Mets Game 31: Loss To Marlins

Marlins 4 Mets 3

Mets jump out to a quick 2-0 lead in the initial inning, and would’ve won if they were playing high school rules. Unfortunately, they play Major League Baseball, so the last two innings count.

Mets Game Notes

It was smooth sailing through seven for Jonathon Niese, as he shut out the Fish on five hits. Then came the eighth, and in a matter of ten minutes, Daisuke Matsuzaka undid Niese’s masterpiece.

Ironically, much was made of Dice-K’s unusual routine of throwing every single day. This is a dangerous habit he learned in Japan, where baseball coaches — like the ones in the USA — also believe the world is flat. Apparently, throwing constantly is what made Dice-K so amazing prior to arriving in the USA, and when the Red Sox discouraged such a ridiculous routine, well, THAT was the reason he didn’t dominate here the way he did in the Far East.

So wasn’t it interesting that, after being allowed to do whatever he wants to do since being handed a bullpen role, Dice-K shat the bed? He had zero command, which is a function of fatigue. Or, maybe, it’s easier to simply chalk up his awful evening to the biorhythms, moon phase, Farmer’s Almanac, or “baseball gods.” After all, what the heck is science based on? Just research and stuff.

Mets relievers threw first-pitch balls to 9 consecutive batters in the 8th inning, and tossed 48 pitches total in that frame. Somehow, though, Kyle Farnsworth pulled a rabbit out of his hat and escaped from Alcatraz simultaneously, getting three outs with the bases loaded.

Miami starter Nathan Eovaldi very nearly matched Niese pitch for pitch, except for two bad pitches in the first frame that gave the Mets an immediate 2-0 lead. Seeing that lefthanded hitters whack Eovaldi for a .325 AVG / .832 OPS, yet righties were limited to .127/.336 thus far this year, an astute Terry Collins stacked the lineup with lefthanded hitters. Still, the Mets could only muster three runs on five hits and a walk against Eovaldi in 7 innings, striking out 10 times.

Though Eovaldi can paint both corners with a 95-96 MPH, moving fastball, there’s no mystery to his struggles against lefties — he doesn’t throw an offspeed pitch. His only secondary pitch is a slider that can make righties chase, but dives right into most LH hitters’ wheelhouse. If Eovaldi ever figures out how to throw a change-up, he could become an elite starter. If not, his ultimate fate may be no better than Mike Pelfrey.

Meanwhile, Niese did a wonderful job of changing speeds, using a good curveball and change-up — often for strikes — to keep the Fish off-balance. Watching Niese and Gee perform their artistry on back-to-back nights is a treat for those who truly appreciate PITCHING, as opposed to flamethrowing.

Why, ultimately, did the Mets lose this game? Their offense is atrocious. Even with Curtis Granderson out of his slump, Daniel Murphy on a hot streak, and David Wright stroking, there isn’t enough stick in the lineup to support good starting pitching. A team can’t rely on getting great starting pitching AND great relief pitching every night — at some point, even in the post-PEDs, pitching-dominant era, a team has to score runs. And by runs, I mean more than three — because NL teams average four runs a game.

Travis d’Arnaud struck out three times in one at-bat in the ninth, but “got” two very close ball calls from the home plate umpire to run the count full. Then, Terry Collins put on the hit-and-run with Lucas Duda on first base to end the inning with a strike ’em out, throw ’em out. Hit-and-run in the ninth of a tie ballgame, with Duda at first? Really? Wow.

The only more head-scratching move by Collins was leaving Dice-K in the game as long as he did. Oh, and taking out Niese in the first place. Why was Niese removed, exactly? Did he tell Collins or Dan Warthen that he was done? Though he worked out of a difficult situation in the 7th, he didn’t — to me — show any sign of fatigue after 108 pitches. Maybe my eyes missed something that Collins or Warthen picked up, or maybe Niese asked out (doubtful). As long as he was getting outs — and big outs, in big siutations — I’d stick with Niese as long as he was making pitches. Niese made his biggest and best pitches of the night in the seventh, so why remove him them?

In the postgame, non-scientist Bobby Ojeda made a few ignorant comments about Niese’s recent approach. Ojeda noted that Niese’s velocity used to be 93-94 MPH, saying that was “a bit more effort,” and suggested that Niese has “dialed it back” to I respectfully disagree with that theory, because I know that the flaw in Niese’s mechanics has severely damaged his shoulder to the point where it can’t rotate fast enough to reach 93-94. Ojeda also says that Niese is “using his legs” to “take pressure off his arm.” No, again — the opposite, actually. Because of the way Niese is landing with his front foot toward first base, and with an open toe, he’s cutting off the rotation of his hips at foot strike (as well as putting more strain on his shoulder in the follow-through). So in fact, he’s using his arm MORE. Yes, Niese has done a brilliant job of working with what he has left — thanks in equal parts to pain killers, savvy, and competitiveness — but let’s not believe that Niese is intentionally throwing 6-7 MPH slower than he’s capable.

Next Mets Game

Mets and Marlins do it again on Tuesday night at 7:10 PM. Bartolo Colon faces Henderson Alvarez.

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. david May 6, 2014 at 1:05 am
    I did not see the game but on Gameday saw Quintanilla make a crucial error int he 8th that seems to have been glossed over by Dice-K’s meltdown. I remain sceptical about Q as a major leaguer and remain concerned about the SS situation. Give Flores a shot if we don’t care too much about the occasional error from our backup SS. TDA is getting a hell of a lot longer lead than Flores is, for what it is worth. As for the bullpen, Vic Black seems to have figured things out in Vegas. It seems a matter of time for him and Montero or DeGrom to replace a couple of the guys there now (Valverde? Germen?)
    • Kent May 6, 2014 at 8:08 am
      The problem with Flores is that it’s universally agreed that he severely lacked range to play SS, he actually have solid hands and pretty good arm, but he is very slow, it’s kinda like Dan Uggla and 2nd base, so he’ll have to hit a lot to make up for that. (Though admitedly, he can probably easily passed curent Mets SS in terms of value to the team)

      Vic Black, even with his 2 straight walkless outings, is still something like 12K and 10BBs in 11 innings, this is not good enough, he needs to stay down there a little longer to further refine his control. I do advocate calling deGrom up to help the bullpen though.

  2. meticated May 6, 2014 at 7:15 am
    As we explored ad nauseum, the Mets are working with pick axes and crowbars in an valiant yet flawed attempt to create Michaelangelo’s David…we simply lack the refined talent to produce artistic results. for now we’ve got to settle for day-glo Elvis on black velvet…or dogs playing cards..perhaps soon our apprentices become masters themselves. ..meanwhile warm beer no champagne
  3. meticated May 6, 2014 at 7:25 am
    But, it would be a big source of encouragement if we didn’t shoot ourselves in the grain with imbecilic game management. ..poor personnel decisions and Tightwad ownership corporate bullspit. .Overall I’m encouraged by our potential and decent results to date but history informs me that i have been disillusioned before and I’m still skeptical at best
  4. meticated May 6, 2014 at 7:25 am
    scuse. ..grain is groin. .lol
    • friend May 6, 2014 at 9:51 am
      see the wizard for a broin 🙂
  5. Kent May 6, 2014 at 8:01 am
    I’m OK with taking Niese out (or at least understand the rationale), Collins let Gee go back into the game yesterday, and it nearly burned him, so maybe he doesn’t want to take his chance again, especially since it’s only a 3-run lead this time.

    Now, I don’t get what in the world is Collins thinking when Dice-K is clearly have no control and seems really uncomfortable on the mound (not to mention can’t get any guys out), at the very latest he should take him out after the Stanton single, especially since Mets reliever should already be warmed up.

    That Quintanilla error was huge because it looks like a double play ball (and runners on 3rd seems to be on hold because Q might caught that), had he make the play it’ll most likely be 3-1 runner on 3rd or 3-2 nobody on base with 2 outs. Instead, we have 3-2, 1st and 2nd, no out, changed the game situation dramatically. I don’t get why in the late of game (and Eovaldi out of game) Tejada is not out there since he is a better fielder than Q in his career

    bottom 9th Marlins told Ed Lucas to bunt is idiotic in my opinion because it took the bat out of Stanton’s hand, you want your best guy to have a chance to hit. (Of course, if it’s runner on 2nd with no out, then it’s an entirely different matter)

  6. Walnutz15 May 6, 2014 at 9:54 am
    Terry Collins is a moron.
  7. chris May 6, 2014 at 11:16 am
    I was able to attend last night’s game and found it entirely sloppy. In addition to the multiple mentions of the ball going through Q’s wickets, Niese couldn’t handle a ball back to him, Murphy needlessly threw a ball in the dirt that Duda had to scoop to end an inning and butchered a grounder as well that he got lucky on, not to mention a bunt by Yelich that seemed to confuse the entire team. Then of course the bizarre hit and run.

    That said, the team seems to have good chemistry, Jeurys Familia and Jose Valverde were thoroughly enjoying signing autographs and trying to make people guess who they were (I admit to getting Familia but not realizing it was Valverde, and I am too old for autographs). Murphy and Duda were joking about Murphy’s incompetency.

    Mike Piazza was sitting right in front of me and was happy to sign and snap between innings, which I thought was very cool. I left after the top of the 9th, the writing was on the wall.

  8. Craig May 6, 2014 at 12:11 pm
    Thank You Sandy for evaluating and signing the aging bullpen.
    Thank You Terry for playing those pitchers at Sandy’s command.
    Do explain Mr. Niese why it is so.

    Matzusaka does not want relieve, he’s making it quite clear.

    Stephen Drew is NOT the savior for shortstop. He’s older, injury prone and highly over priced. Remember 1986 when the Mets brought up a 19 year old shortstop for the World Series roster? He went onto have a decent career. Maybe it’s time to give another youngster a try, what have we got to lose?

    Sandy does not want to bring up young players because he doesn’t want to start the clock on big league time for arbitration and free agency. Save a few million and lose many games and fans in the process. Tis why older players continue to be signed and exhibit their last gasps.

    The story is that Selig “forced” Sandy on the Mets in order to get their financial status under control by getting ride of bad contracts. He has done so, but the money saving squeezing continues.

    What has been the Mets record since Sandy and Terry have lead the team? Not so good.

    Terry is hanging on in the hope that the team turns things around and he can be pronounced the teams savior to rectify his earlier coaching fiasco’s. It will never happen!
    He still doesn’t know hoe to manage a bullpen, construct a steady batting order or play the right players. He’s grasping at straws every game and it shows.

    Time for new ownership, no doubt about it.

  9. #FireTerry May 6, 2014 at 1:18 pm
    I know it’s been said by others, but Terry Collins is not the man for the job. Every night it’s something else with him; not saying it’s an easy job, but he always pulls the wrong string. It’s ridiculous…He’s terrible at managing the bullpen, and I mean terrible. The constant changes in the lineup are ridiculous; and Joe, you’re spot on…WTF was that hit and run call in the 9th? It’s almost a joke at this point. I believe in this team- minus the bullpen- and honestly, we can make pull a wildcard in the weak NL this year if we had the right leader…Terry Collins is not that guy, plain and simple.
    • Walnutz15 May 6, 2014 at 2:02 pm
      As I’ve always maintained over the past 3 years of watching Collins…….you may not care about managerial moves when your club is sub-.500, but just wait until you’re potentially contending for something.

      He’s an awful in-game manager, and always has been.