Mets Game 6: Loss to Nationals
Nationals 5 Mets 2
New York Mets fans, welcome to the basement.
The game ended nearly as quickly as it began. With the bases loaded in the first inning, Josh Willingham blasted a drive off the wall above the centerfield fence that was eventually ruled a grand slam homerun after video review. Willingham doubled in another run in the third and the Mets never got anything going against Livan Hernandez.
For the second consecutive game, the Nationals beat the Mets with one player driving in all their runs.
And for the next 48 hours at least, the Mets will be in the NL East cellar.
Johan Santana struggled mightily in the first few innings, unable to locate his changeup and barely able to reach 90 MPH on his fastball. Compounding the problem was that the usually over-aggressive Nats were taking pitches and getting good swings on fat pitches.
Mike Jacobs’ second hit of the season was a two-run homer in the 8th inning. It was the 100th homerun of his career, though I doubt many Mets fans celebrated it.
Jeff Francoeur threw a 289 1/2 -foot strike to nail Adam Dunn at home plate on a potential sac fly in the top of the third. Dunn didn’t slide, and on-deck hitter Wil Nieves was not in position to give Dunn direction.
Rod Barajas didn’t do anything special with the bat, but you have to give him props for getting steamrolled by Adam Dunn, but instantly recovering to tag out Josh Willingham at home plate in a bang-bang play that eventually was ruled moot. In cases like that it’s good to have some extra flesh.
Raul Valdes made his MLB debut and handled the 6th and 7th innings without incident. The 32-year-old lefty was added to the roster when Sean Green was placed on the DL. Valdes kind of looks like a high school pitcher who just tries to wing it.
David Wright did not get a hit, but walked and stole a base. He now has 8 walks in the first 6 games of the year, and on pace to walk 215 times for the season.
Garry Mathews Jr. came to the plate four times with runners in scoring position. He was retired all four times.
Livan Hernandez had as good a day as he’s likely to have all year, shutting out the Mets through seven strong innings, allowing only 5 hits and 3 walks, expending a fairly efficient 88 pitches. He also went 1-for-2 with a single.
Francisco Rodriguez hit Willie Harris with a pitch in the ninth inning. Harris didn’t make much of an effort to get out of the way, and reacted with an expletive — probably as much out of pain as anger. K-Rod immediately responded with expletives of his own, and F-bombs went flying back and forth as Harris jogged down to first base. Both benches emptied onto the field, but no punches thrown, and the game eventually resumed without anyone getting tossed from the game. I think both players overreacted, but it made for some excitement on an otherwise lazy Sunday afternoon.
Matt Capps earned his second save in as many days with a 7-pitch ninth.
Next Mets Game
Monday is a travel day as the Mets move westward to face two of the better teams in the National League. They play again on Tuesday in Colorado against the Rockies, with John Maine facing Greg Smith. Game time is 8:40 PM EST.
If losing a game in which our ace looks awful and we make the Nats’ #5 starter (and a guy who was so awful last year the Mets released him amidst one of their worst seasons in history) look like Cy Young doesn’t wake you up to this season’s grim reality, then you are truly optimistic beyond comprehension. The only thing to look forward to regarding this team is when Omar and Jerry ultimately get fired. Hopefully that’ll brighten my outlook a little bit.
Beyond that, though, I don’t see too many concerns that we didn’t already know about. Santana had a crappy game today, but we know that over the full season he’ll be fine. Maine and Perez stunk it up in their first starts, but we pretty much expected that. Niese and Pelfrey had solid first starts, probably better than we expected. The bullpen has been spectacular. Despite the 2-4 record, the Mets are outscoring their opponents overall.
Today’s loss is really the only loss so far in which the Mets were just all around terrible. Last Tuesday they rallied back from a terrible start by Maine to go into extra innings. Yesterday, the Mets very likely would have won the game if it weren’t for that miraculous 9th inning catch. Last Thursday, the offense didn’t show up, but Niese and the bullpen held Florida to 3 runs.
Clearly, all of the pieces are there to win ballgames, but the team needs to put them all together. I wish I knew (actually, I wish *they* knew) how to do that…
well, that was quick. On the bright side, it could save us six months of caring about this season.
How about a Tuefel/Backman platoon? aNd Kevin Chapman can manage day games after night games?