Mets Game 125: Loss To Braves
Braves 4 Mets 1
Just for the record: the first-base umpire did not throw the game-winning gopher ball. Further, he did not go 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position.
Mets Game Notes
Jonathon Niese pitched as well as could be expected, striking out 9 and allowing one run on 5 hits and 3 walks in 7 efficient innings (106 pitches). In this outing I saw from Niese a rarity: some of the time, particularly in the first 3-4 frames, there was a clear delineation between the release-point arm angles for the cutter, fastball, and curve. On the one hand, there are a few outstanding hitters who can pick up on that and know what’s coming. On the other hand, it’s the only way Niese can throw both an effectively breaking, 12-6 curve and an effective cutter in the same game — and most hitters won’t pick up the difference in arm angles. As has been the case throughout his career, Niese’s motion gradually became a product of his repertoire — i.e., the cutter, a pitch he used as his primary weapon during this ballgame. The slight over-rotation habit he falls into (and fell into as the game wore on), combined with his damaged and fatigued shoulder, was the reason he broke Jason Heyward‘s jaw in the sixth inning. By over-rotating and being a hair slow with his arm speed, his left arm was a bit behind his body, the release was premature, and the ball flew unexpectedly up and in. He threw a few more pitches toward that spot after the HBP in the 6th and 7th, including fastballs that dipped to 88 MPH; it was a sign of fatigue.
Niese was strong through seven innings, though, and it’s hard to argue with success. Short-term results usually outweigh long-term health. He retired the Braves batters with a steady diet of cutters, using the fastball and curve as occasional “show” pitches to keep them honest. Velocity on the cutter was in the 88-89 range, and the fastball was anywhere from 89 to 91, with a handful of 93-MPH pops.
Daniel Murphy and Terry Collins were tossed from the game in the fateful tenth for sharing their opinion of first-base umpire Jerry Layne’s safe call on a Freddie Freeman infield hit. The replays proved that the call was wrong — though, it was damn close, and seriously, I can’t fault the ump on that one. Seen objectively, it could’ve gone either way when judged in real-time. Seen from a Mets’ fan’s point-of-view, it was a horrible call that made Don Denkinger look brilliant. But seriously, it was really, really close.
And before anyone points directly to that call as the reason the Mets lost the game, I’d like to point out a similarly close call at second base in the the fourth inning, when Andrelton Simmons was called out trying to stretch a single into a double. Juan Lagares made an absolutely brilliant play to cut down Simmons — but I’m not 100% convinced he was definitely tagged out in time. Daniel Murphy’s glove and Simmons’ hand met the second base bag at exactly the same time. The replays weren’t entirely conclusive from my living room chair — though you may disagree. However, that play happened in the fourth inning, when there was no drama. Yet, it was another play that could’ve gone either way in real-time, and the brilliance of Lagares to make a throw that beat the runner may have played into the out call. What if Simmons is safe there? Then it’s one out and a man on second. Maybe the Braves don’t score there — Niese was dealing, after all — but you never know.
Oh and by the way, Freeman’s comebacker that went off Scott Rice‘s glove was scored a hit. You know where I stand on that one.
So, I own a Cincinnati Reds “Janish” T-shirt, but can’t find an Atlanta Braves companion. Go figure. Let me know if you spot one, as I need to continue the collection.