Mets Game 91: Loss to Nationals

Nationals 4 Mets 3

So much for team meetings.

Mets Game Notes

Chris Young pitched fairly well; well enough to lose, unfortunately. He allowed two earned runs in six innings, which is about as good a start as you can expect. As usual, he knocked down the pins the first two times through the order, but the dam broke during the third time around. I wonder if too much is being made of this, because my guess is that the majority of MLB pitchers experience a similar fate. Young kept the “fast” ball up in the zone, just high enough to create missed swings and popups. The Nationals didn’t have trouble making contact — he allowed six hits — but he induced two DP balls to erase baserunners.

Tyler Clippard is suddenly prone to the homerun ball, and to the punch-and-judy Mets hitters, no less. He allowed three Mets homers in the span of seven batters faced between this game and the first of the series. Not terribly surprising, considering he keeps his fastball right around chest high, over the middle of the plate, with very little movement. If not for a Mario Soto -like changeup, he’d get lit up like a pinball machine (see: Bobby Parnell).

Putting aside any allegiance to the Mets, and looking at this game purely as a baseball fan, I find myself mesmerized by Bryce Harper. He reminds me — a lot — of George Brett, who is my favorite hitter of all-time (and you thought it was Joel Youngblood). As great, future HOF hitters have advanced into their final years, I would make sure to drop everything and watch their at-bats — guys like Brett, Don Mattingly, Wade Boggs, Tony Gwynn, and Rod Carew (yes, I think Donnie Baseball is a HOFer). I also dropped everything to watch intelligent but not-quite HOFers like Rusty Staub, because I felt there was something to be learned. This is the second time in my life — Darryl Strawberry was the first — that I’ve dropped everything to watch a rookie hit. With Strawberry, it was in anticipation of seeing something absolutely astonishing and/or dramatic. With Harper, it’s more like Staub, Mattingly, or Brett — I want to see how he approaches, analyzes, develops, and commands an at-bat. Because that’s what Bryce Harper does — he intensely analyzes every single pitch and shoves it into his memory bank for immediate use. You can almost see the wheels turning inside his head as the pitch is coming in. Combined with that data collected is an absolutely perfectly balanced, powerful swing, a controlled aggressiveness, and confidence. Maybe he just happens to be in “the zone” right now; if he’s not, I think we’re seeing the real-life version of Roy Hobbs.

As you know, I put a lot of stock into body language and facial expression. That said, contrast the presence of Harper vs. that of Jason Bay. I know Bay hit a bomb (finally!) in the ninth, but Bay’s body language was and has been awful. His eyes are darting around after every pitch he sees, suggesting that he’s searching his mind for an answer to a question in his head. When I see that, I know a batter is confused about what’s happening, and/or is not sure he’s capable of executing. Throughout Bay’s tenure with the Mets, he’s had that dazed look, and been tentative. The homer he hit seemed like an accident; though homeruns often are accidents, you don’t want to look like it was an accident — you know what I mean? When Bay was in Pittsburgh and Boston, I remember him having more confidence, more swagger, and more focus. Maybe I’m misremembering in which case I’m full of crap — but the results of a player often correlate to the overall level of confidence he exhibits.

Miguel Batista came out of the bullpen to give the Nats insurance runs. Does that mean he doesn’t start on Saturday? Was it Terry Collins‘ way of forcing the Matt Harvey issue? Hmm ….

Jordany Valdespin did NOT hit a dramatic homerun in the ninth inning — WTF?

During a postgame interview with SNY, Miguel Batista stated that “the Mets are better than the Nationals, and we’ll see in October.” Norman Vincent Peale would be proud.

Next Mets Game

Mets look to avoid the sweep on Thursday afternoon. Game time is 12:35 p.m. and pits Cy Young candidates R.A. Dickey and Gio Gonzalez. Due to my “real job,” I will not be posting a game recap until later in the evening, though I may set up an open thread for you to post your in-game and immediate post-game comments.

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. DaveSchneck July 18, 2012 at 10:46 pm
    46-45. WTF? Unfortunately, agree with your take on thhe boy wonder which spells years of misery for Mets, Larry is finally leaving and we get Bryce. Swell.
    • Joe Janish July 18, 2012 at 11:06 pm
      Funny you mention Larry, because he’s another guy who I’ve been stopping everything to watch (since last year). And it seems like he’s passing the torch to Freddie. On the optimistic side, maybe Brandon Nimmo will turn out to be as great as the Mets think he’ll be.
      • gary s. July 19, 2012 at 8:32 am
        Joe, Let’s hope he is better than Steve Chilcott
      • gary s. July 19, 2012 at 8:33 am
        Another loss or 2 and the Wilpons will throw a party that we won’t have to be buyers and spend any money.
  2. NormE July 18, 2012 at 11:13 pm
    Is it a coincidence that Brett, Mattingly, Boggs, Gwynn, Carew, Staub and Harper are all left-handed hitters?
    • Joe Janish July 19, 2012 at 9:06 am
      huh, never thought about it. Probably is a coincidence.

      The one RH hitter I stopped everything for was Manny Ramirez; can’t think of too many others off the top of my head.

      • Crozier July 19, 2012 at 9:46 am
        Surely you stopped everything when Kingman was batting. Shoot, I bet you stopped everything when a pop fly was hit to the first base side.
        • Joe Janish July 19, 2012 at 5:56 pm
          You have me there. Kingman was the ONLY hitter to watch during most of both of his tenures in Flushing. Thanks for the reminder!
    • Mike Kelm July 19, 2012 at 10:28 am
      I’m going to go with yet, it is coincidence, or more precisely off the cuff thinking. Guys like Pujols, Piazza, Manny Ramirez, Frank Thomas, A-Rod, Bo Jackson and earlier Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, and Celemente were/are all right handed hitters who at their peaks were must watch hitters. Each of these guys seemed to either have the potential to hit a massive home run or get a perfectly timed clutch hit more often than not.
      • Joe Janish July 19, 2012 at 5:59 pm
        Thanks for reminding me about Big Hurt and Bo, I usually made sure not to miss their at-bats.

        Willie and Hammerin’ Hank also, though that was more about my dad pulling out of the sandbox and stationing me in front of the TV; I was under 5 when they retired, so don’t have clear recollection .

  3. SiddFinch July 19, 2012 at 12:08 am
    This is the first real bad stretch of the season. Is it a bump in the road or the beginning of the end? Well, if Dickey is truly a Cy Young candidate and our ace, the losing streak ends tomorrow. I believe it will.
  4. Crozier July 19, 2012 at 9:43 am
    Bright spots for sure. Close game, great effort at the end, Bay 2-4 with a homer, Wright still MVP-worthy, Edgin an entire third of an inning without incident, Rauch looking like his good former self…well, okay, it mostly ends there (hard to win games with your 1-2 hitters 0-8).

    But one more thing: lay off Young, will you? He allows two runs and you liken it to a flood? Pelfrey’s replacement’s replacement consistently throws 6 to 7 innings and allows 2 to 3 runs; with average run support and not-horrible relief he wins 4 or 5 of his 8 starts. This from — prior to Gee’s getting hurt — a number 5 starter.That’s what any team wants from that role: someone who gives you a very decent chance to win games. Young’s accomplished that.

    • Joe Janish July 19, 2012 at 6:04 pm
      Floods are not always the result of a dam breaking; sometimes it’s just a minor leak. But, I’ll be more careful with my choice of words in the future — if you envisioned a flood from that image then I’m sure others did as well.

      Still, was I really being hard on Young? I thought I was kinda, sorta, defending him with my point on pitchers going through a lineup three times. Other than aces and most #2 starters, how many pitchers are effective the third time through a lineup?