Thursday, May 24, 2007

Unhappy Recap: Braves 2 Mets 1

The difference in this game was Glavine's steadfast refusal to throw strikes, compared to Smoltz getting ahead of practically every hitter.

It started in the first inning for Glavine. Kelly Johnson singled to lead off the game, then Glavine started Martin Prado with two straight balls. Prado singled on a 3-2 count. It really should have been an error on Delgado. He tried to backhand the ball and it went right under his glove. Horrible play, he could have gotten in front of it, it wasn't hit that hard.

Renteria was the next batter and Glavine started him 3-0, maybe he was pissed at Delgado's ole (accent on the e) bullshit. For some reason Renteria swung at the 3-0 pitch and grounded out creating a second and third for Francoeur.

Glavine came back and started Francoeur with two strikes. Now Francoeur is a noted free swinger, but instead of giving him something he could chase, Glavine threw two pitches that weren't even close. After 5 foul balls (one of which broke his bat, cool photo below), he hit a sacrifice fly. Glavine started Andruw with a 3-0 count and walked him, but got McCann to avoid further damage.

cool picture of a broken bat

Matt Diaz led off the second with a home run on a 2-0 count. After that Glavine was really good. Even though he had 2-0 counts on 7 other hitters (11 total) over the next four innings he avoided trouble. For the sake of comparison Smoltz went 2-0 on only two hitters (in his 7 innings) and got them both out. Of 110 pitches in 6 innings Glavine threw 49 balls. Of 101 pitches in 7 innings Smoltz threw 29 balls.

But it wasn't like the Mets didn't have their chances against Smoltz.

In the third, Glavine reached on a high chopper, with one out. Reyes blooped a single to left, after forcing the count full from 0-2. Endy struck out, then Beltran loaded the bases on another high chop that went for an infield hit. Then came the key jucture in the game. Wright was down 0-2 when he reached for a pitch low and away. The first base umpire said he went around and Wright was furious. He threw his bat and helmet and the umpire signaled for a fine. It was the maddest I've ever seen Wright. And Wright was right. The call was terrible. They showed in on SNY from the overhead camera and it wasn't even close, the head of the bat never reached 180 degrees. Just brutal.

In the fourth inning, LoDuca singled and stole second. It was his first stolen base in almost a year but a smart play because they weren't holding him on. Delgado flied out, Green advanced the runner to third and then Gotay ripped one into the hole between first and second but Kelly Johnson made a great play to stop it, and throw Gotay out. Should have been a single and a run. The Braves made a couple really good plays in the field in this game. SNY actually added the run to the Mets total on the top of the screen when they went to break. When they came back it was 2-0 again.

After that the pitchers dominated for several innings, Glavine settled in and encouragingly the Mets two worst relievers, Schoeneweis and Heilman both pitched hitless innings, Heilman only needed 5 pitches.

In the 7th Green and Gotay singled with one out but Newhan grounded into a force and Reyes made out with two on and two out.

In the 8th after Beltran walked, Rafael Soriano went 2-0 on Wright. Then he blew two fastballs right by him. Made Wright look silly. Wright then struck out for the third time.

Delgado led off the 9th with a single to left. I love to see him go the other way in late game situations when the Mets just need a base runner. It's not like he's been hitting for power anyway, plus down two runs he needs to get on, so he took advantage of the shift. Hopefully, a few cheap hits will break him out of his slump. Then the Mets got a break. Kelly Johnson made an error on a weak grounder by Green. It was an easy double play ball but he rushed it and got neither man out.

Now Willie was in a familiar situation, one he faced in the 9th inning of the 7th Game of the NLCS. I'm sure you remember. In both cases the Mets were down 2 runs with nobody out and runners on first and second. Last time he pinch hit Cliff Floyd and let him swing away. That was the right move, even though it didn't work out.

This time he had Ruben Gotay bunt. Here is why bunting is a bad decision in this spot. You need one hit to tie the game in either circumstance but if you bunt you are giving yourself two chances to get it, instead of three. The argument against bunting is that if you get another hit you won't necessarily score both runs. That is true, but you have to count on one of your first two batters to advance the runners with an out (while avoiding a double play), or your second two batters getting the second run home with an out. Also you have the chance of a double, or a home run. And in addition to giving you three chances for one hit, swinging away gives you a much better shot at winning the game instead of settling for a tie and extra innings.

By no means will swinging away work every time, nor will bunting fail every time. But I believe to increase your odds of winning, you should let your hitters hit.

I make that argument in a vacuum, so getting back to this situation, Gotay was up and he is a weak hitter, but I don't believe that should change things. If you don't have confidence in him he shouldn't be on the team.

Which leads me to the next point of contention. Willie used Julio Franco instead of Damion Easley after Gotay's sacrifice. I wouldn't have a problem with the move either way. You can say Easley's been hitting better, true. You can say Easley is 20 years younger, true. You can say Easley has been playing everyday, true. But Franco is more used to coming off the bench as a pinch hitter, and if he can't be used in this spot, then he shouldn't be on the team.

Franco grounded out (another high chopper) which drove in one run, but then Reyes popped out to end the game.

A few notes:

Reyes had 16 RBI in the first 17 games, and only 7 in the last 29 games. He was on fire with runners in scoring position early on, but has cooled off drastically since then. He's not an RBI guy so it's hard to get too worked up over this, but one of his best attributes was his ability to get RBI from the lead off spot, he had 81 last year.

The Mets are now 3-6 against the Braves this year. 3-0 when Oliver Perez pitches, 0-6 when anyone else does. The Mets can still win the division by doing better against all the other teams, but I'd feel a lot more confident if the Mets could beat them a couple times.

The Mets have lost 4 series this year, 3 to the Braves. All three came down to a rubber game. The Mets led 2-1 in the first one and Heilman blew it. The second one was another Glavine-Smoltz matchup. Glavine left with a 6-3 lead, then Schoeneweis allowed the game-tying three run homer and Heilman (again) gave up the game losing three run homer. So the Mets could have won all three series with a little luck.

This was the Mets first loss on a Thursday this year.

John Smoltz got his 200th win. First pitcher to ever beat the Mets for win #200 or #300. Tom Glavine did not get win #296.

With the Mets, Tom Glavine is 3-11 against the Braves with a 4.76 ERA, over 18 starts.

On May 23, 2002, Shawn Green went 6 for 6 in a game with 4 home runs.

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Anonymous Reissberg said...

Easley is actually pretty old (37), although still 11 years younger than Father Time.

Friday, May 25, 2007 6:59:00 AM  

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