Mets Game 113: Loss to Diamondbacks
Diamondbacks 5 Mets 4
Another one-run ballgame, but this time, the Mets are on the wrong side.
Mets Game Notes
Again, Jeremy Hefner gets rocked — as he has in every start since the All-Star break. I’m honestly not sure what has changed; Hefner’s uptick in velocity has been maintained, and he continues to induce ground balls, but his walk rate has risen and he’s gotten few swings and misses. His command was poor — most of his strikes were in the middle, instead of at the edges, of the plate. Was he living on the edges during his brilliant starts? I’m not sure; the most glaring difference I noticed in his good starts was the higher velocity. Is it possible that he’s always been in the middle of the plate — as he was in 2012 — and his success was a matter of hitters not expecting those extra few MPH from him, and now they’ve adjusted? Or has Hefner’s command been better on certain days due to some kind of mechanical element, such as finger release? Or was he throwing inside more often, making hitters just a hint more cautious, thus preventing them from jumping on pitches over the middle of the plate? In other words, was Hefner making hitters uncomfortable? Does he need to play some Junior Senior?
While it could be argued that Hefner threw four strong frames before falling apart, the truth is, he was getting crushed by the Snakes during those early innings — he was merely lucky to have hard-hit balls find fielders. It’s surprising he gave up only four runs. All night AZ hitters were clobbering his pitches — fastball, curve, and change-up. He mostly kept the slider out of the strike zone and induced swings and misses with it.
Patrick Corbin was impressive, but I don’t like his over-rotation during the leg lift. It often causes him to fly open a bit too early, which he can sometimes get away with when throwing a fastball, but completely obliterates the effective movement of his breaking pitches.
Leading off the second inning, Marlon Byrd was thrown out at home attempting to stretch a triple into an inside-the-park homerun. Keith Hernandez was adamant that sending Byrd home was “the right move,” but I’m not so sure. Yes, the Mets lineup is putrid, especially without David Wright. But, with none out, you really have to be absolutely, positively sure that the batter-runner is going to score. As far as I’m concerned, the sin of making the first or third out at third base can be extended to include home plate in regard to the first out of an inning. With none out, there are too many ways to score from third — without a hit — to be worth the gamble. Also — for what’s it’s worth — Byrd might have scored standing had he been “busting it” from the get-go. Wait, what? Yes — the man who has been praised ad nauseam for his hustle, hard work, and leadership — didn’t bust it out of the box. I wouldn’t go so far as to say he was “Cadillacking” or taking it easy, but Byrd certainly was not running full speed from home to first. He turned it on after rounding first and smelling a triple, but the less-than-full-speed effort in those first fifteen steps was the difference between a homerun and an out. I don’t necessarily blame him — who, ever, is prepared for the possibility of an inside-the-parker? Just sayin’.
While SNY re-ran that extremely close play at home about a half-dozen times, they didn’t closely examine the similarly close double play that ended the first frame. I watched it several times via the DVR slo-mo feature, and can’t tell for certain whether or not the umps made the correct call. It appeared as though the batter-runner touched first base slightly before, or exactly as, Josh Satin caught the ball. Of course, double plays aren’t nearly as dramatic as inside-the-park homeruns, and there wasn’t any chance that a run would have scored if the out at first wasn’t made. BUT, each team gets 27 outs, so it could be argued that wherever an out is made is irrelevant — an out is an out is an out — and therefore all should be examined closely. If Hefner doesn’t get the DP there, who knows what happens, especially considering the way the Snakes were hitting him? Little things.
Speaking of little things, Juan Lagares ended the seventh inning trying to stretch a double into a triple. Making the third out at third base is almost always a bad idea. Ironically, someone pointed out an ESPN piece on the Mets’ supposed superior baserunning — which is something we’ll discuss next week. Between Lagares’ and Byrd’s sins of stretching, and a few other stumbles on the basepaths, I have to truly question whether always running like your hair’s on fire is truly “smart.”
Keith Hernandez commented on Paul Goldschmidt‘s unusual hand setup in his stance — Goldschmidt holds his bat with the knob pointing up in the air, and the barrel pointing to the ground, while he awaits the pitcher’s move. I’ve seen one or two other current MLB hitters set up similarly, and back in the day, I remember Fred Patek holding his bat that way. Why would a batter do that? First, it doesn’t really matter where one holds the bat while waiting for the pitcher to start his windup — all that matters is that the hands get into the proper “launch” position at the right time. So whatever one needs to do to get at that spot in time is what one needs to do. My best guess is that Goldschmidt — at some point in his life — either wrapped the bat behind his head or had a pronounced hitch, and by putting his hands and the bat in that strange position, it forced him to get his hands directly to the launch position. Everyone is different.