Here are some things we knew this morning: Matt Harvey is always very good at pitching, the Mets' bullpen is often not very good at pitching, and John Lackey knows his way around an expletive.
Sometimes general truths are embodied in even the smallest of samples, because tonight in Queens, Matt Harvey pitched very well, the Mets' bullpen coughed up the lead Harvey had secured, and salty dog John Lackey sour-faced his way through many a word of cuss. Just as predicted!
People love using the term "pitcher's duel," and it's tempting to call this game just that. And yet it's really a crutch that many a lazy sportswriter resorts to. Which is sad.
Harvey VS Lackey: Pitcher's Duel
Here is John Derran Lackey's final line from tonight's game:
- 7.0 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 6 K;
- 9 ground balls, 3 fly balls, 4 line drives;
- 76 pitches, 55 strikes.
A very good line, with lots of ground balls induced. If the Cardinals had been winning the game, there's no doubt Lackey would've gone the distance instead of being lifted for pinch hitter Peter Bourjos in the eighth.
And here is Matthew Edward Harvey's line on the night:
- 8.0 IP,6 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 9 K;
- 6 ground balls, 5 fly balls, 9 line drives;
- 105 pitches, 74 strikes.
So if you can ever feel like you ALMOST got to Matt Harvey, that's what it would look like: nine line drives! Jason Heyward should feel especially aggrieved, as he hit two balls on the nose--like right on the baseball's nose--that produced three outs. (And a hard-hit grounder that produced another double play.)
So it was a lot of good pitching, some balls hit at fielders, and then boom, Randal Grichuk makes the defensive play of the game:
This was the inning where baseball whispered its fickleness to us. In the top half:
- Jhonny Peralta walked (in a sensational PA)
- Matt Adams lined a single to right, Peralta advancing to second base;
- Yadier Molina struck out swinging;
- Jason Heyward lined out to the shortstop, Peralta doubled off second, inning over.
Not a baserunning mistake by Peralta, there. Just baseball.
In the bottom half:
- Curtis Granderson doubled to right field;
- groundout advances Granderson to third;
- Lucas Duda singled to center, scoring Granderson, 1-0 Mets;
- Michael Cuddyer hits into an inning-ending double play.
Duda's at-bat was the most interesting of the game. He hits the ball to the right side of the infield a lot. A lot, I say.
Everyone knows this about Duda: big platoon split, big pull hitter. In fact, Ben Lindbergh's 2014 article on shifting, "Pity the Pull Hitter," was inspired by Duda's extreme profile. I bet even salty dog John Lackey knows this about Duda--and Mike Matheny certainly does, because here is where he placed the Cardinals infielders on Duda's RBI single:
Maybe it's still frustrating for some of us to see a ground ball roll through a shifted infield, but it's pretty clear that Matheny was correct in changing his defensive alignment to reflect Duda's offensive profile.
And yet, baseball is rarely fair in small samples. I assume that's what Lackey was yelling about after Duda's RBI.
To underscore the unfairness, note that Lucas Duda hit into a shifted 4-6-3 double play in his very next at-bat.
Jeurys Familia replaced Harvey, the Mets still leading 1-0. Here is what then occurred:
- Jhonny Peralta grounded out to the shortstop;
- Matt Adams singled to center (fliner);
- Pete Kozma pinch runs for Adams;
- Yadier Molina singled to right field (fliner), moving Kozma to third;
- Jason Heyward golfs a low breaking ball to right field, and Kozma scores, game tied 1-1;
Here is the pitch that Heyward hit just far enough to score Kozma:
And here is a gif of Kozma scoring the dramatic tying run:
Future gold-glove center fielder Randal Grichuk struck out to end the inning; Kevin Siegrist struck out three (while allowing a double and a walk) in the bottom frame to send the game to extras.
Free Baseball, Bulleted
- Top 10: Bupkis.
- Bot 10: Matt Belisle pitches around a leadoff single, ending the inning with a strikeout of Kirk Nieuwenhuis.
- Top 11: With two on and two out, Heyward strikes out looking. This was a frustrating at-bat. At this point his WPA for the game was -.270.
- Bot 11: Matt Belisle strikes out two; his slider looks wicked tonight and I regret that it cannot be bottled for future use.
- Top 12: The Cardinals strike out three times in the inning, and yet it ends with Grichuk stranded at second after a dropped third strike and a wild pitch. This is the inning when I started to consider whiskey.
- Bot 12: Seth Maness in for Belisle: grounder for an out, grounder for a hit, strikeout swinging on a changeup, weak grounder back to Seth himself, inning over.
- Top 13: Bupkis. I made a Manhattan. Here is a video of Orson Welles calling mankind a "poor, forked radish," from F for Fake.
- Bot 13: Maness gets a groundout to pitcher (that's Seth!), groundout to Kozma at third base, and a dribbbbbbler single to Kozma, who almost made a spectacular play for the out. Maness then gets Granderson to ground out to Wong. That cathedral in the clip above is Notre-Dame de Chartres, and Welles called it: "this rich stone forest, this epic chant, this gaiety, this grand, choiring shout of affirmation." Which (1) is true, and (2) in Orson Welles's voice is just plain beautiful.
- Top 14: Heyward doubles with one out but is stranded there when both Grichuk (for the fifth time tonight) and Seth Maness (for the first) strike out. Here's a photo of Chartres Cathedral:
- Bot 14: Sam Tuivailala replaces Maness, and I'm realizing how exhausted the Cardinals must be. Tui is having trouble finding the strike zone here; he walks the first two batters of the inning, and the end appears to be nigh.
- Matheny replaces Tui with Rosie. (Look at those flying buttresses up there! The statues atop them are gorgeous but also functional: they're weighted with iron and provide more downward mass to counteract the vaulting's outward thrust.)
- Rosie induces a groundout. First and third with one out, John Mayberry, Jr. comes in to pinch hit.
- Orson again: "Our works in stone, in paint, in print, are spared, some of them for a few decades or a millennium or two, but everything must finally fall in war or wear away into the ultimate and universal ash. The triumphs and the frauds, the treasures and the fakes. A fact of life. We’re going to die. ‘Be of good heart,’ cry the dead artists out of the living past. Our songs will all be silenced — but what of it? Go on singing. Maybe a man’s name doesn’t matter all that much."
- Mayberry hits a weak grounder to short, scoring the winning run.
- Mets 2, Cards 1.
- I don't understand how Adams's swing on Harvey's third pitch to him ended in anything but a massive moon-shot home run. Please don't ask me if this is sarcasm.
- Mets fans were booing Yadier all game for some mysterious reason...
- By the way, here is Yadier's line after his three hits today: .305/.348/.367, 6.5 BB%, 13.7 K%, .355 BABIP, good for a 97 wRC+. So you know, that's crazy, right? Only a .062 ISO, but still.
- This game lasted four hours and fourteen minutes.
Fangraphs win-expectancy chart of attrition:
The second game of the series is Michael Wacha versus Jon Niese, tomorrow night at 6:10 central.