Mets Game 25: Loss To Nationals

Nationals 4 Mets 3

All good things must come to an end.

Mets Game Notes

Chris Capuano was somewhat disappointing compared to his previous starts; he allowed 4 runs on 10 hits in 5 2/3 innings. He didn’t pitch terribly, and was about as good as one can expect from a #5 starter. But he wasn’t able to paint the corners, so his strikes were getting a lot of the plate, which made him very hittable. That’s going to happen every once in a while with a soft-tosser whose success is tied directly to super-fine command.

Though he wasn’t spectacular as a Met, I always enjoyed watching Livan Hernandez and still do. He has absolutely nothing — just pure slop — and somehow finds a way to retire MLB hitters often enough to keep a job and win a fair amount of games. How? Because in addition to throwing strikes, he does every single thing a pitcher can possibly do to help himself win; Tom Glavine was similar in this way. Livan fields his position, hits, gets bunts down, run the bases intelligently, and uses his head and his competitive spirit to stay in ballgames much longer than pitchers with twice his skill set. I love when he pulls savvy moves such as in the top of the fourth, when he tried to deke Jose Reyes into thinking he wasn’t paying attention to Reyes on third as he covered first base on a groundout. It didn’t fool Reyes enough to produce an out, but it’s that kind of gamesmanship that for me — doing every possible thing in his power to try to win a ballgame — that makes the game that much more enjoyable to watch.

Also, did you notice Livan hesitating just a bit on his safety squeeze, and taking his time to drop his bat and get out of Josh Thole’s way? He was completely within the rules, but was a hair away from interference. He made himself just enough of an obstacle to cause a slight delay in Thole’s pursuit of the ball, giving the baserunner enough time to score before Thole could get the ball and double-back to the plate.

What do you think? Is Livan still holding a grudge against the Mets for dropping him right before he was eligible to pick up his incentive bonus? He seems to turn it up a notch whenever facing the orange and blue.

And while we’re on the subject of Livan, once again Jim Riggleman showed why he is a Major League manager by forcing Drew Storen to close the game. Why Livan was removed when the Mets couldn’t figure him out is mind-boggling. I realize the move worked out for the Nats but that doesn’t necessarily mean it was the right decision.

I’m not sure why anyone would ever throw a pitch anywhere near the strike zone on a first pitch to Rick Ankiel — he swings at the first pitch as a rule, no matter where it is located.

From the little things mean a lot department: in the bottom of the 4th, Ivan Rodriguez was on second base, Hernandez on first, and one out. On a grounder toward the shortstop hole, Pudge was retreating back to second base. The ball went through the hole to the outfield and Pudge couldn’t get past third; the next batter made the third out of the inning. Why Pudge wasn’t running hard to third on the crack of the bat — with the runner forcing him behind him — is anyone’s guess. He must have suffered vapor lock and not realized / remembered there was a runner on first base and therefore he had no choice but to run on a ground ball. That mental error likely cost the Nats a run.

An inning later, with one out Pudge tried to pluck a bunt out of the grass with his bare hand, botched it, didn’t get an out, and the next batter hit a sac fly to score a run. Kids: a catcher should never, ever pick up a bunt with the bare hand unless it has completely stopped; even then, I recommend using a “shovel” technique where you set up your belly button over the ball, your glove side angled toward first base, and collect the ball in the middle of your body by scooping both your glove and your bare hand on either side of it. You have a better chance of picking the ball up cleanly and when you come up, you’ll be in perfect position to make the throw.

Pudge made a THIRD mental error only two minutes after the sac bunt when a throw from Rick Ankiel went up the third base line. Pudge chased it down, then completely ignored the fact that Josh Thole was tagging from second to third; he was a dead duck if Pudge wasn’t sleeping and had thrown the ball to 3B. Dan Murphy struck out to end the inning, but had Thole scored, it would have been the third run against the Nats caused by Rodriguez (two scored, one missed).

From my limited understanding of sabermetrics, there is a theory that the RBI is overrated, and players who are valued because of them (i.e., Joe Carter) are similarly overrated. I submit Jayson Werth, who can’t buy a base hit with RISP.

During the SNY telecast, Keith Hernandez gave an in-depth comparison / contrast of the hitting styles of Dan Murphy and Ike Davis. It was mildly interesting; I think Keith did a better job explaining what Davis is doing. I can’t wait until Keith compares Willie Harris to Chin-lung Hu.

Anyone notice that Ian Desmond was back in the lineup for the Nats, and had two hits, two runs, and an RBI — and the Nats won? I’m not saying he’s an MVP, but his presence made the Nats closer to being a legitimate MLB club. I bring this up for Alan, who questions my understanding of Major League Baseball.

The loss drops the Mets to 11-14 and back in the NL East basement.

Next Mets Game

The Mets begin a three-game weekend series against the Philadelphia Philiies at Citizens Bank Park beginning Friday night at 7:05 PM. Mike Pelfrey faces Vance Worley, who takes the place of the injured Joe Blanton.

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. Steve S. April 29, 2011 at 8:25 am
    I’m still worried about Beltran’s play in RF. That ball should have been caught!
  2. Joe April 29, 2011 at 8:42 am
    You kinda expected that loss & as losses go, it was okay. You have a long winning streak and a series of events leads a close loss with your #5 going against someone who repeatedly befuddles, well that’s okay.

    Hu again did something. Harris, however, after a short period of hitting, looks useless out there. When you kinda hope he was pitch hit for by Hairston at the end of the game, well, you know he isn’t doing well.

    LIvian’s hit in effect led to the winning run, so yeah, he is the whole package. I don’t see him holding a grudge — the Mets was just a waystation for him.

    Murphy didn’t hit — a craft veteran could be the sort that does that to him — but his fielding didn’t seem to cost the team anything, so he remains on the net positive side. A pitcher like Livian, that might be the sort where some slap hitter type might have a better shot though.

  3. Stan April 29, 2011 at 9:19 am
    I agree with Steve S. Nobody seems to be mentioning that fly ball out that Beltran misplayed into a double. That turned out to be the deciding run in this game. It may not have been scored an error, but it certainly was a mistake. Mistakes cost games, and this team can’t afford to lose too many games that could have been won.
    • FrankTaveras April 29, 2011 at 10:47 am
      Does anyone know if that misplayed ball by Beltran figures into UZR? And do Murphy’s boneheaded mental mistakes from earlier in the week play into defensive stats?
  4. gary s. April 29, 2011 at 9:47 am
    Beltran seems to have trouble with quick starts and stops due to his knee problems.He did make a really good catch later in the game.If he continues to hit, he is a plus.What’s the alternatives?Hairston and harris are strikeout machines..
  5. Joe April 29, 2011 at 10:57 am
    Beltran misplaying that ball is part of the game — many outfielders would do something like that, especially when they did not play there that long. You also have to take his record as a whole — his injuries and now more average (he still made a great catch that could have mattered too) skills are part of the whole span of years the team had him.

    Most teams have to make compromises. Middle of the road and bottom tier teams especially.