Mets Game 45: Loss to Braves

Braves 7 Mets 5

It took nearly 24 hours for the Braves to beat the Mets.

Mets Game Notes

Jeremy Hefner pitched as well as can be expected, allowing two earned runs on 3 hits and 2 walks, striking out 7. Unfortunately for Jeremy, one of those hits was a two-run homer by Freddie Freeman. Also unfortunately for Hefner, the relievers supporting him were from Flushing.

Terry Collins removed Hefner from the game not because he didn’t believe Hefner couldn’t continue to succeed, but because he wanted Hefner to feel good about himself. Per Collins (via MetsBlog):

“I was so excited that he pitched so well after he’s been so down about not winning a game. I said, ‘I’m not going to let this kid lose this game. I’m not going to do that,’” Collins said, acknowledging that Hefner felt good enough to keep pitching. “He needs to move forward with a positive attitude that he pitched very, very well.”

I admire what Terry wanted to do, but he doesn’t have the kind of bullpen to execute his well-intentioned plan — especially not against a big-hitting club like the Braves. Hefner was keeping the Braves off-balance, was cruising, not showing any signs of fatigue, and the bottom of the Braves lineup was coming up — with two of the hitters, in fact, had been struggling mightily of late and batting far below .200 for the season. In that situation, Collins has to continue riding his horse, at least through the seventh.

As soon as LaTroy Hawkins took the mound against Dan Uggla, you could see what was going to happen. As poorly as Uggla has been thus far this year, he hasn’t had trouble handling fastballs in the middle of the plate — and that’s what Hawkins relies upon. Boom. Bye bye win for Hefner.

Daniel Murphy remains hot, collecting two hits, but he remains mentally challenged after making contact, as evidenced by his ill-advised decision to try to stretch a one-base error into a two-base error in the 7th. On that play, he reminded me of a first-year T-ball kid, who hits the ball and then just runs around the bases without regard to where the ball might be — you know what I’m talking about, right?

The Mets caught a huge break when the umpires refused to call the game, despite unplayable conditions. The ball was squirting all over the place in the bottom of the eighth, yet the game went on, and thanks to players slipping, wild pitches, and hydroplaning baseballs, the Mets scored two runs. Too bad they couldn’t cash in on the break and do something 20 hours later.

Speaking of that first and final inning of Saturday evening, both Brandon Lyon and Craig Kimbrel looked really out of sorts. Perhaps it was too weird for the relievers to be pitching at what felt like the beginning of a game. Lyon was throwing BP, and didn’t even appear to be trying. Kimbrel couldn’t find the plate, and beat himself in allowing two baserunners.

Kimbrel caught a break when Ruben Tejada made a horrendous bunt attempt and popped the ball weakly into Brian McCann‘s glove with men on first and second. I constantly hear that Tejada is a very good bunter, but have yet to actually see him drop a very good bunt. His method was terrible — he wasn’t set up properly with the feet, he didn’t have the bat held properly, and he jabbed at the ball instead of “catching” it with the bat. Fundies!

B.J. Upton, however, was able to drop a bunt — a safety squeeze that brought home the Braves’ insurance run. Someone who isn’t following the Braves closely this year might have thought, “what the heck is Upton bunting for in this situation?” But the “other” Upton is mired in a season-long, Ike Davis-like slump, hitting about .150. That was a good move and it should have made him feel good to get a run home.

The Braves — and the Reds before them — appeared to be consciously pounding the ball inside against John Buck. Have the scouting reports identified a hole in his swing?

Ike Davis struck out four times in five at-bats, as did Marlon Byrd. Davis is now hitting .145 with 57 strikeouts in 153 at-bats, is playing below-average defense, has never run well, and is suffering from brain farts. But hey, he poked a pitch into left field in the bottom of the tenth, so there’s that.

A few days ago, Collins pinch-hit Juan Lagares for Rick Ankiel in the bottom of the ninth against Aroldis Chapman. In this game, he removed Lagares for Justin Turner in the bottom of the tenth against Craig Kimbrel. Was this the result of learning? Personally, I would have left Lagares in there, who runs a bit better than Turner and therefore might have had less chance of hitting into a game-ending double play (which Turner wound up doing).

Next Mets Game

The Mets and Braves take a half-hour break and do it again around 7:30 p.m. Dillon Gee takes the hill against Mike Minor.

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. TheKinginFlushing May 25, 2013 at 7:54 pm
    Hey Joe,

    I was wondering your take on the lack of fundamentals on this team. Is it Collins? As I have never actually played “big time baseball”, aka high school, college, semi pro, how much does Collins and the organization play into it? I’ve played competitive basketball through college and from that, I ve learned that coaching has alot to do on how hard you play, as in the little things. Is baseball the same way?

    I’ve watched alot of baseball during my life, but this team seems to just not care. Where is the heart or the curtesy to put on a major league performance? I understand it sucks playing for a team that has no hope, less Harvey. Can it really be possible that from the front office down to Collins and his minions have promoted a selfish, horrible baseball culture? Is it the players? I understand they are all AAA+ players but where is the determination? Even the best of misfits can put together an inspiring performance for 70 games a year. Im worried they will even get to 55 wins

    • Joe Janish May 25, 2013 at 8:11 pm
      King, good questions.

      Yes, it’s pretty much the same — managing/coaching approach will have an effect on a team’s fundamentals.

      Is it ALL on the coaching staff? Not necessarily. Part of the problem is that fundamentals should be learned in the minor leagues — and it seems that Mets players developed through their minor league system have not been properly trained on fundies. So at least half of the responsibility is on the farm system.

      However, fundamentals can be learned — and should be practiced — at the big-league level. There’s absolutely no excuse, for example, for a player not to be a good bunter and not be good at cutting bases and sliding. There’s also no excuse for improper fielding technique, These are things that can and should be practiced and developed constantly.

      Further, if the Major League manager places a priority on fundies, and demands that his players execute, then there’s a better chance a team will practice good fundies. Every Bobby Cox team was strong fundamentally – part of that was the fantastic “Braves Way” system, and part of it was Cox insisting on players executing.

      I agree with you re: the malaise on this team. Other than Wright and Harvey, I see very little intensity on this team, no urgency, no competitive edge. It’s as though the players already know that the team stinks, so they’re going to either cruise along and play just well enough to continue to collect a paycheck, or, do what they need to do to make themselves look more marketable for their next contract. That is something that reflects on the leadership of the organization, and their inability to put a competitive club on the field.

      • Dan B May 26, 2013 at 8:35 am
        I am not excusing the players but last year when the Mets were eight games over 500 in July, the team made no moves. And this off season even Duda’s mother knew the outfield needed help but they made no moves. When the team you play for doesn’t make winning a top priority then it must be hard for the players to care about winning.
  2. TexasGusCC May 26, 2013 at 1:22 am
    Two points:
    1. Tonight, I saw some of the Astros/A’s game. I admit to not following the A’s and thinking that their success is somewhat luck driven because they really don’t have many “stars”. Well, tonight I was impressed. What impressed me was their execution. No name guys that always hit behind the runner, always threw to the right base, executed the hit and run, work pitchers, and hit line drives. I was very impressed.

    Then, I come home and read this post. That, my friends, is the difference. They don’t have superstars, but they play properly. Nice job by Doug Melvin.

    2. The lack of energy is why fans are screaming for Valdespin to play. He is the only player that shows heart. It’s not that we think he’s great; we don’t know because he never got a chance. But, there are glimpses, so why not give the guy a chance. What the heck do we have to lose?

  3. Joe May 26, 2013 at 7:09 am
    Hefner has had a few bad outings, but overall, he has shown himself to be a respectable fifth starter, on a team that is playing lousy at that. I said at the beginning of the season that he would get a few wins and he pitched well enough so far to have. But, when a near no-hitter gets a pitcher a no-decision, it’s a lost cause.

    Turner has shown clutch hit potential so was a logical choice in the 9th over a light hitting Lagares. That was a tailor made double play — him running a bit slower didn’t seem to matter. Ruben, who can have good at bats, don’t know about bunting, was the goat there along with Lyons. Parnell, who has done his job overall as a closer, did a nice job getting out of trouble.