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.

Game Notes

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.

Joe Janish began MetsToday in 2005 to provide the unique perspective of a high-level player and coach -- he earned NCAA D-1 All-American honors as a catcher and coached several players who went on to play pro ball. As a result his posts often include mechanical evaluations, scout-like analysis, and opinions that go beyond the numbers. Follow Joe's baseball tips on Twitter at @onbaseball and at the On Baseball Google Plus page.
  1. isuzudude April 11, 2010 at 6:56 pm
    I read in the comments section of yesterday’s game that some people want to attribute the cool weather for Perez’ poor outing, and excuse the offense for their ineptitude by citing how the Mets’ have a lot of slow starters and that Reyes’ re-introduction to the offense is going to need a familiarization period before all cylinders start firing in unison again. And I’m sure the Mets’ defenders will say much of the same in regards to the stinker the team put forth today, too. I’m so sick of making excuses for this team, though. When do they ever overcome adversity? When do they act like professionals and like men and take the bull by the horns and produce despite the intangibles and obstacles? There really is no valid excuse for opening up the season at home against the Marlins and Nationals 2-4. After watching the last 6 games (and the last 2 in particular), the conclusion is easy to draw now: this team is an underachieving bottom-feeder who have lulled some fans into their mentality that losses are a by-product of ill-fortune and not poor play. Stop finding excuses to be losers and start finding ways to win.

    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.

  2. mooshinator April 11, 2010 at 8:35 pm
    There’s really only one thing that I’ve seen in the first six games that truly concerns me beyond what I already knew coming out of Spring Training, and that is the Mets’ inability to hit with runners in scoring position. The Mets are great at getting runners on base, it seems, but time and time again they get 2 on or based loaded and then don’t score any runs.

    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…

  3. gary s. April 11, 2010 at 11:04 pm
    dude, now the fun starts.six on the road coming up..than the cubs and dodgers and atlanta at home..they look like the same exact bunch of underperformers who stunk it up last much as i can’t stand manuel, how can any mgr get this team to win some games in a row with these starters?? when the attendence starts going down, look for the wilnots to make a move..probably gonna take 4-6 weeks though..
  4. murph April 11, 2010 at 11:25 pm
    re: basement.
    well, that was quick. On the bright side, it could save us six months of caring about this season.
  5. hand solo April 12, 2010 at 12:21 am
    Wally Backman. Clap. Clap. Clap Clap Clap.

    How about a Tuefel/Backman platoon? aNd Kevin Chapman can manage day games after night games?

  6. gary s. April 12, 2010 at 9:31 am
    Jerry says the team was “unprepared”.how prepared do u have to be to hit livan hernandez?I thought 2009 was over.six games into 2010 and it just seems like a continuation of last years disgrace.Fred ? Jeff?? are u paying attention?? is there a plan to get the players prepared??is there a plan to get a manager in the dugout who has a clue and can shake some of these guys up?? hello?? anybody home??
  7. Walnutz15 April 12, 2010 at 9:36 am
    Can’t wait to see Carpenter, Wainwright, and De La Rosa on this road trip!