too often — that’s a last-ditch, desperation move and not something to use regularly. Fundies, it’s all about the fundies.
Speaking of that fourth inning, about five minutes of the top half were spent showing a live clubhouse interview with Matt Harvey — who pitches on Wednesday afternoon. Are Mets games so boring that a more entertaining option is to hear about a pitcher’s off-day workout? There wasn’t anything particularly earth-shattering or new to learn — basically, it was Harvey saying he’d be doing some upper-body weight lifting work, some throwing, and he’d be watching the Reds hitters to plan his attack. Hey, some of that dialogue I’m sure was enlightening for some people, but it’s the kind of thing you expect to see during pre-game, or maybe when the umpires are reviewing video on a homerun call or some other on-field delay. But not during game action.
Brandon Phillips is some kind of second baseman, ay? He is a once-in-a-generation fielder, so enjoy every moment you see him play.
Rick Ankiel swung away on a 3-0 count with two outs and the tying run on second in the seventh against Sean Marshall. He fouled off the pitch, then fouled off the next pitch, then grounded out to second base to end the inning, leaving David Wright on deck. Was it the right decision to be swinging there? I think so, even though the team’s best hitter was waiting behind him. Why? Because theoretically, Ankiel is not going to get a better pitch during that at-bat from Marshall, who is deadly against LH hitters. Chances are good that Marshall gets that 3-0 strike anyway, and the result is the same. If there was only one out, I might be more hesitant. But with two outs, you have to take advantage of any opportunity to drive the run home, not sit back and hope and wait for the next guy — even if the next guy is your best guy, because there’s no guarantee that your best guy is going to get the run home, either.
Terry Collins was fired up from the get-go, and was finally thrown out of the game after arguing LaTroy Hawkins‘ case after the conclusion of the top of the seventh. Hawkins was tossed first, for barking at home plate umpire Tom Hallion after the third out. I’m not sure what Hawkins was complaining about, as the only questionable call of the inning came when Phillips was hit by a pitch. Phillips had started his hands forward and turned his elbow into the pitch, so there was some argument that he could have offered at the pitch and it be called a strike instead of a hit-by-pitch, but it didn’t seem to me to be THAT controversial a call — not enough to tell the ump to bleep off. I went through each at-bat / pitch sequence from that inning twice and didn’t see any other ball/strike call that Hawkins could have had a legitimate gripe, so I’m guessing that either it was that HBP call, or maybe some verbal exchange between Hallion and Hawkins after the call that set off LaTroy. Hallion has been known to be less than couth when conversing with pitchers, as David Price will attest.