Mets Game 59: Loss to Cardinals
Cardinals 9 Mets 2
If nothing else, the Mets looked really nice in their uniforms.
Mets Game Notes
The game showed early promise for the Mets, as they jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the initial inning. However, that was not only the beginning but the end of the scoring for the home team.
That first inning was really the best opportunity for the Mets to win the game. They had rookie Michael Wacha on the ropes, with a golden opportunity to step on his neck, but instead, they did what bad teams do: they beat themselves senseless. With the bases loaded, one out, and Wacha struggling to find the plate, experienced, savvy veteran Marlon Byrd swung at two balls out of the strike zone, the second of which was lifted to center field for a sacrifice fly. OK, he got a run home, but with Wacha having all kinds of trouble throwing strikes, it could’ve — and should’ve — been a bigger inning had Byrd taken a strike. Normally, I like to see aggressiveness with runners in scoring position, but you have to consider the circumstances. And in that circumstance, the pitcher was looking like he was playing pin the tail on the donkey. Byrd gifted Wacha by swinging at two balls above his sternum.
Speaking of Byrd, I find it funny that the SNY crew gushes about what a “great job” Byrd has been doing this year. The man is hitting .243 with an OBP that’s barely above .300. I suppose that gives you an idea of how low this Mets team has sunk.
Did Jeremy Hefner deserve better? Probably. But, when you pitch for a team that doesn’t score runs and doesn’t play defense, you have very little margin for error and can only earn wins through perfection. Hefner has evolved into someone who might be a decent fifth starter for a team on the cusp of reaching the offseason. Unfortunately, that’s probably not enough to be valuable trade bait, and isn’t terribly helpful toward getting the Mets to the next level.
With Daniel Murphy and Kirk Nieuwenhuis out of position, and Jordany Valdespin and Justin Turner playing a position they hadn’t played all year, was it any surprise that defensive miscues contributed heavily to the loss? Perhaps it was a surprise to the stat freaks in the Mets front office, who seem to under-value defense. Loading up on guys with high OBPs and homerun power worked OK in the PEDs era, but in today’s game — which, more and more is resembling MLB in the 1970s and 1980s — the immeasurable details are more significant.
It was bad defense all around for the Mets, and the error count didn’t necessarily document their struggles.
In the bottom of the ninth, Keith Hernandez relayed a story from his playing days; he said Whitey Herzog would tell players to “go up and get your swings” in the final frame of a blowout. Keith approved of the edict, saying he “liked it.” Well, I don’t. First, I don’t believe in giving up, at any time, with any score. But perhaps more importantly, in this day and age, where relief pitchers are often vital to the final score and used daily, I think it makes good sense to take a strike in the ninth not only because you’re looking for a walk, but also because you are wearing down a pitcher who might pitch the very next day. Why let a pitcher off just because you’re losing by seven? Why not force him to struggle and pitch, with an eye toward taking him out of the next days’ game or causing him to be perhaps slightly less effective in the event he pitches again?
Speaking of not giving up, my Akadema Axemen won a 12U tournament playing with mostly 11-year-olds (and a few 10s). What was inspiring was that they were losing by 14 runs going into the fourth inning of a six-inning game in the final / championship game. But those tenacious little bulldogs came back to win the game and the tournament. Naturally, I missed the most exciting game of the year due to traveling for work, and now I’m wondering if I should stay away for good luck.