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New York Mets Opening Day In Game Notes

By Historical Archive ~ April 7th, 2009. Filed under: Digest Contributors.

I know it is a day late, but I was watching the Met game yesterday, jotting down in game comments in my baseball notebook – which I never go to a baseball game without.

Since I was also doing some other work too, I wasn’t able to do a live in game commentary.

Here were my notes from yesterday:

Top 1st – Reyes has typical Reyes at bat, infield hit, stolen base and advancing to third by using his speed. His steal was helped by a change up thrown by Aaron Harang causing the throw by Ramon Hernandez to be just late.

Daniel Murphy (good at bat) advances Reyes to third with a ground ball (OPS+ people be damned). Although the ball was hit to short and Reyes tried to advance, the angle which Alex Gonzalez fielded the ball would have made a throw to third very difficult since Reyes was in his line of fire.

On Murph’s ground ball, he was clearly looking for an outside pitch to pull, then jammed himself in hitting that weak grounder, but he got the job done.

Unfortunately, David Wright didn’t get the job done, and I wonder how Met fans will react to his first chance to be “clutch” and failing in that spot.

Being clutch as a hitter doesn’t just occur in the later innings, but includes early innings, too. If you put up early runs, you might not need to be as clutch later on. Delgado has a great at bat to work a walk, but Beltran flies out to center to end the mini threat.

Bottom 1st – Johan working hard, with the Reds looking to take pitches to work Johan’s pitch count up. Jerry Manuel already said he will not go deep with Santana on this type of rainy day, especially this early in the season. It looks like the Reds idea is to work the count deep and get Santana out of the game early.

Both the first two hitters took the first three pitches from Santana. Total of 31 pitches by Santana in the first inning, although it appeared he was squeezed by umpire a few times.

Top 2nd – Luis Castillo gets screwed as the umpire calls him out on a close 2-2 pitch, which was the same pitch the ump called a ball on 1-2. Still, too close to take either pitch, but if you get the call on 1-2, then you get the call on 2-2.

Getting Gonzalez back as the shortstop pays dividends already for Cincy as he snares a Santana smash up the middle and gets the out at first. Gonzo missed all of last year with a severe knee injury.

UZR RATING UPDATE- Alex Gonzalez has always been one of the best defensive shortstops in baseball, covering tons of ground. He will significantly help the Reds pitchers this year. Since it was hit to the left of the SS, Derek Jeter probably never gets to that ball.

Bottom 2nd – another walk for Johan, totaling three already. Pitch count rising. But he is helped by a 9-3 double play on a nice catch by Church and throw to Delgado to double Encarnacion. Looked like Delgado was off the bag with his foot.

Can’t fault runner on that as he sees the ball bounce in air then heads to second before catch is made. Tough play to judge as a runner.

COACHES CORNER – That bobble by Church reminds me of a game where we had a runner on third and one out when a fly ball was hit to center field and the CF tried to rush his throw home before he caught the ball. The ball bounced off his glove into the air, our runner tagged, the CF caught the ball, threw home but our runner scored.

The other coach appealed the tag saying our runner left early BEFORE THE CATCH WAS MADE. The umpires agreed, but I protested saying the runner can leave before the catch is made, and that he can advance once the ball first touches the fielder.

The ball just has to touch a fielder in order to advance on a fly ball, not actually be a catch.

Bottom 3rd – Johan at 43 pitches entering third inning as Reds’ plan to work count is raising his total. Johan probably going to be limited to maybe 100 pitches.

Why then are the #1 and #2 leadoff hitters going after the first pitch? After the pitcher Harang goes 4 pitches deep in his strikeout, both Hairston and McDonald both swing at the first pitch and make outs. Total of 6 pitches from Santana this inning.

Reds blew it this inning. As I wrote on the live blog on cnnsi.com, the only way the Reds win this game is by getting Santana out of the game early and then beat up on the middle relief. They blew that chance.

Top 5th – Great at bat by Daniel Murphy, not just because of the home run, but the pitch sequence was:

Called strike, called strike, Foul, Ball, Ball, Foul, Ball, Foul, Home run. Total of 9 pitches and gets a FB down the middle.

I wrote this about Murphy last October on my own site. I love players like Murphy. When I read that Murphy blew off his classes his final year at Jacksonville Univ. to go hit in the cages, that is the type of player who will always continue to improve. And just think that Murphy wasn’t even a prospect halfway through last season, and any team could of had him in a trade.

Bad job by David Wright AND third base coach on that play at plate. The ball was a hard liner to right, so Wright decided to delay to see if it was caught, but once it isn’t caught his job is to run hard until stopped by the coach. Wright ASSUMED he was going to be held as he delayed and didn’t see Jay Bruce bobble the ball. But the third base coach should have seen Wright stumble and hold him no matter what.

It is very difficult to stop and start on the basepaths. Where is WIllie Randolph when you need him?

Top 6th – Nice at bat adjustment by Murphy on run scoring ground ball off a LHP, putting the ball in play with two strikes on an inside pitch. If you are watching a Met game and sometimes don’t see every pitch or at bat, make sure you do watch every pitch to Murphy. His approach at the plate is unbelievably tremendous.  Make sure you watch Murphy in between pitches.

He reminds me of Paul O’Neill in his hitting approach, and I am sure Lou Piniella still kicks himself about that Roberto Kelly trade.

Bottom 6th – On single up the middle, I can’t believe the runner tried for third when down by two runs and NO OUTS. Santana didn’t think he was going to run either as he was late backing up the throw, not in the correct position. Still the runner on third did not advance and score. Why advance with the 4, 5 and 6 hitters coming up? The run producing guys.

Tough error for Beltran as throw appeared to hit diving runner and deflected away from Wright.

After the Bruce pop out, I do not take out Santana at that point in the game. But Santana did drop his arm angle a few times to Bruce in that last at bat and maybe Manuel noticed it, too and became worried.

Still, how many times last year did Santana get pulled early only to see his win change to a ND because the bullpen loses the lead? I would continue with my horse.

Sean Green in his first Met appearance in a big spot.

Luckily, Encarnacion hits a line shot which Murphy snares in left center. Mets had him played very well as Murphy ranged a little to his his left to grab the liner. Not that tough of a play for Murphy as when the ball is hit to either side of an outfielder, it is easier to judge the depth and speed of the ball. It is VERY TOUGH when a line drive is hit RIGHT AT an outfielder.

Bottom 7th – Good job by Manuel in keeping the strike throwing Green in the game here and not burning out his bullpen via that righty/lefty crap. If a major league pitcher like Green can’t get out hitters consistently than he shouldn’t be in the game, especially with 7, 8 and 9 coming up.

Lefty specialists should only be brought in the face a lefty guy when you need a big strikeout late against a tough lefty hitter like Ryan Howard. Otherwise keep the effective pitcher in the game.

Although a few balls are hard hit, Green escapes with a six pitch inning.

Bottom 8th- I can’t believe that pinch hitter Chris Dickerson layed off all those splitters thrown by JJ Putz with one out in the inning. Real good at bat by Dickerson in working the walk. Although he strikes out a little too much for a speedster, he will be an effective player for the Reds.

Putz gets out of the inning, but 23 pitches is just too much for fragile Met fans.

Top 9th- Although Wright walked, then got picked off, which I didn’t see as the Yankee game was just starting, the Mets went down easy for the third straight inning. Delgado did single, but it was with two outs with nobody on.

It will easier for the Mets to continue to score runs later in the game after they take and early lead. Putting up runs each inning demoralizes a team who is already losing in a game. That was a NY Met problem last year, too, and if they scored some runs in the 5th, 6th and 7th innings last year,then the Met bullpen would not have failed quite as often.

Bottom 9th – K-Rod being K-Rod as he mows down the 5, 6 and 7 hitters.

This Opening Game is exactly how the Mets drew it up: get an early lead, good starting pitching and a strong game from the new bullpen.

As I said earlier though, it would be good for Manuel to maybe play some small ball late to generate an extra run or two to help build a bigger lead.

Daniel Murphy had two at bats in the game which were nine pitches in length!

Great game for the Mets and I am sure Met fans will rejoice over the way it played out with the bullpen locking down a win by Santana, a rare occurrence last year.

But it is only one game and the Mets still have to give Oliver Perez and John Maine 33 starts each this season and Livan Hernandez will make at least 10-15 himself.

Lets not get carried away yet, but it does appear that Santana could have a very dominating year.

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2 Responses to New York Mets Opening Day In Game Notes

  1. James K.

    Nice game by the Mets, nice recap. Wish there was a game today.

    Just an FYI – UZR = “ultimate zone rating”, so saying “UZR rating” is saying “ultimate zone rating rating”. If he’s healthy, Gonzalez is a plus fielder at a premium position.

  2. Mike

    You forgot to mention that the Mets inserted OF Jeremy Reed into the game for late-inning defensive purposes.

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