Mets Game 6: Loss to Reds
Reds 2 Mets 1
Mets and Reds lock up in a pitchers’ duel on a lazy Sunday afternoon. The day reminded me of my youth; it could’ve easily been 1977, with Jerry Koosman going pitch-for-pitch against Jack Billingham, waiting for John Milner or Dave Kingman to run into one after a Felix Millan walk. Instead, the Mets would only score once, wasting another great Kooz effort, while Pedro Borbon finished up for a two-inning save.
Mets Game Notes
Jonathon Niese pitched as well as could be expected, considering that he didn’t have the chance to properly build up his pitch count, hadn’t thrown in a MLB game since last September. Niese was an out away from finishing six innings and allowed only two runs. Personally, I didn’t expect him to be strong enough go beyond the fifth. But he did have a low pitch count before starting the sixth.
Unfortunately for Niese, Reds spot starter Alfredo Simon also cruised through the first five innings. Both hurlers worked quickly and efficiently with low pitch counts — around a dozen pitches an inning through the first five frames, which is excellent.
Then in the sixth, everything changed for Niese, while Simon continued to roll.
Niese struggled from his first batter of the sixth; ironically, it began by allowing a single to Simon. Had the Reds accomplished what their manager asked them to do — which was bunt — Niese very well may have made it through the sixth, and without allowing a run.
Why was Chris Heisey asked to sacrifice bunt in the 6th inning with none out and Simon, the pitcher, on first base? Niese was rolling up to that point, but it wasn’t as though he was channeling Sandy Koufax. Sometimes a manager tries too hard. As it turned out, Heisey fouled off the bunt attempt and was allowed to swing afterward and hit a single.
Even more mind-blogging was that Reds manager Bryan Price had Brandon Phillips sacrificing in the next at-bat, with runners on first and second and none out. Was Price trying to completely confuse everyone and set up the Mets by showing bunt? Or did he really think it was a good idea? Again, as it turned out, Phillips went to two strikes and singled up the middle to load the bases, but it didn’t make sense to take the bat out of his hands for two strikes.
I half-expected to see Joey Votto follow with a squeeze.
Speaking of Votto, Ron Darling mentioned that Votto didn’t look himself, and I agree — his body language is awful, it exudes lack of confidence and confusion. I’ve been a huge Votto fan since his rookie year, and have been watching plenty of Reds games over the past few years, and while I’ve seen Votto out of sorts, not to this extent, and not lacking confidence. He’s thinking too much, I believe — it’s as if you can see the wheels in his mind turning. He needs to just “grip it and rip it” for a few days. I wonder if he’s reacting to the constant noise about him taking too many pitches?
How in the world did Alfredo Simon get out of that Mets rally in the bottom of the third inning? Simon made the ultimate sin of walking the opposing pitcher, then allowed a double to Eric Young, Jr., then somehow found a way to strike out both Daniel Murphy and David Wright. I mean, I SAW how Simon got out of it, but it was like my eyes were playing tricks on me. I thought for sure that Murphy would poke one of his classic two-out, man-on-third bloops into short left field, and at minimum, Simon would pitch around Wright and load the bases for Curtis Granderson. In fact I was surprised to see Simon go right after Wright with cutters that got plenty of plate and were only 89-90 MPH. Maybe Wright swung and missed because was shocked he was being pitched to in that situation — this is new for him to have protection behind him, after all.
Mets batters struck out 8 times, saw only 103 pitches, and collected four hits and one walk.
Travis d’Arnaud nearly had his first hit of the year, a big fly that was knocked down by the wind and landed in Ryan Ludwick‘s glove on the warning track in left field. No need to worry about d’Arnaud, he’ll run into one soon, and he’ll get his hits. He seems to have a decent idea of the strike zone, he knows what pitches he can handle, and he has pretty good balance throughout his swing. Hitting lower in the lineup, he’ll get pitches he can hit, and he’ll hit. He’s unlikely to win a batting crown, but he’ll be fine. I’m seeing the raw tools of at least a .270 hitter, and someone who can go on a decent power streak.
On the other hand, I wonder how long Terry Collins will continue with Eric Young, Jr. at the top of the lineup? He has drawn the same number of walks as Jonathon Niese has so far this year, and is hitting .105. I’m not suggesting he be benched, but at least, move him down for a few games while he figures things out. Juan Lagares‘ OBP is still above .400, put him at the top for a while.
What I think would make Flushing fun this summer: Mets making trades for Brandon Phillips and Jimmy Rollins. It’s not completely unrealistic, considering that both players have been rumored to be on the block over the past six months. It won’t happen, of course, but watching those two hot dogs — who can back it up — hot-doggin’ together up the middle and at the top of the lineup would make for great entertainment. Do you agree?