That’s how you respond to a bad loss. Your ace gets on the mound and starts dealing. Then your offense explodes with every starter getting a hit. By the time the Phillies knew what happened the game was over.
The tone was set when Matt Harvey started the game by striking out the side in the first. We used to talk about Harvey as a stopper. A start to the game like this shows those old stopper credentials. Sure, it wasn’t a terrific start overall, but he would keep the Phillies at bay to secure the victory. Overall, he would go 6.1 IP, 9 H, 1 BB, 9 K, and 4 ER.
The game seemed over by the third inning. In the second inning, Kelly Johnson opened the scoring by doubling home Daniel Murphy. Johnson would score on Ruben Tejada‘s inside the park home run putting the Mets up 3-0. The home run was the result of Domonic Brown flipping over the short RF side wall and suffering a concussion. In the third Murphy would hit an RBI double , and he would score on another opposite field homerun by Michael Conforto. At the end of three, the Mets lead 6-0.
The Mets did have a couple of pieces of bad news today. First, Wilmer Flores‘ grandfather is ailing. Flores flew to Venezuela to be with him. I hope everything will be alright, and I have his family in my prayers.
The second piece of bad news was that Murphy was forced to leave the game with a quad injury. With Lucas Duda still on the DL, this will probably press Michael Cuddyer into everyday 1B duties. If this is a bad injury, like the one Murphy suffered earlier this year, he will be out for a while. That’s a shame because it was great seeing him in a pennant race again.
There was also two bizarre plays. Ironically, the first occurred when Eric Young, Jr. pinch ran for Conforto. Like Monday night, EY had the base stolen until EY came off the base. There was no replay needed this time. The second bizarre play happened when the Phillies were threatening in the seventh. That’s when Odubel Herrera ran way out of the baseline onto the grass to avoid a rage from Johnson. He was ruled out for running out of the baseline, and when Johnson threw to first, the double play was complete.
It should also be noted that Yoenis Cespedes giveth and he taketh. He’s prone to the bone-headed play. Tonight, he got thrown out at third with two outs ending a rally in the sixth. However, he would come back in the eighth and mash a homerun. It’s a night where you can see why this is his fourth team in one calendar year. It’s also a night where you question why anyone would give up on him.
Overall, the night belonged to Tejada who went 2-4 with a run scored, four RBI, and that inside the park homerun. It was nice to see him and the Mets respond well tonight. It was a good 8-4 win.
There’s a saying in the NFL that if you have two QBs, you really don’t have a QB. The principal us that if you truly have a good QB, there’s no need for a QB competition. As a Giants fan, I remember the Dave Brown/Kent Graham days. People always debated who should start. It turned out everyone was wrong. When Eli Manning came along, there was no debate, and there have been two Super Bowls.
I was thinking of this as I was contemplating the Mets SS situation. From my estimation, Wilmer Flores plays SS with flyball pitchers like Bartolo Colon and Jacob deGrom. Collins plays Ruben Tejada with groundballs pitchers like Jon Niese. Essentially, Collins is trying to hide Flores’ poor defense with flyball pitchers while hiding Tejada’s poor bat by playing him only with the groundballs pitchers. In essence, the Mets don’t have a good SS option right now, so Collins is forced to mix and match like with Dave Brown and Kent Graham.
This wouldn’t be an issue if either Flores or Tejada fit the bill. Flores was supposed to be the offensive option. He’s hit .262/.294/.411, and that’s after a terrific last 20 games where he’s hit .324/.360/.521. Note, if he hits like this, you can live with his poor glove at SS.
Now, Flores may not be the disaster defensively that I thought he might be originally. That’s a testament to his work ethic. Last year, his UZR at SS was 4.0, which is above average. This year, he’s at -2.8, which is below average. Overall, in a limited sample size, the advanced statistics tell us he has decent range.
Now, this is where the advanced statistics conflict with the eye test. As per my eye test, he has limited range at SS. Furthermore, even though he’s better lately, he’s had trouble turning the double play. Also, why I don’t think errors are necessarily a true measure of defensive ability, it should be noted that Flores has the fifth most errors at SS in the NL despite playing only 85 out of a possible 132 games there.
With his struggling defense, it seemed Collins was forced to play Tejada at SS. The problem is despite the Mets assumptions, Tejada is not a good defensive SS. The advanced statistics show his UZR is -5.2, which rates to be quite a below average defensive SS. To be fair, a partial season of UZR data is not entirely reliable. Instead, we should look at his career UZR, which is -1.1. Generally, speaking he’s been slightly below average.
However, when applying the eye test, we see a SS who is much steadier than Flores. For all of Tejada’s faults, he looks to be more comfortable at SS, makes the routine play, and he is much better turning the double play. The problem is that’s all he is – steady. He will never even be thought of in the Gold a Glove competition. Furthermore, with a .253/.334/.338 triple slash line, it’s not like he’s hitting enough to justify his steady glove.
That puts Collins in a bind. He had to choose between a better hitter who’s a poor fielder and a steady at best fielder who doesn’t hit well. In sum, he doesn’t have a real SS option. I have to admit that despite his recent rough stretch, Collins has handled this situation well. He’s going to have to continue as the Mets have no other SS on the 40 man roster and cannot trade for one now. Actually they can, but that player won’t be eligible for the playoffs.
It’s amazing to think the Mets are here with no SS. Hopefully, Tejada or Flores will step up and take control of the situation. If not, I trust Collins can continue juggling the situation for now without dropping a ball.