Mets Game 22: Win Over Cardinals
Mets 4 Cardinals 1
Mets go two games over .500 for the first time in over a year (April 16, 2013, to be exact), and take three of four from the 2013 NL Champion St. Louis Cardinals. Does this mean the Mets are poised to be the 2014 NL Champions?
Mets Game Notes
Well, stranger things have happened. The 1969 Mets, for example. Let’s try not to get ahead of ourselves just yet, and enjoy the moment. It’s been over a year, after all, since the Mets have been this many games above that magic .500 mark.
Bartolo Colon was brilliant, Lance Lynn less so, in a classic pitching duel that recalled the 1970s / 1980s. I agree with Keith Hernandez — I prefer these games. For me, it’s well-pitched, close ballgames that bring out the best in baseball, because there is less room for error, and every single play — in other words, execution is key. Homerun derby is fun for the casual fan, but, for me, what makes baseball most interesting is the process and the details.
Colon struck out in the third after sending a bunt attempt into foul ground. I get that his value is in throwing strikes and getting outs, but it still irks me that he treats every at-bat as a joke, is an automatic out, and his bunt attempts could be better executed by an average Sunday softballer (man or woman — who am I to be sexist?). Despite his ever-expanding girth, Colon is a very good athlete — there’s no excuse for his inability to bunt. Starting pitchers don’t exactly have full schedules on their off-days, and it’s pretty clear that Colon isn’t spending his extra time in the gym or running sprints, so how about getting into the cage and at least TRYING to become an adequate bunter? When bunting, he holds the bat similarly to how I’ve seen housewives hold a fish they’ve just caught on a party boat (NOW I’m being sexist). It’s an embarrassment to be paid eight figures a year, work for about two hours once every five days, and not be able to adequately execute one of the most basic aspects of your job. Yes, he spent most of his career in the Adulterated League, but now he’s in a league that plays baseball, so learn the new skills. At the company where I work, we just put iPads and new software into the hands of a few salespeople who are beyond retirement age — and you know what? They’ve learned to zip around on those things so well, they can teach others how to use it.
On the other hand, it was enjoyable to watch the crafty Colon work his fastball in all four quadrants of the strike zone, changing speeds with it, using the wind to his advantage, and keeping the Cards off-balance for most of the afternoon.
Considering the extreme wind, I was surprised to see Chris Young blast one into the left-field upper deck. Keith Hernandez was very impressed with Young’s level swing on the chest-high fastball, but truly, there’s nothing impressive about swinging level on a high pitch — it’s the easiest way to hit a high pitch, because the batter’s hands and arms are located at the same level as the pitch. Now, when a batter can keep a level swing on a low pitch — that’s impressive.
Still, a prodigious blast by Young. David Wright seemed to have hit a no-doubter to the left in the initial inning, but a wind gust seemed to have knocked it down — the ball appeared to have hit a wall somewhere up in the air and it fell short of the warning track.
Mets batters took quite a few called strikes, including called strike threes. As we’ve discussed here before, the Mets seem unable to decipher the strike zone, and/or refuse to adjust to the umpire’s strike zone on a particular day. In this case, the umpire’s close strike calls were most definitely strikes when reviewed on slow-motion replays from various angles — and even Gary and Keith agreed with the ump on just about all of them. Yes, it was a big zone, but it was consistent and went both ways. What’s aggravating to me is that nearly every Mets hitter has kept the spirit of Ike Davis going by obnoxiously disagreeing with nearly every called strike via openly questioning the umpire and/or some annoyed gesture (bat twirling, bat tossing, head shaking, etc.). I’m starting to wonder if hitting coach Dave Hudgens has advised his hitters to disagree with home plate umpires and try to embarrass them, because it’s become an epidemic. When the umpire calls a strike, he’s not changing his call, and arguing with him or reacting negatively is only going to motivate some umpires to call all close strikes against you.
Did Daniel Murphy really get credited for a double and RBI on the blooper to shallow center that bounced past a diving Jon Jay in the sixth? How does that work? Credit for a single, yes. But when the center fielder allows a routine Texas Leaguer to skip past him, that’s not an error? The older I get, the less I understand official scoring.
Even more unbelievably, Curtis Granderson was awarded with a single on a routine grounder that was misplayed by defensive replacement Mark Ellis in the seventh. Seriously? Hey, I know Grandy needed a hit more than anybody, but if I’m the opposing pitcher, I’m not pleased with these homer decisions. That play is supposed to be made by a MLB second baseman. It should be made by a high school second baseman.
Strange to see the St. Louis battery working the outside part of the plate to Lucas Duda with the Boudreau shift on in the 6th inning — seems counter-intuitive. Ironically, Lance Lynn froze Duda with an inside change-up for strike three, which had to be a mistake in location.
The eighth-inning shift on Duda was just silly — though, it worked (that time). St. Louis had four infielders to the right of second base. Crazy.
Matt Adams‘ defense at first base led to at least two, if not three Mets runs. Better footwork could have prevented a Lance Lynn throwing error, and his decision to cut off a throw from the outfield (I can’t believe the catcher told him to cut it) allowed Anthony Recker to score in the 7th.
Mets struck out 10 times in this game, and 14 times in game 3, so they’re now at 213 in 22 games — or, 9.7 Ks per game. But, they seem to win when they swing and miss, so, maybe that’s somehow an amazing Moneyball strategy based on the new math? If someone out there can explain, I’m all ears and anxious to see how this plays out over a full season.