Mets Game 89: Loss to Pirates

Pirates 3 Mets 2

Mets come up short in extras, despite pulling out all the stops.

Mets Game Notes

Jeremy Hefner continues to pitch at an unexpected level; he’s quietly been one of the top starting pitchers in the NL over the past month. He made one egregious mistake in the first frame to Pedro Alvarez, and that was ultimately the difference in the ballgame.

Shame for Hefner, who pitched brilliantly yet again, and came away with a no-decision.

Terry Collins‘ pitching management was baffling. He removed Hefner after 7 innings and only 78 pitches in a tie ballgame. Why? When your starter is dominating the opposition, and it’s a tie game, you keep him in there and let him keep rolling — especially when on the road, because preventing a run / runs takes precedence over scoring runs due to the opposition’s advantage of “last licks.”

But beyond that, there is the matter of Saturday’s starting pitcher — Carlos Torres, who has not made a MLB start since 2010 and has been pitching out of the bullpen for the past month. Granted, he started a dozen times for Las Vegas and averaged about 6 innings per start. But he hasn’t been stretched out since mid-June, and, unless he’s been throwing 80+ pitches once every 5 days in bullpen sessions — which I doubt highly — then he’s likely lost much of that “stretched-outedness” (for lack of a better term). Throwing shape is somewhat similar to running shape; if you are running, say, 5 miles three times a week, and then you stop for a month, it’s going to be difficult to get right back up to 5 miles again — you’ll likely be able to run only 2.5 to 3 miles before fatiguing. Sticking with that very loose comparison, you can’t expect Torres to give more than four or five innings in his start. Maybe if he’s incredibly efficient, he can go six. But you can’t expect that; as a manager, you have to prepare for the worst. In other words, preserve bullpen arms as much as possible in preparation. And when you have a starter mowing ’em down like Hefner was in this ballgame, well, it’s like a gift falling from the sky.

But removing Hefner at an illogical point was only the beginning. When the Bucs mounted a threat in the bottom of the ninth, Collins burned through four pitches to get three outs. Again, in a tie ballgame, which meant he’d have to push one-out specialist Josh Edgin through an inning and a third, and he’d have to use his sole long man Gonzalez Germen — who by the way was making his MLB debut. Collins was managing like it was the seventh game of the World Series, with no tomorrow with which to be concerned. Yet the reality was that tomorrow could be a long, arduous day for the bullpen. Did Collins know something we didn’t? i.e., did he know that Sandy Alderson would be sending him another arm from the minors for the weekend?

As it turned out, Germen pitched decently, but gave up the winning run and was charged with the loss. On the bright side — as far as I’m concerned — Rutherford, NJ’s own Vin Mazzaro picked up the victory, his fifth of 2013. Vin spent many, many hours training and learning at Akadema’s ProPlayer Academy in the old Yoo-Hoo factory in Garfield, NJ (and later, in the new facility in Hawthorne, NJ) — where I’ve been a part-time instructor for the past decade and watched him develop over the years (no, I can’t take credit for his pitching prowess — he worked with excellent full-time instructors). So don’t hate me for being happy about seeing Vin pitch well and get the win. Vin’s a great, great kid.

Next Mets Game

The Mets and Pirates do it again at 7:15 PM on Saturday night. Carlos Torres takes the ball against former Mets farmhand A.J. Burnett.

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. Dan42 July 13, 2013 at 6:15 am
    Collins had me scratching my head when he hit for Hefner, a move that had a 70% chance of failure and set up the four pitcher 9th. More mind boggling was the Mets’ illustrious TV booth pitching for Collins to be extended during the ASB for the great job he has done.

    Fell asleep before Vin got in the game, just turned on the SNY encore but it’s only the first inning so I’ll have to wait 3 hours to see the end.

    • ben c July 13, 2013 at 9:44 am
      Totally agree, Dan. They didn’t hold back with their praise, did they?
      • Dan42 July 13, 2013 at 12:06 pm
        No hold back whatsoever, and for insult to injury the SNY encore skipped the top of the 11th, so I missed Vin earning the win.
  2. Dan42 July 13, 2013 at 10:05 pm
    Judging by today’s game it would appear that Joe’s concerns were dead on, too bad the SNY team isn’t doing the telecast and explaining how last nights Collins’ miscues effected tonight’s game.

    And Ike looks really, really bad, bat and glove.