Mets Game 5: Win Over Reds
Mets 6 Reds 3
Well, now who is going to play first base?
Mets Game Notes
Strike while the iron is hot, Mr. Alderson, and trade one RIGHT NOW, before the gaping holes in their swings are exposed yet again.
Ike Davis’ walk-off grand slam was dramatic, yes. Exhilarating, in fact — for Davis, for his teammates, for Mets fans. And for Gary Cohen, of course. It was also a typical homerun for him — he was fooled on the pitch, way out in front, all his weight on his front foot, and he made contact at exactly the right time to hit the ball an extreme distance. It’s a method of hitting homeruns that was advocated by Charley Lau — though, he taught hitters such as Harold Baines and George Brett how to do it on purpose. With Davis, he hits mistakes, by mistake. Can he do it enough times to be valuable over the course of a season? Maybe. He did it often enough to swat 32 homers in 2012. Can he do it enough to overshadow other weaknesses in his game? We’ll see. For certain, he’s done it enough times this year to be worth it — it’s resulted in a win already, after all.
Naturally, I expect many of you to get on me for “being negative.” It’s OK, because I know you sometimes forget that this isn’t necessarily a “fan blog.” Rather, I’m a fan of the game, and I watch and comment without bias one way or the other — it’s more about the process than the results. And what I saw from Davis’ granny is the same I’ve seen from him for the past two-plus years: someone who hits mistakes by mistake. The scouting report on him is to throw hard stuff up, hard stuff in, or hard stuff out. Bounce an off-speed pitch outside once in a while to keep him honest. That’s why Davis has struggled to hit much over .200 — because the scouting report on him states that he has a long, complicated swing, and sometimes runs into mistakes.
Duda has a similar scouting report, except he tends to have more bat control / body control. He hits mistakes on purpose, with good, solid, balanced swings. But like Davis, he has holes. On this particular afternoon, Johnny Cueto was successful in getting swings and misses from Duda by keeping the fastball above the belt and middle-out. In contrast, the two homeruns Duda hit in game 4 against Mike Leake came on knee-high fastballs middle-in.
Cueto pitched well in his 7 innings of work, but did, however, make one mistake — a thigh-high, hanging cutter over the middle of the plate that Curtis Granderson transformed into his first homerun of the season. Granderson is another “mistake hitter,” though much more advanced than Duda. Duda is still learning to recognize and take advantage of mistakes, whereas Granderson seems to be looking and waiting for a mistake on every pitch. I’m not sure Duda can get away with that kind of approach; I think part of the reason Granderson can do that as his modus operandi is in part because he is an outstanding athlete.
Tough game for Dillon Gee, who more or less matched Cueto pitch for pitch, hurled another “quality start,” yet wound up with a no-decision. Much was made of his poor performance after 100 pitches. Well gee whiz, the stats were similar after 100 pitches for Pedro Martinez, and that’s part of the reason for this nonsensical 100-pitch standard in baseball. Of course Gee’s numbers are going to look bad after 100 pitches — they’re going to look worse for most starting pitchers in the game, because that many pitches means the hitters have seen you several times and are familiar with what you have on a given day. The question is, however, will the numbers be worse for a starter at pitch 105, or for the 11th-worst pitcher on your staff at pitch 1? If I’m the manager, and one of my best three pitchers is on the mound, and he isn’t showing me any sign of fatigue, I prefer to have him continue than replace him with a middle reliever who is likely my 9th- or 10th-best option. But that’s me — I want my opponent beating the best that I have available, rather than offering one of my worst.
Further, I think the numbers after 100 pitches are skewed because pitchers rarely go far beyond that count. Maybe my math is wrong, so stay with me and correct me if necessary. If Gee regularly throws between 100 and 110 pitches, then there are far less plate appearances in those 1-10 pitches above 100 than there are up to 100, right? Last year, Gee went above 100 pitches 11 times, with his highest total 109. How many plate appearances were there in those “extra” 9 pitches? Maybe two, on average? And how many times, once he went above 100, was he pulled from the game immediately after giving up a hit? I bet it was fairly often; we’d have to go back to every game Gee started and see. What if, instead of being pulled, Gee stayed in some of those games (assuming he was showing no sign of fatigue) and threw 120-130 pitches? Would the opposing batting average go down? Hard to say, because it doesn’t happen very often these days. Managers see that “100” and they either remove their starter or hit the snooze, ready with the hook at the first sign of trouble — which is almost always a hit or a walk.
Rookie umpire Johnny Tumpane seems intent on making himself known. Working Friday night’s game behind the plate, Tumpane called a significant number of borderline low pitches as strikes for Jenrry Mejia (though not for Leake). As the third-base umpire in this game, Tumpane made a dramatic punch-out of Duda when asked for help on a checked-swing. I’m not so sure Duda swung — it could’ve gone either way — but I was taken aback by Tumpane’s animated response. On the one hand, I like to see color in the game, and miss colorful umpires like Ron Luciano. On the other hand, Tumpane seems like he might be trying too hard — or maybe, he’s just overly excited in his first week as a big leaguer. Either way, he’s already making a few non-friends.
Speaking of balls and strikes, John Hirshbeck was giving plenty of low and inside strikes to both Dillon Gee and Johnny Cueto. I like seeing more strikes called, and don’t mind if the strike zone gets expanded by an inch or two — it will speed up the game.
Oh and while on the subject of umpiring, we must make note of the first overturn of a call via instant replay in a Mets game (at least, I think it was the first?). I’m very curious to know what the umpires in the review booth have access to in terms of camera angles (supposedly, “up to 12”), because if they can only see what we can see at home, then I’m very surprised they overturned second base umpire James Hoye’s call in the ninth inning. There’s absolutely no doubt that it looked like Juan Lagares beat the throw to the bag — I’m not arguing that. However, from the angles we saw on SNY, to me it was inconclusive as to whether Lagares’ left foot first landed on the second base bag or Zack Cozart‘s foot. I, personally, didn’t see “clear and convincing evidence” that Lagares was safe. I don’t know how Ron Darling could’ve been so adamant about Lagares’ foot being on the base from the same video we saw — the only person who was close enough to make the call was the guy who originally made the call — Moye, who was right on top of the play, in perfect position, at the perfect angle, less than ten feet from the bag. MAYBE there was a TV camera that had as good an angle as Moye, and for whatever reason, that camera wasn’t available to the viewing audience (though that would be strange, wouldn’t it, particularly if such an angle proved Lagares were safe?). I don’t think the overturn made that much of a difference in the outcome of the game — most likely, J.J. Hoover still would’ve thrown a hanging curveball to Ike Davis. What bothers me is the possibility that plays are overturned based on camera angles that are no better than that of the umpire’s. “Clear and convincing evidence” should be just that, and should not necessarily assume that the cameras can see better than the man on the field.
Chris Heisey is not a spectacular player, but he’s what coaches like to call a “head’s up” ballplayer. In his pinch-hit, hustling double in the 8th, he did everything right. First, he took strike one as the leadoff batter, down one, late in the game. Second, with two strikes, he took a defensive swing at a borderline strike, didn’t try to do too much with the pitch, and poked it into right field for hit. Third, he hustled out of the box, took a perfect cut around first base, made an excellent read on the ball and Granderson’s ability to get to it, and made an aggressive, but smart, decision to go for two. Finally, he made a perfect pop-up slide directly into second base. Plenty to be learned by a young ballplayer by watching that few seconds of baseball.
Moments later, Heisey was sacrificed to third on a bunt by Roger Bernadina. Another nice lesson there: Mets left fielder Eric Young, Jr. hustling in to cover third base, preventing Heisey from straying too far from the bag, and/or, providing the possibility of putting Heisey out if he did stray too far. This is something I constantly preach as a coach: everyone on the field should be moving, all the time, to be part of the play. Just because the ball isn’t being handled by you, doesn’t mean there isn’t something you can do. A player should never be standing still while a play is happening — there is always somewhere you can be going, something you can be doing, even if it’s as seemingly miniscule as backing up a base, backing up a play, covering a base, moving a bat out of the way, or providing verbal help to a teammate.
Next Mets Game
After getting swept in the first series of the season, the Mets look for their first series sweep on Sunday afternoon. Game time is 1:10 PM and pits Jonathon Niese vs. Alfredo Simon. Who will start at 1B for the Mets?