Mets Game 26: Win Over Phillies

Mets 6 Phillies 1

Channeling the ghost of Eddie Rabbit, the Mets love a rainy night.

Mets Game Notes

On a night not meant for baseball, the Mets reign down on the Phillies in Philadelphia and go 4 games over .500.

Jonathon Niese did what he needed to do, throwing strikes for seven innings to a Phillies team that clearly packed it in after falling behind early. And the Mets offense did what it needed to do — take advantage of a pitcher struggling mightily against the weather and inner demons.

Cole Hamels completely wet the bed in the fourth frame (see what I did there?); he’s done that several times in the past against the Mets, and I don’t know if it’s something he does frequently, or if he has a mental thing with the Mets. Hamels couldn’t throw a strike, and bounced several in the dirt, walking four in the process including one to Jonathon Niese with the bases loaded that forced a run home. Hamels threw 37 pitches in the inning, and if Eric Young, Jr. didn’t ground out on the second pitch he saw for out number three, I’m not sure Hamels would’ve been able to throw two more strikes against him. I don’t believe it had anything to do with the weather — I firmly believe that Hamels occasionally falls into these Steve Sax episodes.

Hamels wasn’t much better in the fifth, as he hit Josh Satin and then walked Travis d’Arnaud to load the bases. Then, Ruben Tejada swung from his heels on the first pitch he saw to give Hamels a strike, and followed it with a two-run single to center on Hamels’ 106th and last pitch, with two outs in the fifth.

Tejada, by the way, also hit a double down the third base line; it was a grounder that skipped off the 3B bag and into no-man’s land against the wall in foul territory in left field. Jayson Nix was playing in on Tejada, presumably guarding against a bunt, and might have had a chance to knock down the ball had he been playing at normal depth. I don’t understand why anyone ever plays Tejada in with no one on base — has he EVER attempted to bunt for a hit in his life? Do teams simply assume he has speed because he’s otherwise an awful offensive player? Very mysterious.

Even though Ryan Howard already has five homers this year, he clearly isn’t the same hitter. He’s getting nothing from his bottom half, probably because of lingering issues and/or bad habits as a result of his left achilles injury. Kids, your baseball swing starts with the turning of your back foot — the legs and hips are bigger and slower than your hands, so you start the lower half first to give it a head start. After starting the hips, you fire the hands quickly down to the ball. If you watch Howard swing, however, his upper body almost always leads the swing, and his bottom half lags behind — you’ll see his back foot turn AFTER his hands have already moved forward. Again, not sure if it’s because he still has pain in his achilles, or if it was a bad habit that resulted from previous pain. I had a similar issue after tearing the ligaments in my right ankle (I am a righthanded hitter) in my senior year of college, and because of the injury, I couldn’t turn my back foot efficiently, and as a result had no power.

Daniel Murphy was thrown out attempting to take second base on a pitch in the dirt in the third inning. However, that doesn’t count as a caught-stealing, so his consecutive steals streak remains intact. I always wondered why that play didn’t count as a caught stealing. When you think about it, it doesn’t make much sense, because, in effect, the runner IS trying to “steal” a base. I’ve always felt that if the catcher throws the runner out, the catcher should be credited with a caught-stealing, because it takes skill to block the ball, pick it up, and throw a runner out. Also, if the runner doesn’t advance on a pitch in the dirt, shouldn’t he be punished (in the stats) by making a poor decision? It’s bad enough that most steals are really the fault of the pitcher, yet they go against the catcher’s stats. And if the pitch is blocked so well that the runner is thrown out, how can it be described as a “wild” pitch? Something to ponder.

Murphy did swipe a bag later in the game to further extend his streak. He also had three hits, all against Hamels. Not sure how or why, but Murphy has had Hamels’ number his entire career.

Next Mets Game

The Mets and Phillies are scheduled to do it again on Wednesday night at 7:05 PM on Wednesday night, but if the weather reports are correct, the game will be flooded out. In the event there is a contest, Bartolo Colon faces Kyle Kendrick.

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. meticated April 30, 2014 at 5:29 am
    It’s you isn’t did this…you made the mets competitive…just when I decried them awful…you defied my decrie. gave them something didn’t ya?…Some potion…Unguent. ..decoction. ..gave them their mojo back. ..I blame you!!!!…drat…now I gotta believe again
  2. NormE April 30, 2014 at 7:30 am
    Come on, Meticated….there is no Easter bunny, no Santa, no Seaver & Koosman. There are 136 games left. Enjoy the early gift, but don’t fall in love with smoke and mirrors.
    Those who ignore the lessons of history……….
  3. Craig April 30, 2014 at 8:10 am
    Maybe that club house exorcism worked for the shot term,
    whatever has the club playing well I hope it continues.

    Certain players need to start hitting consistently or the rainbow will fade.

    I am certainly enjoying the winning ways.

  4. friend April 30, 2014 at 9:56 am
    “Mets Game 24”
    “Hamels through 37”
    “walked Travis d’Arnaud to walk the bases”

    You need to switch back to your old brand of coffee.

    • Joe Janish April 30, 2014 at 3:37 pm
      Thanks “Friend” — I’m glad SOMEONE is paying attention!

      I think my mistakes are still a few less than some others around the Mets blogosphere. Still, I do take pride in my writing, and I sincerely appreciate the corrections.

      Coffee? Seriously? Dude, I wrote that post in the wee hours of the morning after working a wine tasting from 4 PM to 10 PM. There wasn’t any coffee involved.

      Good thing this blog isn’t my day job, eh?

  5. Corey Gorey April 30, 2014 at 11:19 am
    Good one on the Eddie Rabbitt reference. I didn’t even know he was dead. And according to Wikipedia, he was born in Brooklyn and raised in Jersey! Where did that accent come from? And the Mets at 4 games over .500? I don’t know who I am anymore.
    • Joe Janish April 30, 2014 at 3:49 pm
      Corey! The boy from Brazil! Glad you’re still with us — unlike Eddie Rabbitt. Eddie R. sang three of my favorite songs when I was a pre-teen, then dropped out of sight. I also had no idea he passed, and no idea he was raised in Jersey — where did he find country music in East Orange?

      Clint Black was born in NJ (Long Branch), also, but moved to Texas before he could sing, so he’s as much a NJ native as Pequannock-born Derek Jeter.

  6. argonbunnies April 30, 2014 at 3:29 pm
    Guys, the Mets are usually well over .500 at some point in the first half. It’s nice, but it’s not weird or novel.
    • Joe Janish April 30, 2014 at 3:52 pm
      Well, the Mets weren’t more than 2 games over .500 at any point after April 13, 2013, through about a week ago. So it is kind of unusual.
      • argonbunnies April 30, 2014 at 4:10 pm
        I’m looking at the last 7 years, not the last 1. The period that stands out to me as unusual is 2013. April 2014 fits neatly into the pattern from 2010-2012.

        The pattern of the Mets pitching well in April goes back to 2002, if I remember right.

        • crozier April 30, 2014 at 4:50 pm
          It isn’t usual or unusual; it’s what’s happening this year, and so far it’s good. What happened five years ago or whenever is irrelevant.

          I’m perplexed by the continuous negating of well-played games. If they start stinking up the league, there’s plenty of time to heap criticism on them. One game at a time, you know?

  7. argonbunnies April 30, 2014 at 4:02 pm
    I hate to pile more scorn on poor Tejada when his stats are finally starting to improve, but man, has he had a single hard-hit line drive this year? I think his hits have all been grounders and little loopers in front of OFs. He’s still hitting too many balls in the air. His OBP is solid only because he’s been intentionally walked 5 times to get to the pitcher. He’s also got the 2nd worst rate of DPs turned in MLB (though part of that is on Murphy). Are we sure Seratelli wouldn’t be any better?
    • Joe Janish April 30, 2014 at 4:18 pm
      I’m seeing the same. I swear, the first 200 games of his big-league career — when he was a .280-.285 hitter — it was a similar string of luck. If BABIP is any indicator, then what we’re seeing is believing — Tejada’s BABIP was .331 in 2011 (when he hit .284) and .339 in 2012 (when he hit .289). So far this year, his BABIP is .306, as he’s hitting .221 (luck is keeping his average above the Mendoza Line).

      Bottom line is that Tejada is simply not very good offensively.

  8. argonbunnies April 30, 2014 at 4:03 pm
    As far as the bunt defense, I think this is proof that all the folks in baseball who complain about “too many stats” simply aren’t using them. I’m sure the info that Tejada has never bunted for a hit in his life is readily accessible to every team the Mets play; managers and coaches clearly prefer to go by habit rather than read. “Short middle infielder with no power? He must bunt for hits occasionally.” This response is so automatic and unthinking that teams continue to play in at third even after watching Tejada run and seeing that he doesn’t have the speed to beat out a bunt.

    It drives me nuts to see managers burning through bullpens to achieve marginal left-left or right-right match-up advantages, while at the same time playing the opposite-field OF deep against ping hitters, or having the 1B come way off the line when the pitcher throws a lefty a change up. Most managers only think about The Things You’re Obviously Supposed to Think About Because Everyone Else Does. This is why Joe Maddon gets so much love — he truly is a breath of fresh air.

    I wonder if Ivy League types will ever take over in-game decision-making the way they’ve taken over GM offices…

    • Joe Janish April 30, 2014 at 4:23 pm
      Or do today’s managers make stupid decisions such as bringing in the third baseman for Tejada because their GM’s allow them to make so few decisions, that the few they can make, they make just for the sake of feeling in control?

      I also wonder if the same-handed matchup relief decisions come from the front office as a directive based purely on stats churned out by the computer. In the past, we’d see managers stick with a reliever if he was going well, but today, if he doesn’t do the matchup, and it doesn’t work out, he likely has to answer to the Jonah Hill character.

  9. meticated April 30, 2014 at 4:11 pm
    What’s unusual is that the Coupons still provide cold cuts at the buffet table in the clubhouse…or toilet paper in the johns. management spendthrifts might ultimately tell us to bring our own roll…but players still have pride nonetheless’s good to see us grinding again…