Mets 7 Nationals 2
The Mets paid a $137.5M insurance policy against losing streaks. Their policy is named Johan Santana. On this evening, the policy delivered.
Santana stopped a three-game slide, giving the Mets seven solid innings off the mound and a pair of two-bagger blasts off the bat en route to a 7-2 victory and his third win of the year.
For a while there, it looked like the Mets bats were still in a slumber, as they were only able to manage four base hits — two by Carlos Beltran and one by Santana — off Nats starter Tim Redding. Redding wasn’t particularly dominating, but the Mets couldn’t get anything going against the veteran righthander. However, Redding’s pitch count was nearing that sacred century mark in the sixth, so Washington skipper Manny Acta did the Mets a favor by removing his starter after giving up a leadoff single to Carlos Beltran. His choice for replacement, however, was dubious — Ray King, who would easily be confused with a hot dog vendor who is eating the profits. The slothlike southpaw was successful in his job of retiring lefthanded hitters Carlos Delgado and Brian Schneider, but not before giving up two infield singles, two stolen bases, a double to Santana, and three runs. Before Tim Redding could get to the showers, his 2-2 tie became a 5-2 deficit.
The Mets tacked on another two in the top of the ninth courtesy of a two-run double by Ryan Church to put the game out of reach.
Santana was sparkling, but not dominant, giving up seven hits and a walk in his seven innings of work. According to the scoreboard radar reading, he never cracked 90 MPH, topping out at 89 in the early frames and then slowing to around 87-88 later in the contest.
Interestingly, the radar readings displayed on the MASN (Mid-Atlantic Sports Network) broadcast were consistently two miles per hour faster than those shown on the scoreboard. I know this because I was at the game and had the luxury of seeing both readings from a seat at the bar. Nationals Park is a fine place to watch a ballgame, BTW, and has that “new stadium smell”. There’s not a bad seat in the place, there were no lines at any of the concessions stands despite a packed house, and there are plenty of areas to lounge around with flat screen HD TVs on every wall. The corporate boxes look pretty sweet — I peeked my head into one — and all come with an outdoor deck with seating, so the high-rollers have the choice of staying indoors or watching the game outside. Even the restrooms are nice — yes, NICE. In fact the mens room had marble floors, new wallpaper, and porcelain sinks set in stylish Corian countertops. I thought I was in the restroom of a fancy NYC restaurant, rather than a ballpark. Amazing. I hope Citi Field includes similar features — in particular, I enjoyed the freedom of moving around the stadium to watch the game from different views (and drinking different brews).
Johan put three balls into the rightfield seats during batting practice prior to the game, so his two doubles — which were rips — weren’t a fluke. He wasn’t kidding when he said he wanted to play for the Mets so he could hit. Although, I did fear he’d pull a hammy while tearing around first base each time — the guy is a ballplayer, and hustles right out of the box.
Duaner Sanchez pitched a perfect eighth, striking out one and reaching 90 on the scoreboard gun (92 on TV). Billy Wagner extended his scoreless innings streak to seven in finishing the game.
On a negative note, Jose Reyes was disappointing in that there were two instances he came to bat with runners in scoring position, and he swung at the first pitch saw — both times resulting in weakly hit outs. The second time was the first pitch thrown by reliever Saul Rivera with Santana on second, and it resulted in the third out of the inning. I don’t mind first-pitch hitting if it’s successful, but I mind it greatly if the batter doesn’t get good wood on the ball. Jose has been over-anxious all season, and is going to see both his batting average and OBP continue to plummet until he changes his approach.
Speaking of first-pitch swinging, Carlos Delgado came to the plate in the sixth vs. Ray King with no outs and Ryan Church on second base. Delgado flailed at the first offering, and meekly popped the ball to Ryan Zimmerman. For a moment I thought Luis Castillo was at the plate — that’s how bad it looked. It’s not like King has hellacious stuff, so Delgado clearly does not have a plan at the plate. First pitch, man on 2B, he should be zoning an area that he can drive the ball to the outfield, and if he doesn’t get it, he should let it go. On that pitch he looked like he was protecting the plate on an 0-2 count. Ugly.
The Mets and Nats do it again at 7:10, with Oliver Perez facing Shawn Hill.