Mets Game 84: Loss To Braves

Braves 5 Mets 4

The final score reflects a one-run game, but for some reason, it didn’t feel that close.

Oh by the way, the Mets are now 10 games under .500.

Mets Game Notes

Against the best pitching in the league, the Mets scored runs. Then, Daisuke Matsuzaka would render the scoring useless by letting the Braves score.

Not sure why Chris Young was throwing home on a two-out Christian Bethancourt single that easily scored B.J. Upton in the bottom of the fourth. As a result of the throw going home, Bethancourt was able to get to second base, and while he didn’t score, it’s the process with which I take issue — the ends do not justify the means. Keith Hernandez was asking “where is the cutoff man?” but where Young picked up the ball, to me, was too shallow to warrant a cutoff man — Young needed to make the decision to throw the ball to second base in that situation.

Daniel Murphy genuinely made me laugh when he tried to deke B.J. Upton on an overthrow by Travis d’Arnaud in the fifth, prompting Keith Hernandez to call Murphy “a bad magician.” I’m not saying that to be mean at all, I swear — he really did make me laugh and I thought it was great. Murphy constantly tries to deke runners ALL THE TIME, to the point where it could be considered “bush league,” but, what the heck? He has nothing to lose other than respect, right? Who knows, one of these times he might fool someone and get an out, and it’s little things that can mean the difference between winning and losing.

Hey, you know I get on Murphy constantly for his baserunning gaffes and brain freezes — the little things that regularly prevent the Mets from winning — and many of you think that I’m a “hater” as a result. I’m not, and for the umpteenth time, my criticism for Murphy is the curmudgeon in me striking out against ALL young, fundamentally challenged ballplayers we see today — Murphy is my poster child for a lost generation of wonderfully gifted, offensively polished, but otherwise awful ballplayers. At the same time, I can and do recognize Murphy works his butt off, wants to do well, and occasionally practices winning habits. Unfortunately, that’s the problem with today’s ballplayers — the “occasionally” part. To quote Vince Lombardi, “you don’t do things right some of the time, you do them right ALL of the time.”

Another thing that made me laugh was Gary Cohen gleefully bringing up the fact that Stephen Drew is currently hitting “a buck forty” while Ruben Tejada “has turned his season around,” and asked if people advocating for Drew all winter should be apologizing. Oh, boy, Gary, don’t go there just yet. Tejada’s been decent at the plate for what? Ten games? During which he’s made nearly as many mistakes in the field as excellent plays? And Drew — who didn’t have the benefit of spring training — has played 19 games and made less than 70 plate appearances? Tread carefully with that talking point, it may bite you in the butt before long. Particularly of note is the fact that Drew has historically been a slow starter, and in years where he’s been healthy enough to play a second half, has almost always put up better numbers after the All Star Exhibition.

Nice catch by Juan Lagares on a Justin Upton deep drive to the left-center gap in the bottom of the seventh to save a run. Or as Gary Cohen said, “Lagares’ glove — where extra-base hits go to die.” Nice one.

I agree with Keith: how the heck did Jordan Walden learn to “pitch” like that, leaping two feet off the rubber before foot strike? Gary wondered aloud why/how he gets away with it, and it’s probably because many (most?) pitchers’ back foot is disengaged from the rubber prior to release — it’s not as unusual as you might think, because it’s not as obvious without the help of slow-motion video. If umpires started calling balls or “no pitch” (?) on Walden for releasing the ball when his back foot was off the rubber, they’d have to do the same to dozens of other MLBers — only, it would be more difficult to detect in real time. Regardless, Walden’s style is bizarre, and not something that youngsters should emulate.

Remember how people used to gush over Ike Davis‘ defense, and particularly, his ability to scoop balls in the dirt? (Personally, I never thought he was special in that regard compared to average everyday MLB first basemen.) Well, have you yet seen Lucas Duda muff a bad throw in the dirt that he should’ve handled? Hasn’t he been doing a pretty solid job of digging out short throws from his fellow infielders? I think so. Though, I suppose Duda needs to dive into the stands a few times to catch foul balls before people will start anointing him a Gold Glove. In all seriousness, Duda has been nondescript on defense — meaning, unnoticeable, which is a good thing, as he’s made all the plays he’s supposed to make, and what more can you ask of a first baseman?

Does Craig Kimbrel normally hum his fastball at 98-99 MPH? I remember him being more 95-96 with a 97 mixed in, but according to the gun displayed on the SNY telecast, he was flirting with triple digits on every fastball. Whoa. Then he mixes in that slider? Not fair. Reminds me of Goose Gossage back in the day.

The Mets have had 30 games decided by one run this year — by far, the most in MLB (next-closest is 25 by the Royals) — and have Ylost 20 of them. Gee whiz, how does that happen? #smallthings #badmanaging

Not for nuttin’, but we’ve been discussing the little things here at this blog for how long? Eight years? Yeah. Shall I quote Vince Lombardi again, or are we going to whine about the Mets’ lack of “one more bat”?

Speaking of bats, during the postgame, Bobby Ojeda touched on the fact that Terry Collins tends to “play the hot hand” when it comes to making out the lineup. Earl Weaver was a master at this, as was Gil Hodges. Collins? Not so much, at least from what we’ve seen — though maybe there are advanced metrics that may prove that theory wrong?

I’m starting to feel bad for Collins during the postgame press conferences. If nothing else, he’s been handling three and a half years of failure with aplomb, and keeping his cool. Maybe that’s why the Mets front office picked him in the first place — because they knew tough times were ahead, and they’d need someone adept at handling the daily grind of answering the same depressing questions about why the team was losing more games than they win. A truly fierce competitor — someone hell-bent on winning — would not have done well in this job over the past three and half years. Look at how Willie Randolph — someone who expected to win — evolved as things became more dire. Jerry Manuel was a fairly adept loser for a while, until he just couldn’t bear it any more. Collins is doing a yeoman’s job of handling the inevitable — kudos to him for keeping it together this long.

Next Mets Game

Mets and Braves do it one more time on Wednesday at 7:10 PM. Jacob deGrom goes to the hill against Julio Teheran.

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. DanB July 2, 2014 at 2:51 pm
    One reason Hodges and Weaver were much better at playing the hot hand then Collins is that they had better hands to begin with. By the way, from a statistic point of view, there is no advantage from playing the hot hand. I know people will fight me on this, but if a lifetime hitter like Tejada is hitting 20 for his last 45, he is still most likely to hit his career average of .256 of his next ten at bats. You are always more likely to get a hit from a .275 hitter then a .250 hitter no matter how hot they were leading up to their next at bat. Don’t believe me? Look it up. The problem is that you never know when a player is going to cool off and the worse the hitter, the sooner he is going to cool off.
    • Joe Janish July 2, 2014 at 4:21 pm
      I don’t know about Hodges and Weaver being so blessed with better hands. Weaver got remarkable production out of journeymen like John Lowenstein, Gary Roenicke, Terry Crowley, and onetime Met Benny Ayala. And what Hodges squeezed out of the ’69 Mets was pretty, um … amazin’. 😉 I’d also have to put Bobby V. into the conversation, especially when you look at the 1999-2000 Mets.
      • Dan B July 3, 2014 at 10:02 am
        Bobby V was a genius at putting players in the proper spot to succeed. He never let an opposing manager force him into a position he didn’t want to be. When hitters are facing pitchers they can handle, they hit with confidence.
  2. argonbunnies July 2, 2014 at 6:38 pm
    10-20 in one-run games is awful. Sandy’s comments about expecting that number to turn around are statistically supported, but observation tells me otherwise. The Mets are, to some extent, chokers. Despite the organization’s parade of likable ballplayers and emphasis on a good clubhouse, the last Mets team who played its best when it mattered most was the 2006 squad (and that ended when LoDuca let Mota throw a fastball to Spezio).

    I can’t blame Terry for the one-run losses — I think he’s about average in reliever management, balancing some dumb moves with some shrewd ones, some orthodoxy with a few experiments. It’s really more about the hitters squeezing the bat and getting themselves out when the game’s on the line.

    Do the Mets need a team psychologist? At this point, I don’t think that’d help. Give them a competitive roster first, give them real reasons to expect victory (as opposed to just management’s lies to the fan base), and if they’re still choking, then maybe a shrink could do some good.

    • Joe Janish July 2, 2014 at 7:34 pm
      Players choke because they’re tense.

      Why are the players tense? Why are they not relaxed? Are they allowing external expectations / influences affect their focus?

      • argonbunnies July 3, 2014 at 2:24 am
        To that last question, Dave Hudgens says Yes. Fan booing is one influence; I assume there are others.