Mets Game 104: Loss to Nationals

Nationals 6 Mets 5

How did this happen?

Mike Pelfrey was shaky early in the game, allowing three runs in the third inning. After getting eighth-place hitter Ryan Langerhans to ground out to lead off the inning, pitcher Joel Hanrahan followed with a triple — in his first Major League at-bat, and likely his first at-bat since Pony League. D’Angelo Jimenez followed with a double to score Hanrahan. Ronny Belliard struck out for the second out, and it looked like Pelfrey might get out of the inning when he went 2-2 to Ryan Zimmerman. However, Zimmerman hit the next pitch up the middle to score Jimenez, and he took second when Lastings Milledge’s throw went in to home plate. Pelfrey couldn’t stop the bleeding, as he gave up another single by Dmitri Young to score Zimmerman and make the score 3-0.

Pelfrey settled down after the third, scattering a few hits but allowing no more runs during his outing. He finished up pitching six innings, allowing eight hits but walking only one and striking out five.

However, the Mets offense struggled mightily against Hanrahan, who was making his Major League debut after seven years in the minors. He kept the Mets off balance with a mixture of changeups, nasty sliders, and a fastball that touched 95 on a few occasions. Strange, because every scouting report I pored over said he was a crafty control guy who barely broke 90. Hmmm… someone’s getting fired on Monday. Hanrahan struck out five Mets, walked one, and only gave up one hit — an opposite-field single by David Wright — through five innings.

In the sixth, the Mets finally broke through against Hanrahan. After both Damion Easley and Jose Reyes struck out to start the inning, Ruben Gotay sliced a ball through the right side for a single. Wright followed with another opposite-field hit, this time a line drive into the right-center gap that scored Gotay and put him on second base. Carlos Delgado was paying close attention to Wright from the on-deck circle and figured that staying back on the ball might be a good idea. He sat back, kept his hands back, then launched an outside fastball over the leftfield fence to tie the ballgame 3-3, and keep Pelfrey from losing another game.

Guillermo Mota pitched a scoreless seventh, but Pedro Feliciano had some struggles in the eighth. He gave up a leadoff single to Austin Kearns, then gave him second base on a wild pitch. Brian Schneider followed with a grounder that moved Kearns to third. Pinch-hitter Tony Batista (yes, he’s still in MLB) was intentionally walked, and Ryan Langerhans — hitting about .150 — singled to drive in the go-ahead run. Pitcher Jon Rauch hit for himself (????) and struck out. Jimenez then walked, and Feliciano was replaced by Aaron Heilman. Unfortunately, Heilman could not continue his magical pitching, and promptly gave up a double to score two runs — making the score 6-3.

In the bottom of the inning, Ruben Gotay started another rally with a leadoff single. Wright singled, and Delgado singled to drive in Gotay. It was the makings of a big inning, but Moises Alou killed the rally with a double play that scored Wright. Nonetheless, Shawn Green tried to restart the engine, taking a page out of the Jose Reyes strategem by slapping a single, stealing second, and taking third on the overthrow. He was stranded there, though, when Ramon Castro grounded out.

Aaron Heilman rebounded by pitching a scoreless ninth, but Chad Cordero matched the feat in earning his 21st save.


Gary Cohen alluded to exactly what I thought I was watching — a repeat of the Jason Jennings MLB debut against the Mets. For those who don’t remember, Jennings pitched a shutout and hit a homerun to beat the Mets.

Moises Alou looked awful in his at-bats. His timing is way off and he’s way ahead of pitches. He looks very similar to his form in March. It may take a while for him to get started. Can the Mets wait? Or should they re-think making a deal for Jermaine Dye, who’s now healthy and hitting?

Shawn Green also mixed in some bad plate appearances. It’s frustrating to watch, because you can see that he’s sometimes guessing, and looking to jerk a ball into the rightfield seats, but the pitcher and catcher are well aware of his plans and have no intention of feeding him anything but garbage sliders down and away. After waving at the first two garbage balls off the plate, you’d think a smart cookie like Green would adjust his plan — especially with two strikes. Yet, he’ll invariably swing through strike three, another slider way off the plate and in the dirt.

Willie Randolph made a very curious move in the seventh. With one out and the game tied three-all, Paul LoDuca pulled up lame on a broken-bat basehit by Lastings Milledge. LoDuca had to leave the game, and El Duque went in to pinch-run, as the Mets had only two position players available. However, at the same time, Randolph sent in Marlon Anderson to pinch-hit against LOOGY Ray King — instead of Ramon Castro, who had to come into the game anyway due to LoDuca’s injury. In other words, Willie wasted Anderson, and left the Mets with no non-pitchers available to pinch-hit later in the game. Apparently, someone forgot to tell Willie that both Anderson Hernandez and Sandy Alomar Jr. were on their way to New Orleans. As a result of Willie’s managerial genius, Tom Glavine came up to pinch-hit in the ninth inning of the one-run game with one out.

Next Game

The Mets absolutely, positively MUST win the final game of the series, which begins at 1:10 PM. John Maine goes to the hill against Billy Traber.

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. sincekindergarten July 29, 2007 at 5:29 am
    It seems to me that the dircetor of advance scouting for the Mets should be demoted, at the very least. Doesn’t anyone scout these guys (pitchers) in AAA, and if they do, do they strap the reports to the back of a Galapogos (sp?) tortoise and send it to Shea that way? Meaning we might see it by the end of the next decade?
  2. isuzudude July 29, 2007 at 10:12 am
    Hanrahan was downright nasty, and I fail to put all the blame on Mets scouting for his dominance over them last night. If his own organization thought he was going to be this good, don’t you think they would have called him up before using the likes of tim redding, jason simontacchi, micah bowie, and levale speigner in the rotation? my guess is he was either really dialed up for his MLB debut, or the gun at Shea was misreading 90 for 95 and Hanrahan did the typical ‘rookie pitcher taming the Mets because they’ve never seen him pitcher’ act.

    The move by Willie in the 7th inning, pinch hitting Anderson for Castro made no sense, and looking at him in the dugout on TV in consequent innings almost seemed like he knew he made a mistake. The only excuse you could give him was the Marlon had good career numbers vs King, while Castro vs Rauch was a bad matchup. But still, you’re asking Anderson to get a hit or else leave the Mets shorthanded. Now, maybe Willie thought Beltran could have been available in an emergency should he be needed in the 9th. And this is where, ab strain or not, Beltran should save his manager and lift his team and give them one lousy at-bat in the 9th inning. If he’s so badly hurt where he can’t even be of service in a situation like that, then why have him on the active roster? put the baby on the DL already. even if its only an injury that takes a week to heal, give him the extra 8 days to rest and then have him come back fully charged for the stretch run.

    If Lo Duca’s injury last night turns out to be anything serious, surely the Mets need to be in the market for a catcher. I don’t doubt Castro can handle the starter’s duties, but to have only Sandy Alomar backing him up is aksing for trouble. I’m not saying to go out and get a Victopr Martinez, just someone servicable who can take some of the heat of Castro.

  3. joe July 29, 2007 at 10:12 am
    Yeah, it all goes to the Wandy Rodriguez phenomenon, which I’m getting really tired of referring to.
  4. sincekindergarten July 29, 2007 at 12:04 pm
    Isuzudude, it would appear that the Mets called up Mike DiFelice.