Mets Game 68: Loss to Braves

Braves 5 Mets 3

Braves even up the series as Shaun Marcum fails again to earn his first victory as a Met.

Mets Game Notes

As mentioned in the Game 67 recap, I couldn’t watch this game as I was busy throwing out my back, straining my hamstrings, and blowing out my arm on a baseball diamond in Jersey City. It was fun, though, and I might just do it again next week — it was much more enjoyable than sitting home watching the Mets.

I did watch a few innings after the fact; the DVR ran out of space halfway through the seventh, so I saw the scoring. Marcum struggled mightily to keep his pitches in the strike zone, and wasn’t helped by the fact that catcher John Buck made an enemy of home plate umpire David Rackley early on.

The Mets scored their three runs thanks to more sloppy play by the Braves. With men on first and second and none out, Buck hit a hard grounder back to pitcher Kris Medlen, who inexplicably rushed a bad throw to third rather than starting a double play at second base. Terrible, terrible, terrible decision there — yet, it could have worked out OK if only Medlen took an extra second before throwing, to allow Chris Johnson time to cover 3B. It still would’ve been a bad decision, but the result would’ve been better.

On that play, the umpire called obstruction on Johnson, allowing Marlon Byrd to score — though it didn’t matter, as he scored easily, as did Lucas Duda following him from first base. Still, I’m not entirely sure obstruction was the right call, as Johnson was diving toward the wild throw, and didn’t have time to get out of Byrd’s way. Here is obstruction defined in the MLB Rulebook:

OBSTRUCTION is the act of a fielder who, while not in possession of the ball and not in the act of fielding the ball, impedes the progress of any runner.
Rule 2.00 (Obstruction) Comment: If a fielder is about to receive a thrown ball and if the ball is in flight directly toward and near enough to the fielder so he must occupy his position to receive the ball he may be considered ?in the act of fielding a ball.? It is entirely up to the judgment of the umpire as to whether a fielder is in the act of fielding a ball. After a fielder has made an attempt to field a ball and missed, he can no longer be in the ?act of fielding? the ball. For example: If an infielder dives at a ground ball and the ball passes him and he continues to lie on the ground and delays the progress of the runner, he very likely has obstructed the runner.

I watched the play six times in slow-motion, and, in my humble opinion, there was no way Johnson could have gotten out of the way in time — his momentum led him into Byrd’s path, and he was actually tumbling when Byrd was only two steps away. In my opinion, that’s “in the act of fielding a ball.”

Yes, I’m nitpicking, and the argument is moot since Byrd scored easily, but this blog is about learning baseball and evaluating the process as much as (if not more than) the result, and in this case, I feel the umpire’s process — and resulting call — was wrong.

If the Braves continue to run away with the NL East, I believe their weak execution will knock them out of the postseason early. The Yankees of the past few years were stronger fundamentally, and didn’t make it to the World Series because their sluggers all slumped at once. The Braves are even more reliant on the long ball because they need it to overcome their mistakes. From what I’ve seen so far, the Reds and Cardinals are much stronger at the little things, and can match up both with the arms and the bats.

One bright spot in Atlanta execution came when Jordan Schaefer scored from third with the go-ahead run on a wild pitch that dribbled about 8 feet from home plate. Normally, that wouldn’t happen, but since the Mets were playing that crazy shift with Brian McCann at the plate, Schaefer was free to take a 40-foot lead off the bag. He was so far off the bag, in fact, that I’m mildly surprised he didn’t attempt to steal home — he probably could have made it.

I think B.J. Upton may be out of his season-long slump. Just a guess.

Marcum’s inability to win is reminiscent of Anthony Young. Sure, Marcum’s a far way from 27 straight losses, but the prolonged ineptitude is a reminder of a previous — and strikingly similarl — dark period in Mets history.

Next Mets Game

Can a fifth game be considered a rubber match? I suppose so. Game five of this series begins at 7:10 p.m. on Thursday night. Jonathon Niese faces 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. TexasGusCC June 20, 2013 at 2:39 am
    Of all the things tonight that I saw, the one that bothered me the most was the shift on McCann with a man on third. They showed a wide shot of the left side of the infield and right away I was skeptical. Well, was it the next pitch or the one after? Like the Mets deserved that result or something.

    The one thing I liked the most was Neuwenheis continuing his clutch hitting. Bloops or blasts, I don’t care. Results only.

    • Izzy June 20, 2013 at 6:38 am
      Shaffer should have stolen home. Wright was about 75 feet from the bag.
  2. TexasGusCC June 20, 2013 at 2:59 am
    By the way, I think y’all may enjoy this article:

  3. Walnutz15 June 20, 2013 at 8:01 am
    That was some AB by Young in the 8th…I guess he “fits in” with the Mets already.

    Down 2 runs, man on 1st with 1 out….2 bizarre bunt attempts (fouled off badly) — then promptly grounds into a DP on the 4th pitch of the AB.


  4. DaveSchneck June 20, 2013 at 11:35 am
    Marcum has really had a strange year. Two losses out of the pen, including his excellent 8 inning stint. His record is lousy, but his peripheral stats aren’t bad, a WHIP of 1.33 with good rates in Ks, BBs, and HR per 9 innings. He is clearly the 6th starter on this team, given that Gee and Hefner are pitching very good and are younger and controllable. assuming the other starters are healthy, specifically Niese and Gee, Alderson needs to find a taker for Marcum soon so they don’t go long with this 6 man rotation, which no one likes.
  5. Dan B June 20, 2013 at 1:32 pm
    I hate that teams don’t punish other teams for shifting so much. A couple bunts and steals and the defense would have to shift back. I wonder about the damage a smart player like Willie Mays would of done against it.
    • DaveSchneck June 20, 2013 at 2:00 pm
      I agree 100%, with two cavaets – the batter needs to pick the right time situationally, and the batter has to show some competence on the execution side, specifically if it is using bunt to counter the shift. What I don’t understand is why guys, even big power/pull hitters, can’t go the other way every now or then – based on the situation – to keep the opposition “honest”
  6. TexasGusCC June 20, 2013 at 9:32 pm
    Another article on Fangraphs on the Mets. This is quite a rarity for a team to be written up two days in a row.