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?

Next Mets Game

On Monday the Mets move on to Atlanta to start a three-game series against the Braves. Game one begins at 7:10 PM; the pitching matchup will be Bartolo Colon vs. former Met Aaron Harang.

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. Follow Joe's baseball tips on Twitter at @onbaseball and at the On Baseball Google Plus page.
  1. Toni April 6, 2014 at 6:39 pm
    I wish the Wilpons would sell the team. If they can’t put a winning team on the field.,give the Met fans a chance to cheer. I really think all they care about is money. They didn’t even try this winter to put a winning team on the field.
    • Joe Janish April 6, 2014 at 7:02 pm
      May each of those statements echo loudly throughout Metsville.
  2. hiro April 6, 2014 at 8:06 pm
    Joe, how do rate TDA’s catching?
    • Joe Janish April 7, 2014 at 12:18 am
      I like d’Arnaud behind the dish. He’s athletic and mobile, with quick feet, a strong arm, gives a good target, and receives pitches fairly well. He could be even better as a receiver and at blocking balls in the dirt with slightly more efficient technique, but he looks, to me, above-average in all areas other than pitch-calling, which will come with experience.
  3. Wohjr April 6, 2014 at 8:22 pm
    Dap dude I always liked. Rollins, non merci. Papa grande, Kyle farnsworth… Where is Billy wags these days? Bring back the nasty oldsters!
  4. crozier April 6, 2014 at 11:43 pm
    Not a bad series; I’d take a bunch more like it. Starting pitching was good, defense didn’t embarrass itself, some power here and there, relief was mostly stellar. The bats will warm up, and I still think the team will score more runs than last year. And this game was close; it’s all I can ask for at this point. I guess.
    • Joe Janish April 7, 2014 at 12:15 am
      Color me the cynic, but I think the Mets were lucky to face the Reds at just the right time — they were missing their starting catcher, center fielder, closer, ace, two setup men, and Joey Votto is in a rare state of confusion.

      Though, in fairness, I guess you could say that the Mets were without Bobby Parnell and Chris Young, right?

      • crozier April 7, 2014 at 9:20 am
        In fairness, what I said is a fair statement, regardless of the result or what team they were playing under whatever conditions. Three games that held my attention and didn’t make me walk away in disgust.

        I acknowledge that’s a pretty low bar, but good games anyway.

  5. DanB April 7, 2014 at 8:06 am
    I am confused, who is the Met’s starting first basemen?
  6. DaveSchneck April 7, 2014 at 11:01 am
    The bats were absolutely anemic yesterday. I know this happens, but this was incredibly mediocre starting pitching and a 3rd string closer. The 3-4-5 went down in the 9th with 2 Ks and a dribbler. It wasn’t Mariano out there, it wasn’t Chapman. DW looked tired yesterday with 2 huge whiffs in big spots, and the team now has a record 61 whiffs in the first 6 games, even worse than the 40-120 1962 squad. So, 2/3 vs. this Cincy team was the miminal and to come off that Sat. win with a lame offensive effort on Sunday is disappointing.
  7. argonbunnies April 7, 2014 at 6:16 pm
    An adjustment to Simon would have been nice. He showed good stuff, but wasn’t exactly hitting the glove. Lay off a few more of those borderline pitches and make him work a bit! Coming over from the bullpen, this should have been a 6-inning outing tops; hopefully 5. But the Mets were hacking at pitches they couldn’t center, and let him cruise.

    I guess you can’t fault Teufel for holding Niese at 3rd with one out and the Mets’ best contact hitter coming up (followed by the Mets’ best hitter period), but man, Jon was almost at 3rd when Heisey picked up the ball on the warning track. No WAY the Reds throw Niese out there — they probably just throw to 3rd to keep Young from advancing. I guess there’s always extra caution with a pitcher running, you don’t want a play at the plate, but Niese is a good athlete and the Mets really can’t afford to play scared.

  8. argonbunnies April 7, 2014 at 6:18 pm
    This is the sort of game I predicted the Mets would win if they homer, and lose if they don’t. When d’Arnaud crushed one but it didn’t get out, that was the ballgame.