Mets Game 137: Loss to Nationals

Nationals 8 Mets 7

It’s been a while since I watched an American League ballgame, so was interesting to watch. And hey, neither team used the DH — and the pitchers provided some offense. (Cue: Mel Allen) How about that?

Mets Game Notes

Balls were flying out of the park on this particular evening, off the bats of both clubs — three by the Nats and two by the Mets. Among them was a tater by Nats starter Tom Milone, who did it on the first pitch he saw as a MLB hitter.

The Mets fought back from a five-zip deficit to take the lead in the seventh, only to give the game away in the ninth. Bobby Parnell was the only reliever to give up a run in four innings of relief — and he is the closer. He gave up a leadoff hit and then crumbled, unable to keep his slider near the strike zone and completely losing his confidence and cool. His body language showed so much fear I was surprised he didn’t throw away a sac bunt by Ian Desmond — who bunted one foul and then watched three balls before getting one to put down. I was mildly surprised that Davey Johnson didn’t give Desmond the hit sign once the count went to 3-1, but in hindsight, obviously, it was the right decision.

Another managerial decision to examine was Terry Collins’ direction to intentionally walk Roger Bernadina to load the bases with one out in the ninth, with Ryan Zimmerman coming up. I get the idea that Bernadina had hit a homer and another ball hard, is a lefty hitter, and usually makes contact. But I don’t like giving a pitcher no room for error — particularly when that pitcher is showing an inability to throw strikes.

One more to debate: Jose Reyes bunting in the top of the seventh to sacrifice Willie Harris to second base. Granted, Harris eventually scored the go-ahead run. But there were none out, Reyes is the NL’s leading hitter, and Clippard started the inning throwing four straight balls to Willie Harris — perhaps the least dangerous hitter on the Mets roster. Generally, I’m an old-school guy who understands the value of a well-placed bunt. But a sac bunt can’t be automatic — there are times when it’s not the right play, and that was one of them. Make Clippard throw a strike, and let the best hitter on your team and in the league swing the bat. Who knows, maybe Reyes walks, or maybe he hits a double, and more than one run scores that inning. Maybe if it was a 0-0 game, and both teams had trouble getting baserunners, I MIGHT consider bunting there. But not in this game.

Dillon Gee struggled through five frames, allowing six runs on a walk and eight hits — including all three homers hit by the Nats. He wasn’t able to throw his offspeed pitches for strikes, and his fastball was too hittable. I’m wondering if he’s fatigued, or if his shoulder is barking.

The Mets bullpen, though, did a great job from the sixth through eighth inning. It looked to me like there was a conscious effort to keep the ball away from the Nats hitters — off the outside part of the plate — particularly against the righthanded batters. And that strategy worked, as the Nats kept swinging and missing at balls outside, and often far outside.

Manny Acosta struck out 5 in two innings, allowing only one baserunner, but no, I’m still not ready to trust him.

On the bright side, Jason Bay broke his 0-for-35 slump on the road with a homer to tie the game. Additionally, Nick Evans went yard; he’s hitting pretty well now that he’s getting regular duty, eh?

Next Mets Game

The rubber match begins at 1:35 PM EST on Sunday afternoon. Mike Pelfrey pitches against Livan Hernandez.

Mets 2011 Games

About the Author

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.

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