Mets Game 150: Loss to Nationals
Nationals 10 Mets 1
The Nationals sweep the Mets in Citi Field and as a result, leapfrog over them and into third place in the NL East.
Mets Game Notes
Even after witnessing it, it’s hard to believe that this was a 2-1 game going into the 7th inning. For six frames, it was a lazy but tight ballgame. Then I blinked, and it was 6-1. I blinked again, and it was 10-1, with reserve outfielder Mike Baxter warming up in the bullpen. You know it’s a bad day when you have a position player in the ‘pen in September, when the rosters are expanded.
Compared to his MLB debut, Chris Schwinden looked more relaxed and his final line reflected that — he allowed two runs (one earned) on four hits and two walks in five innings. Clearly, he doesn’t have overpowering stuff and his success is directly tied to his ability to command all of his pitches — which he did, mainly by getting “strike one”. His fastball looks very hittable, but he moved it around the zone and rarely threw consecutive pitches at the same speed to the same location. I like the 12-6 break on his curveball, but unfortunately he doesn’t get much downward action on any of his other pitches. For a guy who changes speeds and relies on command, he doesn’t throw many true change-ups. Rather, he changes speeds on his fastball, mixing in a two-seamer that ran in on the righthanded hitters, a four-seamer, a cutter that moves just a bit horizontally, and a slider that gets a little sink but stays above the knees. What does that mean? I think he could have some success for a short time, but will run into trouble over the long haul unless he works in a true change-up — preferably one that stays low and in the strike zone. It’s good that he has a few variations of the fastball but against MLBers he’ll need to mix in more reduced-velocity pitches to keep them off-balance.
As well as Schwinden pitched, Nats rookie Tom Milone was just a hint better, also allowing only one earned run but doing it in 5 2/3 and allowing three hits and three walks. Like Schwinden, Milone is not overpowering and needs to have his command to succeed. However, unlike Schwinden, Milone has more variance in his speeds and worked in a true change-up far more often than his righthanded counterpart. It’s not a great change-up, as it’s only about 7-9 MPH less than his fastball, but it’s good enough and it gets enough sink to induce swings and misses on occasion. Milone reminds me a little of Jeff Francis, the way he changes speeds, mixes pitches, and stays around the plate.
There isn’t a whole lot else to write about without feeling nauseous, so I’ll try to keep the rest of this brief.
David Wright made another error; that’s his 8thin the last 11 games. Luckily, it doesn’t matter at this point of the season.
Colin Balester, with his gangly frame and inability to control a wicked hard-running sinker, reminds me of former Nat Mike MacDougal. When he came in relief of Milone in the sixth I thought for sure it was the Mets’ chance to tie the score. But, Balester realized he had no control of the fastball, and kept throwing a hard breaking curveball to get through the inning.
Does Rick Ankiel turn up his game a notch for the Mets? It certainly seems that way. Don’t get me wrong, he’s no Chipper Jones, but he hits 50 points higher vs. the Mets, he catches everything in centerfield, and seems to always be running around the bases.
The Mets used six relievers and nearly a seventh to get the final nine outs of the ballgame.
Now eight games under .500 and in sole possession of fourth place, the Mets’ next target is the NL East basement, currently occupied by the Florida Marlins. The Marlins are four games behind with a dozen to play — which seems like a lot of ground to cover in a short time period but hey, you never know.