Once again, that didn’t go all that well. Notes on the Mets-Giants series after the jump:
– First, I missed a majority of Monday’s day-cap, so coverage of that game will be limited to the following sentence: Miguel Batista did not have a great outing.
– Big picture stuff from the series: The Giants outplayed the Mets in just about every way. The Giants outscored the Mets 21-11 over the four games. They outhit the Mets 43-31. They out-pitched them: Giants pitchers struck out 33, walked 17, and allowed two home runs; Mets pitchers struck out 26, walked 13, and allowed five home runs. The Giants played Aubrey Huff at second base in the only game they lost.
– Moving on to more bad stuff: Ike Davis had a particularly pitiable long weekend, going 1-14 and striking out seven times. His one hit, the only time he reached base, was a squibber off the hands of Javier Lopez and Brandon Crawford. And the ball failed to leave the infield grass. The Giants’ pitchers fed Davis junk, breaking pitches for strikes and fastballs just off the plate, and to his credit, Davis worked the count full almost every trip to the plate. Then he’d strike out with a full count to make things really, really painful. He appears to be receiving no benefits from the masked arbiters, but Davis has also complained about pitches called against him from day one in the majors. So . . . learning experiences all around.
– Though it’s worth noting that home plate umpire Dana DeMuth had a strike zone Joe Maddon might call a “slightly amorphous” during Davis’ final at-bat:
– SNY’s cameras caught David Wright going to DeMuth between inning and appearing to apologize for Davis’ behavior. Wright seems to be doing more of this kind of stuff — schmoozing umpires, calming his pitchers — this season. He’s also doing more hitting, which is even cooler. Except for this weekend.
– Other bad stuff: The big Frank Francisco faced ten batters and retired four across two outings. Francisco put his fastball everywhere but where he wanted, and Terry Collins pulled the B.F.F. in a save situation during Saturday’s game. As the B.F.F. made a sad walk to the bench after being yanked, every player in the Mets’ dugout patted him on the back. Which was nice to see. Teammates!
– The typical Ruben Tejada line seems to be 1-4 with a walk.
– You know how Spartans men spent their whole lives training for and fighting in wars, and were elite soldiers because of that? That’s what the Giants’ pitching staff is like. Every game they play is 3-2. They’re professional pitchers in the way the Spartans were professional soldiers. Every pitch the Giants throw looks to have a purpose, and San Francisco’s dugout generals appears to call a large number of them. Dave Righetti has trained a FIP-defying, weak fly-ball inducing army.
– Also the beards. Pablo Sandoval shaved for Monday’s game, but he rocked a bear league softball beard during the weekend. (I meant to write “beer league” there, but I’m laughing at the idea of bear league softball so I’m leaving that typo as is.) Sergio Romo looks like a stylish Eastern Orthodox holy man.
– Pablo Sandoval is a pretty good third baseman. He’s got a strong arm, a quick release, a good first step, and he doesn’t make errors. His second step and every step after is glacial, but third basemen don’t need more than one step anyway. Advanced defensive metrics indicated Sandoval as an elite defender last season, which seems like one of those “Oh UZR, you so crazy” assertions. But I’m not sure those numbers are that far off. He’s not chasing down any bunts, but he gobbles up every hard hopper down the line.
– Last Giants’ thought: If Angel Pagan and Melky Cabrera can be average hitters, and Brandon Belt half-way decent, with Buster Posey and Pablo Sandoval anchoring the middle, the Giants’ lineup might be okay. And it only needs to be okay, because San Francisco’s pitching looks like the best in the league.
– Jason Bay is . . . still not awful? He hit his third home run on Friday, went 4-12 with a walk in the series and is now batting .240/.316/.460 on the season.
– Kirk Nieuwenhuis oppo-boppoed to right field on Friday, maybe the most impressive home run of the weekend. Captain Bro almost jumped at an off-speed pitch from Barry Zito, but kept his hands back and muscled the pitch out to right.
– It should be noted that Nieuwenhuis and Tejada combined for the second-worst pop-up drop in recent Mets’ history on Saturday, but it worked out all right in the end. Serious question: Does everyone remember where they were when Luis Castillo dropped that pop up? I do. It’s like when a famous person dies, only this was a weird, localized national tragedy.
– David Wright continued to see away, away, away. He struck out four times, walked four times, and went 1-14. He also had a terrible two-pitch sequence of baserunning on Saturday: With Jason Bay at the plate and Ike Davis at first, Wright broke for third base on the pitch before thinking better of it. Davis tried to follow Wright, realized David was heading back to second, and was picked off by Buster Posey as he tried to scramble back. On the next pitch, Wright really did break for third and Posey gunned him down, too.
– Let’s cover the pitchers: Jon Niese wiggled into and out of trouble during Friday night’s start. The BABIP monster (climbed to .250 for the season) began to rear its head, with Niese allowing seven hits across six innings, though a good number came on sinking line drives. It seems as if Niese sometimes gets inside-cutter happy, and righthanded hitters start to inside-out those cutters into center field for singles. At least until Niese remembers he throws a pretty good curveball.
– Mike Pelfrey has the start of the series, allowing no home runs, one walk, and inducing nine outs on the ground. He threw just 102 pitches across his eight innings, snuck (sneaked? snucked?) his curveball for first pitch strikes, and changed eye levels with his fastball.
– Speaking of which: Josh Thole caught Pelfrey, but he took a page out of Mike Nickeas’ playbook. Thole called for Pelfrey to mix in those aforementioned fastballs up, especially to lefthanded hitters. I like this call. Pelfrey’s sinker moves away from lefthanded hitters, and those hitters often take that pitch the other way and dump it into left field. If lefties are looking to go the other way, Pelfrey is able to blow his fastball up and in past them, especially if he can ramp it up to 94 like he did on Saturday. That fastball up changes the hitter’s eye level and keeps them off the outside corner. Or something. Pelfrey basically just throws fastballs, and generally in the same place, over and over and over. It seems as though some variance, even if it’s just location, is probably a good idea.
– Secret Agent Miguel Batista. Sigh. He is not off to an auspicious start. Are Sandy Alderson teams required to have a veteran player-coach in the bullpen to impart their wisdom for a season and then depart into the sunset? Last season Jason Isringhausen hung around as a replacement-level player and a decent pitching coach. Is that Batista’s job? And does Alderson have to hire player-coaches because Dan Warthen is untouchable, for whatever reasons?
– Dillon Gee gets credit for hanging around into the seventh inning, but 12 hits, two of them home runs, means that’s all he gets credit for. A little bit of defensive help here and there, and Gee’s night may have looked quite a bit different. But the Mets’ outfield defense helps no man (except the batter, so I guess they help many a man), and thus Gee’s ERA sits at 5.21.
– The Mets, 8-8, are back at .500. The top and bottom of the order get on base, but the middle of the order leaves them there. As a team, the Mets went 7-38, .182, with runners in scoring position this series. They hit home runs, but seemingly only when no one is on base. The infield defense is passable, but the outfield defense is bad. The pitching has been mixed. They’ve played a tough schedule so far, but they’ve also been outscored by 19 runs and are lucky to be .500.
The offense should improve when the middle guys start hitting, and some of those hits and home runs will come with men on base. The run prevention should remain about as crummy. The schedule will remain tough because the division is tough. In other words, the Mets are who we thought they were, only a healthy Santana and not-awful Bay make .500 at the end of the season seem attainable. Cool? Cool.