Mets Game 64: Win Over Rays
Mets 9 Rays 6
Twenty-nine runs scored in a three-game series against the best pitching in MLB. Did anyone see frogs falling from the sky?
Mets Game Notes
Johan Santana “earned” the victory but he didn’t pitch well. Remember all of those games when he pitched well but the Mets gave him no offensive support? This game was karma, balancing things out. Santana struggled with his command all day; to me it looked like his arm was lagging behind on the fastball and his elbow was dropping slightly on the change-up. As a result, his fastball was flat and high — generally, belly-button level to eye level (or higher). That arm angle worked well for his change-up, however, as it was a dying quail as it approached the plate, and as a result was getting many swings and misses. As good as the change-up was, a non-knuckleball pitcher can’t last very long if the fastball is failing. Santana’s heater was hit hard when it was in the strike zone. As a result, Santana allowed ten baserunners in five innings (6 hits, 4 walks) — and that’s awful.
Santana was throwing a “get me over” slider, which is something I’m no used to seeing from him. Like his change-up and occasionally on the fastball, it looked to me as though his arm angle and elbow was dropping just a bit — though, my eyes could have been off. When he wasn’t throwing the high slider, he was burying the slider in the dirt.
As poorly as Santana pitched, the Rays’ Jeremy Hellickson was much worse. This was the third or fourth time I’ve seen Hellickson pitch, and I’ve yet to see him pitch well (just lucky, I guess). He reminds me of the Braves’ Tommy Hanson, in that he throws all arm and doesn’t use his legs and trunk to decelerate — which is a terrible plan for a pitcher. All of the strain of slowing down the arm is placed on the arm, which means a shoulder and/or elbow problem is in the pitcher’s future. Hellickson has a very easy, casual style, but that doesn’t mean it’s good or healthy — it just means that it looks good.
In the third inning, Keith Hernandez made a big stink about a pickoff throw by Santana, insisting that Ike Davis needed to move toward the ball. As it turned out, Davis made a wild throw and the runner reached second safely, and eventually scored. Keith’s argument was two-pronged: first, that by moving toward the ball, Ike would have gotten to the ball more quickly; second, that the angle for the throw to 2B would have been more advantageous and less likely to result in a wild throw. I’m with Keith on the latter, but not on the former. A human being cannot move his/her body to a baseball faster than a ball can travel from a Major League pitcher. Even if Santana threw only 65-70 MPH on the pickoff, it’s still a faster play if Ike stays back and gets his body into throwing position. And that’s the key — if Ike is moving toward the ball, he has to stop his momentum and shift his weight back on his left foot after catching the ball. Taking the angle issue out of the equation, it would be faster to wait for the ball with the weight on the left / back foot, then quickly catch and throw to 2B in one motion (rather than stopping and shifting). But, as Keith pointed out, the angle of the throw would be better if Ike moved toward the ball, because the runner would not be in the way.
Did we waste enough time on that?
Again, I have to ask: what the heck is going on with these Mets, with their bashing the best pitching in baseball? Fluke?
Speaking of Ike Davis, he had two more hits, a walk, and two RBI. Still, his hits are going to RF — he’s a dead pull hitter. Does it matter? Maybe not.
Another dead pull hitter, Jason Bay, blasted his fourth homerun of the season. I watched his swing ten times (thank you, DVR) and I can’t tell if he was fooled or if he recognized Hellickson’s change-up and jumped on it. Either way, it counts.