Mets Game 2: Loss to Nationals
Nationals 5 Mets 1
Again, walk away from the ledge, Mets fans — it’s only two games. There is still plenty of time to win 90 games.
Mets Game Notes
Can’t fault Bartolo Colon for this one — after all, he did produce a “quality start”: 6 IP, 3 ER. I’m sure many pundits have predicted that Colon would continue his dominance due to his move to the NL, since it’s generally accepted that the NL has weaker hitters (as well as the pitcher hitting). What also must be considered, of course, is that the weaker hitting works both ways — Colon, this year, doesn’t have the Oakland Athletics offense supporting him. Last year, the A’s averaged 4.74 runs per game to the Mets’ 3.82. And in fact, the A’s did nearly a full run over that for Colon, providing him an average of 5.52 runs every time he started. So while Colon may continue to post a stingy WHIP and ERA, is it going to matter when it comes to wins and losses? I know, I know — wins are overrated. But this year, the Mets want to win 90 games, so, when that’s put into the equation, well …
Hey, the Mets set a new MLB record! By striking out 13 times in this game, and combining that with the 18 on March 31, the sum total of 31 strikeouts is the most in the first two games of a season in MLB history — shattering the record of 28 set by the Houston Astros last year. Nicely done!
Oh, and they set that record without Ike Davis in the lineup, and without whiffmaster Chris Young contributing to the total — Young left the game after the first frame due to the same quadriceps issue that kept him out of Opening Day. The chilly weather cannot be helping his situation.
On the bright side, Juan Lagares remains red-hot; he collected two of the Mets’ three hits on the evening — a double and a triple — as well as scoring their only run.
Ruben Tejada had the Mets’ other hit, and had a shot at scoring their second run, but was gunned down at the plate in a bizarre session of patty-cakes played with Nationals catcher Jose Lobaton. In the postgame, manager Terry Collins explained that Tejada was confused, due to the “new rule” surrounding potential collisions at home plate. Oh boy. I could go off on Tejada here, but I won’t, because of all the brouhaha / nonsense of the “new rule” and how it was “taught” during the spring. No, Tejada doesn’t get the blame — MLB, the Mets, and every other team that paid too much attention to the new language are at fault for confusing the players and making them think, rather than react, as they approach home plate.
The rule was reinterpreted, but has not changed one bit. The runner has the right to home plate, regardless of whether the catcher has the ball. The runner is required to run in the basepath, and on a straight line to home plate. So here’s the way to “teach” the “new” rule to runners: run straight to home plate, just as you always did. If the catcher is in your way, plow him. Again, NOTHING HAS CHANGED. The only thing that has changed, is that if a runner GOES OUT OF HIS WAY TO INITIATE CONTACT, he could be ejected from the game. Going out of one’s way means deviating from a straight line to the plate. MLB has only made a perfectly simple rule more complicated, and MLB teams have done a duly horrendous job of teaching it. No one should have been “taught” anything. Maybe a reminder, like, “hey, guys, you know how you’re not allowed to run out of the baseline to destroy a first baseman, or a middle infielder? Yeah, well, you can’t do that to the catcher, either — if you do something other than run straight to home plate, you could get ejected.” Simple. What’s the confusion here? Am I that smart, or am I missing something?
Also in the postgame, Collins responded to questions about Curtis Granderson‘s tough start by explaining that changing leagues can be very difficult, and it usually takes some time to adjust to pitchers who a hitter has never seen before. I agree 100%, and suggested as much back in December. And certainly, Grandy only had 3 previous at-bats against Stephen Strasburg prior to 2014, and I doubt he had more than one (if any?) against the Nats relievers. But, that excuse doesn’t fly when it comes to Gio Gonzalez, who pitched four years in the Adulterated League and faced Granderson 17 times previously. Oops.
But hold on — I’m not suggesting that Curtis Granderson will continue to struggle for the rest of the year. I DO think he’ll have an adjustment period through the first month or so, and eventually start hitting. Here’s the thing, though: is it any more reasonable to believe that Granderson is this bad, as it is to believe that Lagares is this good? As much as I’d like to see both players do well, my feeling is that we’ll eventually see regression to the mean in Lagares’ case, and progression to the mean in Granderson’s. I don’t think it’s fair to expect Lagares to remain a dynamic, power-hitting leadoff man AND expect Granderson to figure things out and hit 40+ homers.
Speaking of Granderson and homeruns, had his first two games been in Yankee Stadium, he MIGHT have at least two taters already. Just sayin’.
Oh, and speaking of homeruns, Gio Gonzalez blasted a solo homer to help his own cause. Did you cringe, like I did, seeing Gonzalez sprint full speed around the bases, wondering if he would pull a hammy for no reason? Great hustle, love to see it, but if I were Matt Williams I’d be popping Rolaids. Quite a contrast between Gonzalez’s hustle on a homerun vs. Colon’s casual waddle up the first base line on a groundout, eh?
Did anyone else notice that GKR seemed resigned by the 6th or 7th inning? Their attitude and tone reminded me of the late 1970s, when Lindsay Nelson, Bob Murphy, and Ralph Kiner had that kind of “well we know the Mets are going to lose, but we’ll make the most of the time” sound to their voices. Even the ever-enthusiastic, ultra-positive Gary Cohen was talking — in the 8th inning — about Zack Wheeler having the “extra juice” of preventing a three-game opening sweep at home. Could it be that Gary, Keith, and Ron are just as dissatisfied as the Mets fan base, so early in the season?
Not sure if Ryan Zimmerman still has pain in his shoulder, or if he’s dealing with a case of Steve Sax / Mackey Sasser disease, but he’s a disaster making throws, and it’s very, very sad to see, considering what a magnificent fielder he was prior to his arm issues.
Is “Matt Williams” going to be the answer to every SNY trivia question during this series?
Next Mets Game
The Mets look to avoid a sweep at home beginning at 1:10 PM on Thursday afternoon (so set the DVR, if you work a 9-5 job). Zack Wheeler goes to the hill against Jordan Zimmerman.