Tag: ian kennedy

Mets Game 103: Loss to Diamondbacks

Diamondbacks 9 Mets 6

The main talking point expressed on the radio and TV broadcasts during the pregame was that the Mets “owed” the Diamondbacks for getting swept last week. Back in their home cavern, the Mets were geared up to stick it to the D-Backs, and give them “payback” for the embarrassment of three straight losses in the dry, racist-profiling heat of Arizona.

Unfortunately, things didn’t quite work out the way the Mets would’ve liked.

Mike Pelfrey gave up three runs in a 40-pitch first frame, but the Mets fought back in the bottom of the inning to tie it up. Pelfrey, however, was determined to keep the Mets behind, giving up a go-ahead run in the third. Again, the Mets fought back and actually took the lead in the bottom of the third, and things settled down until the sixth, when Big Pelf was removed after 118 pitches. At the time of his exit, opposing pitcher Ian Kennedy was standing on first base thanks to an error by Jose Reyes, and lefthanded hitter Kelly Johnson was stepping to the plate. In classic “by the book” fashion, “manager” Jerry Manuel brought in lefty Raul Valdes to face the lefthanded-hitting Johnson — never mind the fact that LH hitters are pounding Valdes to the tune of .317 with an .852 OPS. Before Pelfrey could get a swig of Gatorade, Johnson demolished a Valdes offering over the fence in centerfield to give AZ a 6-5 lead. An ice pack wasn’t even on Pelfrey’s arm when Miguel Montero hit a three-run homer a few minutes later to ice the game for the Diamondbacks.

Game Notes

Mike Pelfrey was not very good, but was better than the last time he faced the D-Backs. He pitched 5 2/3 innings, allowing 5 runs (4 ER) on 8 hits and 2 walks, striking out 4. The SNY team mentioned that Pelfrey’s sinker wasn’t sinking much any more — that it “comes and goes”. What I see is the same thing we’ve talked about here for several weeks — he is hunching over slightly at the knee lift, which in turn throws off his balance slightly, which in turn throws off his arm angle and release point. That minor alteration causes his hand to slightly angle to the side and his fingers to be more on the side of the ball than on the top at release. The fingers must be on top in order to get downward movement — it’s a matter of physics — and because they are not, his fastball moves more laterally than vertically. No vertical movement means no sink.

Pelfrey hasn’t finished six innings since late June. Over his last six starts, he’s hurled 25.1 innings and allowed 54 hits, 28 runs (27 earned), with 14 walks and 13 strikeouts.

In addition to Pelf’s mechanical issues, he’s also falling back into those problems with focus that plagued him in his first four years as an MLBer. For example, in the second inning, he threw the ball over to first base six times before giving Chris Young a tremendous jump and easy steal of second. Pelfrey proceeded to walk Kelly Johnson because he was so worried about Young that he couldn’t concentrate on pitching to him.

The SNY announcers, some tweeters, and Jerry Manuel in the postgame all felt that bringing in Raul Valdes to face Kelly Johnson was a good idea, based on the fact that Valdes “has been so good lately”. Sorry, but I don’t care how “good” Valdes has been when it comes to his stats — the guy throws garbage, has poor velocity, little if any movement, no out pitch, and batters have no trouble seeing the ball out of his hand. In other words, his main strength is the element of mystery; some batters simply don’t do well facing a guy they’ve never or rarely seen. It’s only a matter of time before a pitcher with his limited skill set gets crushed. And what do you know? Nearly all the AZ hitters had seen him before, with Johnson, Upton, and LaRoche all seeing him three times before and Montero twice. What happened to Valdes in this game is called “overexposure”.

David Wright went 3-for-4 with 5 RBI, hitting two homeruns. The sixth Met run was driven in by Angel Pagan, who continues to lead the Mets in batting average with RISP.

Former Met Aaron Heilman notched his fourth save of the season with a scoreless ninth.

Home plate umpire Chad Fairchild was remarkably inconsistent with his strike zone. Generally I don’t like to judge lateral calls from my TV screen viewpoint, so I’m not talking about the pitches that were on or off the plate. What I can see pretty well from the eye of the off-centerfield camera, however, is the vertical strike zone — and that was all over the place. It seemed that the zone was “tall” at times, extending from the bottom of the knees to the top of the letters. There were several high-pitch called strikes when Pelfrey was on the mound, and, strangely, several low-pitch strike calls when Ian Kennedy was hurling.

The Mets are now 7.5 games behind the league-leading Braves, and a half-game ahead of the Marlins. However, there are 59 games left to play — plenty of time to catch up.

Next Mets Game

The Mets and Diamondbacks do it again on Saturday night at 7:10 PM. Hisanori Takahashi takes the hill against Barry Enright.


Mets Game 93: Loss to Diamondbacks

Diamondbacks 13 Mets 2

Much was made of the fact that for the first time in over a year, the Mets’ lineup was as intended — in other words, intact with all the planned regulars healthy.

Unfortunately, it didn’t matter.

Mike Pelfrey was the one of the top three or four pitchers in baseball through June 25th. Since then, he has been one of the three or four worst in baseball — and that includes PONY leagues. Big Pelf dug a big hole early and the Mets never had a chance to climb out. It took him 51 pitches to get out of the first inning, and he left before finishing the second. By the time he hit the showers, his line looked like this: 1 1/3 IP, 6 ER, 7 H, 2 BB, 1 K. Ouch.

Unfortunately for the Mets, the next arms brought in provided no relief. Raul Valdes helped Pelfrey increase his ERA by allowing an inherited runner to score, and Fernando Nieve allowed 5 runs on 5 hits in the 6th inning. So even if the offense showed any sign of life, it probably would not have made a difference.

Game Notes

If you read my post on Pelfrey’s minor mechanical issue, you may have noticed during this game that he was hunching over fairly often — which in turn wreaked havoc with his arm angle, release point, and command. Just as significant, his body language was negative; he looked lost and lacking in confidence. In some ways, he reminded me of bad outings by Ron Darling back in the mid-1980s, when Darling used to think too much on the mound. Pelfrey was thinking about something, and to me it looked like he was filling his mind with negative thoughts. When mechanical issues are combined with psychological issues, bad things happen. Success generally breeds confidence, which in turn follows with more success — but in Pelfrey’s case, that hasn’t happened. I wonder if he’s one of those self-sabotaging types who fear success?

The Mets scored once, in the fifth inning, after pinch-hitter extraordinaire Josh Thole walked, advanced to second on a wild pitch, and scored on a blistering line drive off the bat of Angel Pagan.

David Wright went 2-for-3 with a double. Did anyone notice? I didn’t.

Though “the plan” was to have a four-man outfield rotation, Jerry Manuel nixed that by announcing that Pagan would play every day. That was the best news of the day.

Speaking of, whatever happened to the idea of “easing” Carlos Beltran back into everyday duty? Wasn’t he supposed to play one day, sit the next, play two in a row, sit one, etc. ? Yes, he did get the day off on Sunday … but I don’t remember the plan being three days on, one day off. Not that it matters, and I’m sure the Mets know what they’re doing.

While we’re on the subject of players returning from the DL, Luis Castillo returned to the roster and started at 2B. He punched two of the Mets’ 8 hits and scored half their runs. His legs looked fairly healthy running the bases.

Jose Reyes returned to the lineup as well, and looked good offensively but lost and rusty on defense. He made a terrible throw on an attempted DP turn and completely missed a perfect throw to 2B by Rod Barajas on an attempted steal.

Pedro Feliciano continues to look bad, as he allowed 2 runs on 4 hits and a walk in the eighth inning. He threw the entire inning and expended 36 pitches. Yet, Jerry Manuel keeps telling us that Feliciano can pitch every day because he’s a “situational” guy and doesn’t face many guys nor throw many pitches. Did you know Feliciano has thrown 109 pitches so far in July? That’s kind of a lot for someone who is supposed to be a “LOOGY”. (For comparison, Cardinals LOOGY Trever Miller has thrown 38 pitches this month, threw 133 total in June and 118 in May.) But I’m sure overuse has nothing to do with Feliciano’s drop in effectiveness — he’s probably just not throwing the right pitches at the right times, as Manuel explained the other day.

Next Mets Game

The Mets play again in Arizona on Tuesday night at 9:40 PM EST. R.A. Dickey faces Barry Enright.