Mets Game 18: Win Over Braves
Mets 4 Braves 3
Mets outlast Braves in a 14-inning snoozefest.
Mets Game Notes
Curtis Granderson had the “walk-off” sacrifice fly to end the ballgame. It’s been over 15 years of that term, but I still can’t get used to “walk-off” as an adjective for every type of offensive play that wins a ballgame. In any case, I’m personally happy for Granderson, as I like him very much and want him to do well. At the same time, Mets fans can’t get too excited about this “breakthrough,” for several reasons. First off, the Mets would not have been playing 14 frames had Granderson come through in one of several previous at-bats. Secondly, he was facing the Braves’ worst pitcher, who was pitching in an unprecedented fourth inning of work. Grandy’s fly ball was hit on Gus Schlosser‘s 46th pitch of the afternoon; Schlosser’s previous high pitch count was 25. I mean, yeah, thank goodness Granderson lifted that fly ball, to finally see him do something positive and so that everyone could tear into their Easter ham, but I can’t mark it as any indication of future success for Grandy. Granderson went 0-for-6 and is now hitting .127.
On a positive note: in addition to the final fly, Granderson also lifted a long fly in the first inning that advanced Eric Young, Jr. from second to third; Young scored moments later. So, Grandy DID hit two effective fly balls.
Speaking of Eric Young, Jr., he reached base once and scored once, and proceeded to go 0-for-6 the rest of the way. Yes, he did strike out once to keep his streak going, and is leading the Mets in Ks. He does currently have a .343 OBP, though.
Until that 14th inning, it seemed as though the Braves were trying to give the Mets the game, but the Mets weren’t interested in taking it. Thanks to several Braves errors and walks to the bottom of the Mets’ lineup, the Mets had a few situations in which to break the game open — but couldn’t get the “big hit.” Mets hitters were 0-for-10 with runners in scoring position.
Speaking of errors, Dan Uggla made two. I’ve always been a huge fan of the hard-playing Uggla, but if he doesn’t turn around quickly, I can’t see how the Braves can continue to run him out there — he’s providing absolutely nothing on either side of the ball — especially with Closter, NJ native Tommy LaStella tearing it up in AAA with a .390 OBP. If Uggla continues to struggle, and LaStella stays hot, the Braves have to consider bringing up the lefthanded-hitting LaStella to at least platoon with Uggla (Uggla’s hitting .300 with a .900 OPS vs. LHPs in a small sample size this year; strangely enough, his career splits are better against RHPs — maybe because he’s one of those rare breaking-ball hitters?).
Actually, I wonder if the Braves will bid on Georgia-born Stephen Drew after the June draft, and make him their starting second baseman? It wouldn’t surprise me in the least.
Zack Wheeler shut out the Braves through the first four frames, then allowed three runs in the fifth. He hit 95 MPH on pitches 60 and 61, but lost his command as he walked Gerald Laird leading off the inning. Wheeler threw almost exclusively off-speed pitches between that walk and the 93-MPH fastball on pitch #73 that B.J. Upton hit to the wall for a run-scoring double. Pitch #74 was a 94-MPH fastball that Freddie Freeman bounced over the wall for a ground-rule double; both pitches were over the middle of the plate. According to BrooksBaseball.net, Wheeler threw 55 fastballs, 4 change-ups, 21 sliders, and 10 curveballs. I’m not sure how accurate those counts are — it seemed to me that he threw far more curves and change-ups — so I’m going to go with the idea that 35 of his 90 pitches were non-fastballs. What does it all mean? No idea. What I can say for sure is that Wheeler’s command — of all pitches — definitely needs to improve. It looked to me that he began to fatigue on the fastball at pitch #80, when he threw a 93-MPH fastball up and in to Uggla (which Ron Darling suspected was a purpose pitch, but I believe was a mistake and due to his arm falling even further behind than it usually does).
The Mets struck out 11 times, but the Braves beat them by whiffing 14 times. As a team, the Mets have 177 strikeouts, or 9.8 per game. Last year, the Mets and Braves tied for the most Ks in the NL, with 1384 each — that’s 8.5 per game. For what it’s worth, the Braves now have 164 Ks on the year, so they’re catching up.
Innings 9 through 13 were particularly painful to watch, as the batters had extreme difficulty seeing the ball through the late afternoon shadows. For at least two innings, the SNY broadcast team spoke excitedly about Daisuke Matsuzaka‘s effectiveness in relief — while simultaneously blaming the shadows for the Mets’ hitters ineffectiveness over the same frame — until finally acknowledging, in the 13th, that both sides were affected.
Dice-K, by the way, threw 44 pitches — after throwing 18 on Saturday night. The Mets better hope that Jenrry Mejia has no more blister issues on Monday. Who is the back-up if the blister does flare up? I’m guessing Jeurys Familia, who wasn’t used in this game and hasn’t pitched since a 17-pitch inning on Friday night.
Next Mets Game
The Mets open a four-game series in Flushing against the St. Louis Cardinals. Game one begins at 7:10 PM on Monday night, with Jenrry Mejia going to the mound against lefty Tyler Lyons, who will be making his first MLB start of 2014. Lyons is starting in place of Joe Kelly, who suffered a hamstring injury. Lyons started 8 games for St. Louis in 2013 and was 2-0 in 3 starts for AAA Memphis this year.