Phillies 13 Mets 8
Not exactly the way the Mets wanted to start off the second half.
Mets Game Notes
Though the final score separated the two teams by “only” five runs, it wasn’t that close — no matter how hard nor how many times Gary Cohen tried to convince the television audience that the Mets were “one swing away” from getting back in the ballgame. This was a Phillies laugher from start to finish.
Everything that could go wrong went wrong in the first three innings. Poor pitching, poor defense, lack of thought — the Mets put on a clinic of how not to play baseball. I know that the players had a few days off thanks to the All-Star break, but they played the first few frames as if they’d been off for months.
Jeremy Hefner had his you-know-whatties lit by the Phillies hitters. Is it because the Phillies are hot? Because Hefner has a mental issue with facing the Phils? Was Hefner suffering from a case of John Maine disease? I’m not sure, but Hefner was throwing plenty of hittable pitches, and the Phillies were teeing off on them. Granted, he wasn’t helped by the Mets defense, but the final score was the result of ineptitude.
The Mets scored eight runs, which might be considered a good thing, until you realize that the Phillies pitchers — Kyle Kendrick in particular — were serving up meatballs in challenging hitters because of the large lead. Give credit to the Mets hitters for taking advantage, for sure, but don’t be fooled by the offensive outburst.
Chase Utley still doesn’t have the powerful hip rotation he did before the injuries to his lower half, but he’s getting a little more extension and “oomph” than the past two years. Combined with his incredibly short, flat swing that puts the bat head directly to the ball, he’s again a power threat, as seen in his fifth-inning homer. His swing on that blast reminded me a little of the swings taken by Bobby Murcer and Roy White in old-old Yankee Stadium (and Johnny Damon in the newer versions of the park) — they were smallish lefty hitters who took advantage of the short right-field porch by being quick to the ball on inside pitches and jerking them just over the fence.
Not long after Utley’s dinger, Domonic Brown collected an infield “base hit” on a routine grounder to Daniel Murphy. Yeah, beating a dead horse, but jeez, Mary, and Joseph — are you kidding me? Had Murphy been playing at “normal” or “conventional” or “typical” depth for a Major League second baseman, Brown is out by five steps. But because he plays only footsteps in front of Marlon Byrd, Murphy couldn’t charge in for the slow grounder by Brown in time, and it skipped off his glove. Atrocious. But hey, BeelzeBud Selig’s dream of bringing a minor-league experience at the Major League level is slowly (quickly?) being realized.
Finally, though, Keith Hernandez commented on the unusually, ridiculously deep positioning by the Mets middle infielders — both Murphy and Omar Quintanilla, who also muffed a few balls. I’m glad someone is paying attention. And since it was Keith who criticized the positioning, it has to be true — right?
Josh Edgin executed one out, but also allowed two hits, including Utley’s homer. He looks exactly as he did before being demoted to AAA — poor location and straight fastballs. If batters don’t chase his slider, he’s dead meat.
On a positive note, John Buck is hitting much better lately, thanks to his approach of focusing on going the other way — which is the perfect adjustment to pitchers following scouting reports of pitching him away with soft stuff before jamming him inside.
I’d like to add Ike Davis‘ two hits to the positive side of the list, but can’t. Yes, the end result of two at-bats were hits, but the process still stunk. His upper body was way ahead, his hips gone and front shoulder flown open, and his lower body was collapsing on his back leg in his effort to stay back. Additionally, his front leg was collapsing on contact, which is generally an indication of upper-cutting (think: Reggie Jackson). I suppose it’s good that he’s making contact, but I don’t see this as progress toward being the kind of hitter a first baseman needs to be. I’d much rather see him taking really good technical swings and missing, or popping up, or grounding out. He’s hitting similarly to Daniel Murphy right now, except worse.
Stunning to see a strike called on Domonic Brown after being hit by a pitch on a check swing. It’s extremely rare to see that called, and I’m pretty sure it was the wrong call. Unless the third-base umpire’s interpretation was that Brown didn’t make an effort to get out of the way of the pitch — in which case, it’s an even rarer call to see. It wasn’t a big deal because the Phillies were up by 7, but I still found it interesting. In all of my years playing (2500+ games), coaching (1000+) and watching (tens of thousands?) baseball, I’ve only seen that (no attempt to get out of the way) twice. It’s far more rare than a no-hitter or hitting for the cycle.
During the game, Keith Hernandez mentioned that an old Mets trainer used to soak towels in a concoction of “ammonia and water” to keep the players cool on excessively hot, humid days (the towels applied to the players’ necks). Parents, kids, and coaches — PLEASE be aware that what Keith is talking about is NOT the kind of ammonia used to clean the bathroom. Rather, it is “ammonia spirits” — a.k.a., “smelling salts” that are used. If you play in 95+ degree weather, I highly suggest you use this trick to keep your catcher and pitcher cool. If you’re not sure where to find spirits of ammonia, you can follow this link: Special pack of 5 AMMONIA AROMATIC SPIRIT HUMCO 2 oz. If you use that link to purchase, you will be supporting the server cost for MetsToday.
And while we’re on the subject of playing baseball in hot weather, players, please, stay away from the sports drinks — they’re mostly garbage and filled with sugar. Drink plenty of water, and if it’s really hot, squeeze a lemon, lime, or orange as well as a pinch of sea salt into your water — it’ll do more for your body than the crap in Gatorade, etc. High-intensity athletes (i.e., not baseball players) sweat out about 1000 mg of salt per hour, and one teaspoon of table salt equals about two and a half times that amount; do the math. Coconut water is also good; it’s expensive but still much better than a sports drink. Cooled herbal teas are great, especially if dosed with a teaspoon of raw honey or a packet of Emergen-C. Munch on watermelon, honeydew, cantaloupe, cucumbers, and similarly high-water-content fruits and vegetables to replenish and keep your edge. Bananas and potatoes (I used to boil them and eat them cold in between doubleheaders) are good for replenishing potassium and avoiding muscle cramps.
The Mets bullpen completed seven full innings after Hefner exited. I would imagine that Scott Rice, David Aardsma, and Greg Burke are all off-limits in Saturday’s game. Since the Mets’ AAA squad is on the left coast, I’m guessing that a callup from Las Vegas won’t happen. Would they bring up someone from Binghamton? Most likely, they’ll just “figure it out” in filling innings for the remainder of the weekend. Again, not a great way to start the second half.
During the postgame press conference, Terry Collins said, “… down 11-nothing, made it a game, pretty impressive by our guys.”
Wow. With that kind of spin / delusion, all I can say is, “heck yeah, extend Collins … make it a ten-year extension, in fact!”
Next Mets Game
About the Author
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.