Mets Game 10: Win Over Braves

Mets 6 Braves 1

With only 152 games to play, the Mets are really putting the pressure on the NL-leading Nationals, this time plowing over the third-place Braves to remain a mere half-game out of first place.

Mets Game Notes

Dillon Gee gave the Mets seven strong innings, allowing only one run and working his way out of a few minor difficulties with aplomb. Not much more you can ask from a #5 starter. Was Mike Pelfrey taking notes? If not, he should have been.

Gee threw many more curves than we’re used to seeing, with somewhat mixed results. Several hung and were hit hard, but luckily, right at people. Still, I liked seeing the breaking ball used frequently, as it “sped up” his fastball, keeping the Braves batters off balance. I also liked Gee’s tempo — he worked quickly and with purpose, especially after getting a lead.

Gee had a weird thing going on every once in a while where he’d get under the ball on his fastball and it would fly up and away to a lefty hitter. He did it only a handful of times but it was enough that it gave me pause. Then I noticed that he had a similarly low arm angle on his curveball. Now I’m wondering if he changes his arm angles significantly enough that opposing batters can notice and get an idea of what’s on the way — i.e., “telegraphing” his pitches. Further, is that low elbow going to cause an arm injury? It may be a minor issue but something to keep an eye on nonetheless.

Nice to see Gee helping himself with two perfect sac bunts. He’s the kind of pitcher who has to do everything other than pitching well, and he does. He’s not just a pitcher, but a ballplayer.

I know I’ve referenced this before, but I have no idea how Tommy Hanson has gone this far without some kind of an arm injury. His arm motion is violent and ALL of the brunt of deceleration is on his arm — why no one ever showed him how to use the larger muscles of his body as “brakes” to slow down his arm is mind-boggling and a travesty. Though, maybe there is something he is doing to take off the pressure that I’m missing; I haven’t looked at him in super slo-mo video yet.

Ruben Tejada keeps driving the ball with authority and hitting doubles — he leads the league in two-baggers. Does he know he’s not supposed to be doing that?

David Wright has been on base twice in a game for seven straight games. FWIW, no Met has ever done that over that many games at the start of a season. An impressive stat, but how do they come up with this stuff?

In the “barely noticeable” department, Brian McCann did a fabulous job of stopping very sharp, hard-breaking curves in the dirt from Hanson, particularly with runners on third base. Not an easy thing to do. But, he did get eaten alive on a nasty slider in the dirt in the 7th that allowed Josh Thole to score from third for the Mets’ fifth run.

While on the subject of Hanson’s curves, he hung one — the fourth one in a row to Ike Davis, and Davis demolished it into the right field seats to give the Mets a lead they’d never lose. In general, Ike still doesn’t look great at the plate, but he’s certainly doing a fabulous job of making pitchers pay for mistakes.

Jason Bay hit a booming homerun over the centerfield fence in the ninth off of Livan Hernandez. Seems Bay and Ike Davis can only hit homers this year.

Bay also made a spectacular leaping catch over the wall to rob Jack Wilson of his first hit and first homerun of the season. Remember what I said yesterday about Pete Orr? Wilson is another one of those 70s style middle infielders, though at least he has one tool — defense. I’d liken him to Mark Belanger.

Speaking of the 70s, once again I have to say that every game thus far makes me feel like I’m in a time machine. I’m not sure if it’s the Mets or the NL in general, but to me it feels like a three-run (or more) lead is insurmountable. And I mean that no matter how early in the game that lead is extended. We’re seeing good pitching an powerless singles hitting on both sides — lots of station-to-station “rallies” with extra-base hits an exciting rarity. Maybe it’s a function of being early in the season and pitchers being ahead of hitters, or maybe it’s a sign of what’s to come. In any case, it’s a far cry from the Nintendo baseball bombs-away days of the PEDs era, and warmly welcomed by this fan. Suddenly, the “little things” have significance once again.

Next Mets Game

The Mets and Braves meet again at 7:10 p.m. on Tuesday night. Johan Santana goes to the hill against Randall Delgado.

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. argonbunnies April 17, 2012 at 2:07 am
    Gee was getting under his change-up too, causing a few to tail instead of sink. He hardly threw one all night that moved down the way it usually does. I hope everything’s okay in that frayed labrum…

    Gee is my favorite Met to watch in terms of pitch selection. When he’s nailing that part of his game, I’d say his stuff is good enough to be an above-average pitcher. His outing today would have looked even better if the ump had given him an inch off the outside corner, which he was consistently hitting with his curve.

    Although I loved watching him alternate 4-seamers, sinkers, curves, change-ups, and I think one slider, he stayed away pretty much all day. That can’t work forever; I hope he goes back inside more in his next start. Lee, Hamels and Bastardo seemed to go up and in at will on our lefties; I’d like to see us try that more.

  2. DaveSchneck April 17, 2012 at 8:29 am
    Only 10 games, but terrific starting pitching and timely big flies go a long way towards changing the complexion of a ballclub. Speed is nice but usually overrated, and it’s definitely not necessary on home run trots. Despite the batting averages, the 3-6 are starting to show that they can and will make pitchers pay for mistakes, in big spots, and it’s nice to see (for a change).
  3. Steven April 17, 2012 at 9:50 am
    Joe. Watching Ike on defense convinces me that his absence last year probably cost us a handful of games. We’re you surprised that Gee went for the high heat in the seventh rather than his change up to get out of the jam?
    • Joe Janish April 19, 2012 at 10:49 am
      Don’t try to make that argument with the statheads, who will be quick to point out that Daniel Murphy and Nick Evans have a great UZR at 1B.

      I was not shocked to see Gee go with the high heat at that point, because he had been pitching backward all game (using junk to set up fastball) and he likely knew that he wouldn’t be pitching in the 8th so why not air it out?

  4. Joe April 17, 2012 at 10:34 am
    A key moment of the game was after Thole’s catcher’s interference. Gee got out of a jam and ended strong.

    Bay stealing that home run helped too. He is a vet presence in the OF and it is reassuring. He might be a nice part of the team if he wasn’t being paid a salary not fit for someone with his batting average. Oh well.

  5. MikeT April 18, 2012 at 10:00 am
    Couple of points. On scoring being down, specifically the Mets have faced the Braves, Nationals, and Phillies… all of them are weak hitting teams. Most of the National League hitting is down, unless you are the Cardinals or Dodgers. Lots of good hitters keep relocating to the AL where the DH can extend their careers. This will not stop anytime soon.

    On Hanson, I thought he did have arm troubles last year, and instead of surgery he did rehab. That does not bode well for him. Not without fixing his mechanics. He is one of the reasons I am down on the Braves this year, no way he lasts the season.

    And Finally I want to reminisce about a time when Joe compared Ruben Tejada to Anderson Hernandez. Not an unfair comparison at the time. Joe, do you still feel that Tejada is a light hitting utility infielder, or have you come around on him? Not too many 22 year olds starting at SS in the bigs, with a few seasons under his belt already, that do not have good careers. I think I read that he has a 50/50 shot at being an All-Star at least once in his career based on his age and experience.