Posted Under: Johanna's View
On my way back from Ohio, I stopped to see the Binghamton Mets play the New Hampshire Fisher Cats. I have been to Binghamton a ton, so I knew that to expect, but hadn’t seen the AA Mets this year. The stadium experience is pretty quiet, with a few very folksy sort of events between innings. People usually seem to come to games because its nice cheap entertainment, and their kids can run around and be safe. The food choices are slim and basic, and there are quite a number of fans in the stands keeping a scorecard, and really watching the game. Here is a photo from ‘07, though it hasn’t changed much.
The game promised to be quite good, with a pretty good Mets team and and a very good Fisher Cats team, which is the AA for the Toronto Blue Jays. The pitching matchup was Jose Sanchez, the Mets best this season and Brad Mills who was drafted in 2007 and had arrived in AA 5 starts ago. Since making the jump up a level he had a 2-1 record and .044 ERA. His Baseball America profile said he had injury issues in college, and had a trouble throwing low in the zone. The good news he has figured out that is what he needs to do. He threw mostly fastballs and change-ups, and used his very slow curve to surprise hitters on the rare occasion. His fastball, according to the stadium radar gun was between 88 and 92 with one or two reaching 94.
Both pitchers had some great success through the early innings, and it looked like we might be in for a very long night. Sanchez took control early, and was very efficient pitching to contact allowing on 4 base-runners in his 8 innings of work. His defense worked very efficiently behind him, and thats a good sign for this team and for the Mets of the future, if only these kids could hit! Some took such bad swings that one had to wonder if, despite their gloves, they will ever make it out of AA.
For his part, Mills had a no-hitter going into the 4th, but he was a study in a pitcher learning his craft. At times he would either be try to be too precise, throwing to the outside corner and missing and then losing focus and throwing up. When the BMets were patient, they could draw a walk. Luis Castillo was making a rehab assignment in Binghampton last night and one of his at-bats was a beautiful example for a young pitcher to watch. Castillo stepped into the box and Mills pitched him low and away. Then he came in high and fast but Castillo swung and missed, he came back a little lower, a perfect strike, and Castillo anticipating the speed started early and got in front of the ball and hit it foul down the 3rd base line. Mills then threw his super-slow curve which Castillo took, and finally went back to his fastball which Castillo hit high in the air to the right fielder. In his next at-bat , Mills afraid of coming back down the middle, and a little too tired to bring his best fastball, threw two to the outside corner, came in high inside and then returned to the outside of the plate which Castillo reached way out and got to bloop over the short-stop. Castillo new the kid was going to go back to the “safe” place and he went out and got the ball. Luis drove in a run on that hit as well.
I expected Luis to look old compared to the kids on the field, his creaky knees giving away his age, but he didn’t. His bat is a little slow, and if Mills could have managed his best fastball consistently, he could have easily gotten Castillo. Mills was out of the game after 6, with 6 strikeouts, 6 hits and 3 runs.
The Fisher Cats bats looked good, and their averages all were quite strong, but they were overmatched by Sanchez, and by the last few innings were trying to be too aggressive, swinging at a lot of first pitches. The did get lucky when Sanchez left the game and the BMets closer, Tim Lavigne, came in, who in my brief time of watching him looked awful. No wonder there is no bullpen help for the Mets within their system. He was wild, and out of the zone for much of his inning which required a visit by the pitching coach and 2 visits by the catcher. He walked the leadoff hitter (batting 9th) and then gave up a deep single. The next batter drove in a run, and moved the last batter to third on a deep sacrifice. The next batter drove him in also on a sac fly. It had taken less than 2 hours to get to Lavigne’s first pitch in the top of the 9th, but it took another 25 minutes before he reached the second out. Luckily, somehow, Lavigne found the low strike zone and Brian Dopriak flew out to right to end the game- BMets 3 Fisher Cats 2
The minor league season begins playoff Sept 3. How quickly the season past.