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.
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.