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

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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.

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. NormE September 4, 2011 at 12:09 am
    I didn’t know you were old enough to remember Mel Allen.

    You’re right about Reyes sacrificing. Not a good idea.

    I, too, would have pitched to Bernardina, but Parnell was not going to get away unscathed unless someone hit a bullet into a DP.

    • Joe Janish September 4, 2011 at 12:55 am
      Ha! Yes, I didn’t know I was that old, either, until I realized there are people old enough to drink who have never seen a rotary phone nor a black&white TV. Though, I have to admit I only know Mel from This Week in Baseball — not as a play-by-play guy.

      True, it was going to be tough for Parnell to get out of that situation. But as mentioned I HATE putting pitchers into a spot where they can’t make a mistake (remember Kenny Rogers?). And I hate the IBB in general — the best guys fail 7 out of 10 times, so make them earn it! Finally, I know Bernadina hit some balls hard, but with the choice of him vs. Zim, I’ll take my chances with Bernadina, who is hitting under .250 and barely has a .300 OBP — particularly when I have a guy throwing triple digits!

  2. gary s. September 4, 2011 at 8:28 am
    The minute parnell walked the 2nd batter in the inning, i knew the game was over.Mking him a closer is like trying to put a round peg into a square hole.Never going to happen.He’s lousy in the 8th inning.Why bother using him in 9th?Two other things from the 9th.Why start Flores, a .221 hitter with a slider and why was Duda so deep in right field for Zimmerman with the bases loaded?Acyually he should have been pulled for defense at the start of the inning for a faster player and the ball is probably caught.That said, Parnell stinks and we better find a closer in the offseason
  3. Joe September 4, 2011 at 8:30 am
    I only caught the very end of the game on the radio, yay, including Howie’s final call. Enjoyed his (and Gary’s) additions to the new book that has a bunch of stories from announcers. “A Talk in the Park.”

    I don’t know about Parnell. We have seen him awhile now, though he might still have time, and too often he doesn’t seem to have it. Other times, he shines. Past experience doesn’t lead me to trust him long term as a closer.

    I nod to the pen though. It had a bad month recently, but not bad for a bargain basement job. Your suggestion that Gee and tired or worn out or something sounds reasonable to me. He had a great run, then he seemed to hit a wall of some sort. Hopefully, he will be able in time to have what it takes to go the distance of the season.

  4. Mel September 4, 2011 at 8:42 am
    Walking Bernadina to pitch to Zimmerman…. When is the official welcome back Jerry Manuel party?. Seriously if Parnel can’t be trusted to get out a Spetember call up then he ain’t no closer.
  5. Joe September 4, 2011 at 10:15 am
    Bernadina played 73 games this year for the Nats.