Mets-Braves Series Wrap-Up

Well that didn’t go all that well. Notes on Mets-Braves after the jump

– Big picture stuff first: The Mets were outscored 24-15 over the three games, so one win out of three is fine considering how the scoring went. On the other hand: The Mets had more total baserunners in the series, 40 to 38. Even during Wednesday’s blowout, the Mets produced as many baserunners, 19, as the Braves despite being outscored by eight runs — the Mets knocked out 14 hits and drew five walks while the Braves knocked out 16 hits and three walks. The Mets even pitched slightly better than Atlanta during the series, but only in an “events separate from fielding” sort of way. Mets pitchers struck out 25, walked eight, and allowed four home runs; the Braves struck out 19, walked 10, and allowed three home runs.

– The Braves took two of three because they hit more doubles and triples, strung their hits together better, and fielded the ball better than the Mets, particularly in the outfield.

– Also they scored more runs than the Mets in two of the three games.

– Dillon Gee and his extra long flavor savor had the best start of the series by default: seven innings, one run, five strikeouts, a walk, and no home runs. Gee’s best moment came in his final inning, after a Jason Heyward double play ground ball was wiped out because of catcher’s interference — Josh Thole’s glove wandered too close to Heyward’s long swing — turning two out and none on into none out and two on. Gee got cooking against the bottom of the Braves’ order. He struck out Eric Hinske, got Jack Wilson to ground out, and then closed out his night with a strikeout of Juan Francisco. Gee attacked Hinkse and Francisco with low curveballs and changeups before going up the ladder with fastballs, blowing low 90s heat past both for the strikeouts. He went after a double play with Wilson, going with low changeups and ultimately getting a soft ground ball back to the mound. After the null double play, Gee looked liked a ticked off pitcher with a plan and a coonskin tail glued to his face. Impressive performance.

– Johan Santana pitched about as awfully on Tuesday as he has pitched with the Mets. No home runs, one walk, no strikeouts and four outs recorded, the Braves’ hitters played inside the park pinball and the Mets’ fielders served as flippers and lightup bumpers. Santana couldn’t control his fastball or changeup, and everything the Braves put their bats on was hit hard. Santana received little aid from his defense — Jason Bay dropped a liner and Ike Davis threw a bunt to the tarp along the third base line — but the Braves were all over Santana’s offerings right from the start. Hopefully this was a case of new Santana having poor feel for his pitches, and not a case of a team figuring out new Santana when seeing him for the second time.

– R.A. Dickey couldn’t throw his knuckleball in the rain. He messed around, tried throwing some harder and some softer, but couldn’t get it working once the rain came down. Kudos to Dickey for giving the Mets four and a third innings with no bullets, less kudos for allowing eight runs and three home runs along the way. After 14 straight quality starts, he’s entitled to a dud.

– The Braves lineup looks way better with a functioning Jason Heyward and animatronic Country Bear Chipper Jones. Atlanta has as much if-everything-goes-right talent as any team in the NL East.

– Ike Davis, the hero in Monday’s game, continues to come in fits and spurts. Here’s the Mets’ series highlight: Sixth inning, with two out and Ruben Tejada on second, the Braves walked David Wright, letting Tommy Hanson go after Davis. Hanson threw Davis five straight curveballs, Hanson’s usual serving to Davis. Only this time Davis lined Hanson’s fifth curve into the right field seats. Davis also homered off Jair Jurrjens in Wednesday’s dreary nightmare, making for three in four games. He’s running into pitches now and then, but the singles aren’t falling in yet.

– The Braves, particularly with Brian McCann catching, can get a little cute when something is working against a hitter. Hanson’s curve gives Davis the heebie-jeebies, but five pitches in a row to any major league hitter is pushing it. Same thing for David Wright: The Braves didn’t bother coming up and in every once in a while just to keep Wright honest. Away, away, away, a little too obvious with their approach.

– Dan Uggla is so, so perfect for what he is. I like to make fun of him, but please Mr. Uggla, don’t ever change.

– David Wright saw something new on Tuesday and Wednesday: The Braves over-shifted their infield to the left side, putting second baseman Dan Uggla behind the second base base, and the pitchers started attacking Wright away, fastballs, changeups, sliders, everything on the outer half or in the opposite batter’s box. Wright still has that hole on the outside corner, and he swung through fastballs on the black or hit them up the middle at the shifted second baseman. With men on, Wright also started chasing breaking balls and changeups near that corner. After striking out two times in his first seven games, he struck out three times in the past two. Seems like we’ll see other teams going after Wright the same way until he adjusts.

– But Wright also went 4-10 with a double on Tuesday and Wednesday against the Braves’ new strategy. If a pitcher misses that outside corner, Wright’s gonna get it.

– Kirk Nieuwenhuis and Josh Thole reached base 12 times and scored eight of the Mets’ 15 runs. Nieuwenhuis is doing a bit of everything, hitting, running, laxing, and playing a decent center field. He’s also avoided that initial breaking the ice period that sometimes overwhelms young players, but that second adjustment period, when the league first figures him out, is still lurking. Thole, meanwhile, has reached base by hit or walk every game he’s played this season. Nieuwenhuis and Thole, your 2012 Mets’ offense, ladies and gentlemen.

– Lucas Duda is taking a lot of oh-fors and is an early front runner for the anti-Gold Glove in right field. The Braves’ pitchers changed eye levels with Duda, moving up and down the ladder, and it seemed to be working. Meanwhile, the Braves’ hitters looked to take extra bases on anything hit in Duda’s direction — Jason Heyward lined a ball down the right field line and was still running with a full head of steam at third base on his triple. Duda’s not fast and he doesn’t get great reads. He can really fix only one of those.

– Jason Bay was less than awful. His Jack Wilson home run takeaway nullified at least two of his three miscatches in other games, and at the plate, Bay drew two walks against his two strikeouts and added three hits, one of them a home run. Give him until the middle of May?

– Let’s watch that again:

– I can’t remember Daniel Murphy doing a single thing this series, good or bad, so . . . good job Murph? The box scores say four hits, a walk, and no errors.

– Ditto for Ruben Tejada — no memory of anything but his double on Monday — but he gets an A+ just for being Ruben Tejada.

– I mean, his name is Dan Uggla! Uggla! It’s like he’s a character from a poorly authored baseball novel!

– I’m not sure why both Ronny Cedeno and Justin Turner are on the team. Turner’s value comes from being able to play up the middle and kind of hit. Cedeno’s value comes from playing up the middle well. But neither is a corner infielder, and if Cedeno’s going to take all those starts on the middle infield, the Mets would be better off with a stronger bat than Turner’s to play at first and third.

– The bullpen . . . actually wasn’t bad as it seemed. The three runs the relievers allowed on Tuesday came over 7.1 innings, which is decent for 7.1 innings of long relief. Even on Wednesday, four of the six bullpen runs came from Tim Byrdak mopping up against righties and Frank Francisco getting work during a blow out. Ramon Ramirez has been the only regular stinky pitcher, fighting with his command. Everyone else has been merely up and down. Again, the outfield defense isn’t helping anyone.

– Basically, the bullpen has thus far turned blowouts into blowouts with wider margins, but held the score whenever a game has been on the line.

– Six days ago, someone offers you 3-3 against the Phillies and Braves on the road, with the Mets catching Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels, Tommy Hanson, Vance Whorley, Jair Jurrjens and Randall Delgado. You take it, right?

The Mets return home with the San Francisco Giants up next. Preview coming later today.

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2 Comments

Filed under Columns, Mets, Words

2 responses to “Mets-Braves Series Wrap-Up

  1. Prior to the season, I’d be almost ecstatic 3-3 against the Phils and ATL.

    As usual, the Mets probably aren’t as good as their 7-3 start seemed, and the probably aren’t as bad as their last two blowouts seemed.

    While Johan and RA had putrid starts, at least RA’s came with good reason (and like you pointed out, he deserves a mulligan or two), and Johan at least as far as we know is still healthy. If Johan’s arm doesn’t fall off and RA can avoid torrential rains, I feel pretty good that we won’t see starts this bad from them again. Pretty big ifs, but still….

    Dillon Gee’s 7-inning, 1-run starts might not be sustainable long term, but I think he could produce a handful more of them as the season goes on. I mean when you look at his peripherals in the high minors, it surely suggests that his early Major League walk rates will come down.

    I don’t think that up-and-away pitching to Wright seems new. Seems to me every team was doing it to him since 2010. He’s at least hammering the mistakes that wander over the plate now, which wasn’t happening much in 2010, and seemingly not at all in 2011.

    • Patrick Flood

      Right. It’s not a new approach for pitching to Wright, but it’s new as in it’s the first time we’ve seen it this season.

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