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 MLB.com (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.
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.