Mets Game 10: Loss to Angels

Angels 5 Mets 4

The New York Mets lose an eleven-inning marathon to the Cucamonga Valley Angels.

Mets Game Notes

Only one thing worse than a late-starting game on the Left Coast — a late-starting game on the Left Coast that goes into extra innings.

Dillon Gee was missing high out of the strike zone, and living high in the zone, most of the night. Maybe that was a strategy? Based on where Travis d’Arnaud was setting his target/glove — which was almost always at or below the knees, I’m not so sure. Gee’s curve worked only occasionally, and most noticeably when he caught Mike Trout looking.

Gee threw a lot of balls, especially in the fifth frame, and I’m still trying to figure out how he wormed his way out of that mess without allowing a run.

Now, I know that in the game recap of Gee’s last start, I argued that he might’ve been able to continue beyond 100 pitches. On this particular night, my eyes were seeing a pitcher struggling mightily in the fifth, and, had I been the manager, would have been counting my blessings that Gee made it through five and replaced him with someone else to start the sixth. But that’s me, looking at a pitcher’s body language and lack of command, rather than pitch count.

Gee’s final line included 6 hits, 4 walks, and 4 earned runs in 5 2/3 innings, as well as 59 strikes out of 100 pitches. Those numbers are not very good.

Tyler Skaggs, for a 22-year-old, has enough stuff to compete at the MLB level, but not yet the polish to dominate. He threw far too many waist- and chest-high fastballs over the middle of plate — which would work well this week against the big-swinging Braves, but not against the Mets. His fastball tops out around 93 MPH, which is plenty if located well, but not enough velocity to blow by MLB hitters. He has plenty of time to develop; he reminds me a little bit of former California Angel Chuck Finley, though he doesn’t throw a forkball and throws many more curves; hopefully Skaggs can avoid Whitesnake groupies and stilettos.

Jeurys Familia threw almost exclusively fastballs in his relief stint, and was heating it up at 97 MPH consistently, topping out at 98 — assuming the gun result displayed on the TV feed was correct. He didn’t have command, but he did usually keep it in the strike zone. He had to throw all fastballs because he had no idea where the slider was going. In that way, Familia sort of reminds me of Jorge Julio.

I hate, hate, hate, HATE intentionally walking men to load the bases. To me it’s idiotic strategy that puts far too much pressure on a pitcher with good command — but to do it with a guy on the mound who has suspect command? Dumb. It’s not fair to give a pitcher absolutely no room for error with the winning run on third base.

Several of the Angels hitters stand far from the plate, and deep in the box, making them susceptible to breaking pitches outside. I wonder if that’s a team-wide philosophy that applies to something they normally encounter against AL pitchers, or something they consciously are doing against the Mets, or apropos of nothing?

It seems that Eric Young, Jr. will score every time he reaches base. But how many times will he reach base, is the question.

Travis d’Arnaud went yard for the first time in 2014 leading off the third. Nice blast on a chest-high fastball over the middle of the plate — he did what a MLB hitter is supposed to do with such a pitch. Expect to see him do that many times — he looks to me like a hitter who may not win a batting title, but who will not miss, and will take advantage of, mistakes he’s given.

I didn’t quite get the gushing by Gary Cohen and Ron Darling over the throw by Juan Lagares to third base in an attempt to put out Erick Aybar in the 8th inning. It was by no means an easy play, nor an easy throw, and Lagares did a great job of getting to the ball and getting rid of it quickly, but it wasn’t a “remarkable” throw. Lagares looked to be about 130-140 feet from third base when he released the ball, and the throw took two bounces — the first about 20-25 feet from the third base bag — to reach David Wright. To me, that was a throw that any MLB centerfielder could make. Understand, I am very much enjoying Lagares’ defense in center, and believe he’s been better than most other MLB center fielders since last June. At the same time, I can’t label every single thing he does as being superlative, in comparison to the other 29 best center fielders in the world. Sometimes, he does things that are expected of a big-league center fielder. (Granted, compared to an amateur, an average minor leaguer, or a Sunday softball beer leaguer, EVERYTHING he does is remarkable.)

The next time Aybar had a chance to go first-to-third on a single to center in the 10th, he held up at second. It was suggested by Gary and Ron that Aybar “learned a lesson” in seeing Lagares’ arm strength the first time. Not necessarily. The reason Aybar took a chance the first time was because Lagares’ momentum was going in the opposite direction of the throw. The reason Aybar held up the second time around may have been in part because of respect for Lagares’ arm strength, but mostly because Lagares was charging the ball hard and had his momentum going straight toward third base. Kids, you can learn from this — that’s “heady” baserunning.

Albert Pujols doesn’t look anything like the hitter he was while on PEDs in St. Louis. He’s a shell of his former self — he has no presence like he once did, and looks like he couldn’t give a s*&t. Amazing what age can do to a ballplayer in The Testing Era.

Interesting to see Kyle Farnsworth pitch around a 22-year-old to load the bases for Pujols, isn’t it? Of course, that 22-year-old was Trout, and Pujols is no longer Pujols.

Every single Met in the starting lineup had at least one hit — and, exactly one hit — by the seventh inning. The streak was broken when the official scorer very generously gave Daniel Murphy credit for a second hit on a ball that bounced off Howie Kendrick‘s glove. How many borderline error/hits did Murphy have credited as hits last year? About a dozen? Not that Murphy was the only recipient of the good graces of official scorers — it seems the trend will continue, much to the chagrin of pitchers who value their earned run average.

Speaking of Murphy, what the heck is he doing attempting a steal of third with two out in the eighth, tie game, Curtis Granderson at bat with a full count? With none or one out, MAYBE that makes sense. With two outs? Maybe someone else can explain the logic to me. I know the statheads have proclaimed Murphy to be one of the best baserunners in MLB, presumably based on the little league strategy of running like your hair’s on fire until someone tags you out, but, those were the same bean-counters who said Murphy was a good-fielding first baseman a few years back.

How did the Angels leave 17 runners on base? Gee whiz.

The Angels struck out 8 times and walked 10 times. The Mets struck out 9 times and walked zero times.

Lots of complaining — from both sides — for home plate umpire Manny Gonzalez. To me, Gonzalez did seem to be a bit inconsistent on low pitches, and I counted at least two 3-0 pitches that looked to be high ball fours, but were called strike one.

A Joe Smith sighting! I think that was the first time we’ve seen ol’ Joe face the Mets since he was one of the 37 players sent in different directions in the Jeremy Reed trade.

And, a Collin Cowgill sighting! Seems like only a year ago that Cowgill was mashing Opening Day grand slams. Oh, wait …

Next Mets Game

The Mets and Angels do it again at 9:05 PM RCT (Right Coast Time) on Saturday night. Jonathon Niese faces Jered Weaver.

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. argonbunnies April 12, 2014 at 4:24 am
    I think the impressive thing about Lagares’ throw to third vs Aybar was not the strength of the throw, but the accuracy and quick release, given where his momentum was going. Off the top of my head, I can’t think of another CF who makes that play (and Lagares did make it — if Wright handles the ball, Aybar’s out).

    A soon as Terry ordered the bases-loading IBB, I said, “Game over.” I expected Familia would walk in the winning run, but an HBP is close enough. Obviously stupid move given the guy on the mound. With a different pitcher, I would have liked it — given the Mets’ limited infielders, a force at home is their best option to prevent the winning run.

    I don’t think it’s reasonable to suggest that Pujols was juiced but has declined “in the testing era”. He was the best hitter in the game for the first 5 years of testing. Why would he stop in 2009 or 2010? It makes more sense to me to guess that either he’s always been clean, or he’s still dirty.

    I have a theory — different people have different aging curves. Some mature early, and peak early — look at Bryce Harper, an alcohol-avoiding Mormon who looked 25 at age 16. If Harper is still playing pro ball at age 38, I’ll be stunned. His peak years are probably soon to come, like most players who break in with a big splash at a young age, and I’d expect a guy who weighs 230 at 21 to be an “old 30” due to the wear and tear of hauling all that bulk around the field.

    Anyway, if you think about how Pujols looked in his age-21 rookie year, it’s reasonable to think that his 34 is most guys’ 37, and he’s currently deep into his natural decline phase. It’s sad to watch, but it doesn’t make me suspicious.

    It does make me wonder if the same thing will soon happen to Cabrera — the Tigers are complete idiots for buying high instead of waiting 12-18 months to see if that big body begins to break down.

    • DanB April 12, 2014 at 7:03 am
      My theory is Pujoils signs his last contract, securing his and his grand kid’s financial future, and decides he no longer has to abuse his body with PEDs. After all, what is the use of having that money if you will die young and in pain?
      • argonbunnies April 14, 2014 at 6:27 pm
        I have never heard that theory before. I mean, “take ‘roids to cash in” is old news, but “then stop for your health” is new to me. Interesting!

        It seems unlikely to me in Pujols’ case, given his sub-par performance in his walk year. The problems he’s had in Anaheim actually began in 2011, when his BB rate fell off a cliff. But ya never know…

  2. argonbunnies April 12, 2014 at 4:32 am
    As for Murph’s logic, I think he caught Smith napping on 3-2 and figured he’d make it standing up. Of course, what Murph figures does not always come to pass…
  3. Seymour April 12, 2014 at 5:35 am
    Joe, what do you think will become of Pujols?
  4. DaveSchneck April 12, 2014 at 9:18 am
    Argon,
    That is an interesting theory, I have pondered that myself. Does the kid with a full beard in the 8th grade ever live to be 90? There must be a study somewhere.

    Agreed on Collins’ IBB, with Familia on the mound, that move is flat out lousy. A likely loss anyway, but that move increased the odds of losing. 10BB for Met pitching, not good. Hopefully they get some sleep and play better.

    • argonbunnies April 14, 2014 at 6:42 pm
      I dunno about regular people and lifespans, but I have noticed a lot of exceptions to the “26-28 are prime years” baseball heuristic. Among the true greats, it’s VERY unusual to peak later than that, and fairly common to make a splash and peak early.

      Best season at age 26-28: Robin Yount, Jeff Bagwell, Barry Bonds, Mike Piazza, Todd Helton, George Brett, Carl Yastrzesmki, Ernie Banks, Norm Cash, Stan Musial, George Sisler, Rogers Hornsby, Babe Ruth (but in only his 3rd year as a hitter!) — the only kid prodigy on this list is Yount

      Best season at age 29+: Mark McGwire, Larry Walker, Cal Ripken, Frank Robinson, Joe Morgan

      Best season at age 21-24: Ty Cobb, Jimmie Foxx, Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio, Ted Williams, Eddie Matthews, Mickey Mantle, Johnny Bench, Ark Vaughan, John Olerud, David Wright — check out all the precocious wudnerkinds there; I bet Harper and Trout will be added to that list

      Willie Mays, Hank Aaron and Mel Ott also had seasons in this 21-24 range which were on par with their best seasons (those guys maintained a “peak” forever).