Mets Game 54: Loss To Marlins
Marlins 11 Mets 6
Early on, it looked like the Marlins were going to run away with this one. Then it looked like the Mets were going to pull out with a win. Then it looked like the Marlins were going to run away with it. And then, they did.
Mets Game Notes
The Marlins might have discovered Matt Harvey‘s kryptonite: bunts and bloops. Miami took full advantage of seeing-eye singles and a dead fish (pardon the pun) dropped by Juan Pierre to score three runs in the first frame.
But it wasn’t just luck for the Fish. In truth, Harvey didn’t have it in this game — and if you’re going to have an off-day, it may as well be against the worst team in the history of baseball, so there’s still a chance to win. He struggled with his command, particularly with the fastball. Frequently, his mechanics were off — his arm was dragging behind his body and dropping a bit below his normal three-quarters slot. As a result the ball was flying up and away from LH hitters / up and in to RHers. He threw 80 pitches in the first four frames, as the Fish pounded his change-up for singles and worked several full counts.
For the first time in his career, Harvey allowed as many as ten hits — and #10 came with one out in the fifth.
It was the right move to pull Harvey after five innings and a hundred pitches — he was out of gas. But why was Scott Rice brought in to start the sixth? Because he was well-rested? Baffling move by Terry Collins. Isn’t Rice the LOOGY that you save for the big out needed in the seventh or eighth?
There was a point when Rice threw 11 straight balls, and 12 balls out of 13 pitches, before he was left in to face Marcell Ozuna — another mysterious move by Collins. Then Ozuna swing at the first pitch he saw, a pitch a few inches outside. But, two pitches later, Ozuna drove in two on a line drive to the left-field wall.
Watching him catch about 50 games now, I have a feel for John Buck‘s defensive skills and game-calling. Both are better than we’ve seen from a Mets regular backstop in four years, but, in my opinion, he’s below-average in both areas. His pitch selections, especially with Harvey on the mound, often boggle my mind — I can understand why Harvey often seems frustrated with Buck and shakes him off frequently. Buck’s receiving is so-so; he catches the back of the ball instead of a side, as most MLBers improperly do. He’s slow with his hands on balls in the dirt and as a result, he doesn’t block pitches well at all. The best part of his game behind the plate is an above-average arm and, usually, a quick release.
Lucas Duda hit a bomb, his tenth homer of the year. His play in the field, though, remains questionable. He didn’t make any errors in the ballgame, but it’s an adventure every time the ball enters his domain — to the point where I’m surprised when he catches it cleanly. He struggles to get reads off the bat, has trouble judging the ball in the air, his footwork is awkward, and he seems to lose focus even in the middle of making a play. On a positive note, he has a decent arm.
Ike Davis also went yard — the first time since late April — using a brand-new stance. Now, Davis has his feet spread a normal distance, and he’s holding his hands a bit lower, with the bat vertical. Is that why he hit a homerun? I’d have to say the new stance puts him in a better position to hit the baseball, but don’t expect him to go on a murderous tear. At least part of the reason he sent the ball 400+ feet was due to getting a pitch in his wheelhouse — middle of the plate, about knee high. His blast tied the game 4-4.
Perhaps the hardest-hit homerun came from the most unlikely of sluggers — Omar Quintanilla. The Q-man hit a ferocious liner into the right-field seats to put the Mets on the scoreboard. He slashed another ball that nearly knocked first baseman Greg Dobbs‘ head off for a single. Big Q is no star, but does anyone miss Ruben Tejada?
What was nearly the biggest play of the game was the Marlins’ inability to turn a double play on Lucas Duda in the top of the fifth. Dobbs was a bit too slow in getting rid of the grounder, and shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria couldn’t get off a strong throw with David Wright going in hard to break up the DP. Marlon Byrd followed with an RBI single and then Davis lunged into a hanging slider to drive in another. (Glad to hear Keith Hernandez point out the poor execution.) Don’t believe little things mean the difference between winning and losing? That one botched double play was a prime example supporting the theory. There was no reason for the Fish not to get the two final outs — it was poor execution — and the result was the Mets going ahead by two runs and Miami losing the game.
Oh, and while on the subject of little things, in the bottom of the sixth, with one out, men on second and third, and the game tied at six, the Mets played the corners in against Chris Coghlan, who hit a grounder to Daniel Murphy to score the go-ahead run. Can someone please explain why Murphy and Quintanilla were playing back at double-play depth with the go-ahead run on 3B and no one on first?
Between that illogical alignment, the handling of Rice, and several other head-scratchers, I hope we don’t have to hear any more hot air about Terry Collins being a good in-game manager. He made one brilliant move in a game that otherwise was filled with puzzling choices back in early May, and ever since we’ve been hearing how “Collins won’t be out-managed.” Really?
According to an SNY graphic, Murphy is second in the NL among second basemen in game-winning RBI with 4. Huh. I thought they stopped tracking that statistic when Murphy was still in diapers.
Speaking of Murph, is he standing far away from the plate or am I seeing things?
After a promising start in a Mets uniform, Rick Ankiel has regressed to what he’s become — a hitter who has lost some bat speed and strikes out far too much, a fielder who’s lost a half-step and as a result can no longer make up for misjudged fly balls. He still hustles, makes few mental mistakes, has a strong arm, runs with above-average speed on the bases, and can occasionally hit a mistake over the fence, but he doesn’t provide enough to warrant an everyday job.
Interesting that Ankiel was in the starting lineup one day after Terry Collins proclaimed that Juan Lagares needed to play, and in particular, needed to be exposed to righthanded pitching.
Table-setters Juan Pierre and Ed Lucas were a combined 6-for-7 with 3 walks and scored 5 runs. Hard to win when you let the first two hitters get on base nine times.
Pierre is evidence that speedsters don’t necessarily lose their legs as they age. Pierre definitely lost his bat speed (not that it was ever lightning-quick), and he’s lost a step, but he’s still faster than the average bear. I like to point that out to people who use the losing speed tool as a reason it didn’t make sense to re-sign Jose Reyes, keep Angel Pagan around, or sign Michael Bourn. Sure, there were other reasons to let Reyes and Pagan go, and not sign Bourn, but losing their legs is not a strong argument.
Next Mets Game
The Mets get Monday off, then travel up to Washington D.C. to face the Nationals on Tuesday night. Game time is 7:05 p.m. Scheduled pitching matchup has Jeremy Hefner on the hill against Jordan Zimmerman.