Mets Game 46: Win Over Dodgers

Mets 5 Dodgers 3

Who’da thunk it? Instead of getting swept, the offensively challenged Mets break Zack Greinke‘s historic streak of 21 consecutive starts of allowing two runs or less, and win the ballgame.

Mets Game Notes

Jonathon Niese gave the Mets yet another strong outing, using his savvy, guile, and competitive nature to match Greinke pitch-for-pitch — and outlast him by two innings — and get the win.

Meanwhile, Zack Greinke struggled mightily in the second inning — or at least, it was struggling for Greinke — as he labored through a 36-pitch frame and couldn’t command his pitches. The Mets had a chance at a very big inning, but “The Living Legend” — Yasiel Puig — made one of the most spectacular outfield catches in baseball history to steal an extra-base hit from Wilmer Flores and help Greinke out of trouble. Even after that second frame, Greinke never quite looked “right” nor comfortable, for whatever reason.

As great an athlete as Puig is, he’s nearly as ignorant, and was part of another unbelievable play, in the sixth inning. The only way to describe is, if Inspector Clouseau of The Pink Panther series was a baseball player, this is how he would turn a double play. The umpires called infield fly rule on a popup with Puig on first and Chone Figgins on second. Daniel Murphy circled the ball in short right field, misjudged it, and it dropped safely. Figgins took off for third, and Puig for second. Murphy threw the ball to Wilmer Flores in the hopes of getting Puig out, but Flores — clearly not understanding what was happening — stepped on the base instead of tagging Puig. Unbelievably, both Flores and Puig had equal knowledge on the infield fly rule — zero. Thinking he was out, Puig wandered off second base after Flores stepped on second. The umpire — who knew the rules, thank goodness — didn’t make any kind of call until Flores tagged Puig (Murphy, alertly, was telling Flores to tag him). Truly, I can’t believe that two of the very best baseball players in the entire world don’t know something as simple as the infield fly rule, and both of these players happened to meet in this random window of time. Maybe I’m a stickler, but knowing the rules is not a challenge — there’s a book, and if you can read, you can know them, regardless of your age or talent level. So kiddies, here’s some homework — which you can wait to do until after school’s out in June — get a copy of the baseball rules, or read them for free on (or various other sources). Read through all the rules at least 15 times, know them inside and out. You know the rules to Monopoly, right? If you’re going to play (or coach) baseball, know the rules. Ignorance can only hurt you, and knowledge can win you ballgames. #littlethings

As good an athlete as is Yasiel Puig, he’s no Eric Campbell. Campbell made an excellent, run-saving, diving catch of his own late in the game, and his athleticism is so impressive to Terry Collins that we may see Campbell at all three outfield positions, shortstop and second, and behind the plate (if you believe what Collins said in the postgame). I imagine Campbell will also be asked to climb on the mound at some point, and may even be lent to the New York Rangers in the event they need a backup goalie and/or left wing for the Stanley Cup playoffs. I’ve also heard from a person close to the situation that the Jets are considering the idea of bringing in Campbell to compete for the starting quarterback position, as well as free safety. However, I think it’s a little premature to suggest that Campbell will be bound for Rio in 2016 for the summer Olympics. But who knows? Team USA surely could use another pole vaulter.

Niese was the first Met pitcher not named Jacob deGrom to collect a base hit, and it was a big one — a booming double to the wall that drove in Anthony Recker and put the Mets ahead 2-1 in the fifth. It was mentioned earlier that pitchers hit Greinke surprisingly well, and I guess it has something to do with Greinke’s lack of focus and/or an approach of not giving pitchers enough credit and throwing meatballs to them — the pitch he served to Niese on that double was a BP fastball over the middle of the plate, about belt-high. Niese is too good of an athlete to under-estimate.

During the bottom of the third inning, Kevin Burkhardt and GKR discussed the grip on the bat and “lining up the knuckles.” Keith Hernandez explained that he always lined up the knuckles in part because he had “a weak right wrist”; because he saw all the great hitters, such as Willie Mays and Henry Aaron line up the knuckles; and because by lining up the knuckles, it forced him to “cock the hands.” Well, I feel that Keith’s explanation is both incomplete and unclear, and I feel that I have an expert opinion on the subject, considering that I once worked for Don Mattingly‘s baseball bat company, I discussed the subject in depth with Donnie Baseball, he trusted me to teach other hitters the concept, and the main product we sold was a baseball bat with a handle shaped specifically to encourage batters to line up the knuckles. So here goes. First off, the knuckles we’re talking about are the “knocker knuckles” — in other words, the knuckles you’d use to knock on a door. Starting from the fingertips, it’s the second set of knuckles, the ones between the knuckles closest to the fingernails and the ones on the hand. Got it? OK, now, you don’t necessarily want to line up those knocker-knuckles perfectly. Ideally, you grab the bat, line up the knocker-knuckles on both hands, and then turn your hands just a bit, so that each set of knockers are lined up about halfway between the other hand’s set of knockers and the big knuckles on the hand. Adjust from there for comfort, but understand that if the knockers line up with the big knuckles, the tendency is to lock the wrists and swing too much with the arms (leading to a long, loopy swing). If the knockers are lined up exactly, you’re likely to be locking the wrists in opposite fashion, and not allowing them to be as flexible as they need to be for best performance. The idea is to hold the bat handle in the fingers, but close to the palm for stability and maximum flexibility, which allows for fastest bat speed.

Or at least, this is the way it was explained to me by Mr. Mattingly. His patented bat handle was somewhat similar to an ax handle, so it naturally fit deep in the fingers, but not quite in the palm. Unfortunately, the company no longer exists, but there may still be bats hanging around sports retail shops. I think they’re great for training purposes, and many players liked using them in games. Here is an illustration of the concept.

I wonder if Chris Young would have caught the first out of the 9th inning, a booming drive to deep center off the bat of Adrian Gonzalez.

Matt Kemp really is a shell of his former self. I know he’s had injury issues, but gee whiz, he looks more like a 39-year-old than a 29-year-old. I have to wonder if he’ll eventually be moved into right field, and Puig into center, as it appears that Puig can cover more ground.

Jenrry Mejia notched his second save, though he gave up two long drives that stayed within the not-so-friendly confines of Citi Cavern. Regardless, the closer role seems to be fitting for his stuff and personality.

Next Mets Game

The Mets host the bumbling Diamondbacks on Friday night. Game time is 7:10 PM. Pitching matchup is scheduled to be Bartolo Colon vs. Chase Anderson.

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. Bat May 22, 2014 at 11:59 pm
    Agree that Mejia just seems to have “it” to be a closer – that attitude, the hair, the fist-pumping, the “who cares if I blew the save yesterday because today I will strike out the side and get the save”…he seems to have it.

    He didn’t want to be a reliever but a lot of guys warm up to a change of roles after they get used to it.

    If his arm doesn’t fall off (which is a big “if”), I could see a better back of the bullpen next year if Mejia, Parnell, maybe Vic Black, Edgin (a stretch to get a lefthander in here, I admit), Germen, etc. are there.

  2. david May 23, 2014 at 12:24 am
    Strawberry said years ago that Mejia was the Mets Mariano. Maybe he was right? You gotta love Niese. Sure he is a lefty but he shows you don’t need to throw 95 to be successful. Campbell can rake and looks very comfortable at the plate. I prefer his approach over Satin’s overly patient at bats. Darling said he should be primordial the other day, which is akin to Yogi Berra telling LJ Mazzilli to hit it if he sees it. Simple philisophy. As for the lining up of the knuckles, that is a great tip and I will try to pass it along to the little leaguers I coach.
  3. meticated May 23, 2014 at 12:58 am
    well, you can’t lose em all !…
  4. meticated May 23, 2014 at 12:59 am
    even a blind squirrel finds an acorn once in a while…
  5. meticated May 23, 2014 at 1:04 am
    sometimes you eat the bear…and sometimes the bear eats you…”Preacher” Roe
  6. wohjr May 23, 2014 at 1:17 am
    • Joe Janish May 23, 2014 at 10:43 am
      Huh, thanks for sharing. I’m fascinated that Donnie’s “V-Grip” wasn’t even mentioned. I always thought it was a good idea, but it was very difficult to get enough buy-in from the players and coaches — at the time we were marketing them, they were more interested in “trampoline effect” and other artificial performance-enhancing features.
  7. Eric May 23, 2014 at 7:19 am
    As good as Campbell has been, playing him in the outfield is just another symptom of Collins’ endless and pointless lineup juggling. Yes, he happens to be hitting now, but he will return to earth, and then we have yet another replacement level player rotating at random through the lineup. The solution is in front of our noses: platoon him with Duda, just like they should have done with Satin. Platoon him with Duda and leave him there when he is hitting 400 in a small sample and leave him there when he is hitting 100 in a small sample. He is not “swinging a good bat”. He is a player with some strengths who has been getting lucky lately.
    • Joe Janish May 23, 2014 at 10:49 am
      Just the outfield? It sounds like Campbell is going to be playing all 9 positions! Heck, maybe he’ll even pull a Cesar Tovar / Bert Campaneris / Shane Halter and play all 9 in one game!
  8. Walnutz15 May 23, 2014 at 8:04 am
    FWIW – Kemp looked absolutely lost in CF last night. Not only on the “Puig” ball (which he had no beat on) — but on Curtis Granderson’s “double” (+ error), where he ended up on 3rd base.

    Will be interesting to see if (and if so, then how much) his game deteriorates as the seasons go by.

    That was some friggin’ catch by Puig.

    Between the contested replay call 2 nights ago, and the Met middle infield looking like they’re not much smarter than a 5th grader in terms of Baseball IQ —- you definitely continue to wonder what kind of value the franchise places in having heady baseball minds about the field and dugout.

    Overall, these guys just dress in uniform and play the game. They’re a pretty big bunch of dummies, otherwise.

    Good win, though – can’t get swept.

  9. DaveSchneck May 23, 2014 at 8:44 am
    No way C Young makes that catch in the top of the 9th. Lagares’ AB was very impressive in the bottom of the 7th, and even though I didn’t like Perez’s choice of throwing a 3rd straight slider, it was still a nasty pitch and Lagaes hung with it. He is their best player until proven otherwise, despite the need to sharpen plate discipline some.

    Regardless of age or rookie status, the lack of baseball acumen or knowing the rules is baffling. These guys didn’t just roll out of bed and onto the MLB diamond. They have all played hundreds of games. I think the coaches should go over the infield fly and some other finer points weekly as a reminder.

    Nice win anyhow, and if they can jump on Arizona some they can defer a lost season at least until June.

    I do enjoy watching Mejia, I like his energy and conviction, as it is easier to watch a game when the players actually look like they care.

    • Joe Janish May 23, 2014 at 10:53 am
      Agreed on Lagares at-bat — I think he’s starting to believe he’s this good.

      In regard to the baseball acumen, I asked the very first person I saw at work today if he knew the infield fly rule. “Of course,” he said. I explained what happened last night, and when I got to the part, “and then Flores stepped on second base,” the guy interrupted me and said “but he’s supposed to tag him, because there’s no force.”

      This is a man who collects data for a wine company, is a very casual fan, and did not play baseball beyond middle school.

      • CleonJames May 23, 2014 at 12:56 pm
        Maybe fielders should drop the ball accidentally on purpose more often in those situations. Even better, teams can keep scouting reports on each player’s LIQRIFR (Likely IQ regarding Infield Fly Rule) and be ready to drop the balls with players like Puig on base. In the old days, a manager would bench a guy for being such a knucklehead. But today, he’ll go home and feel like a king for being Number 1 in ESPN’s top 10 plays.
  10. argonbunnies May 23, 2014 at 6:34 pm
    The reason players don’t know baseball anymore is because in the minors they get promoted based on tools and big stats. They literally have zero career or financial incentive to learn the game.

    I don’t know when this started, but by now it’s clearly established — young players looking up at the levels above them are getting the clear message that intelligent baseball is for scrappy fringe players who can’t throw 95 mph or hit the ball 450 feet. I bet Collin Cowgill knows the infield fly rule.

    Once teams start caring about when a player is fundamentally ready for promotion, rather than just saying “the next level needs a guy and wow you’re athletic and your stats are good for your age”, then we’ll see smart baseball again. Until then, we’re at the mercy of the players’ whims. The handful of MLB players who do play the game right should be celebrated all the more — they took it upon themselves, no one made them learn it.