Mets 3 Nationals 1
Sparked by fearless leader Carlos Beltran, the New York Mets showed tremendous resolve, grittiness, determination, and gumption in beating the Washington Nationals in ten innings.
Beltran led the offense with a booming double in the first frame, but was thrown out at third trying to stretch it into a triple. Sometimes he just can’t contain his exuberance. But, his aggressiveness clearly motivated the rest of the lineup, as the Mets rallied for a run in the very next inning. David Wright — who obviously was watching Beltran and taking notes from the on-deck circle — led off the second with a double himself, and raced to third on a flyout by Dan Murphy. Wright then scored on a grounder that Fernando Tatis pulverized into the infield dirt.
The Mets didn’t score again until the tenth, but in the meantime took things personally and played better than they did in Pittsburgh.
Tim Redding threw six brilliant innings, allowing just six hits, two walks, and a run, and the bullpen combination of Brian Stokes, Bobby Parnell, Sean Green, and Frankie Rodriguez did not embarrass themselves through the last four frames, shutting out the Nats and allowing only one hit.
Captain Beltran sparked the rally in the top of the tenth, walking on four straight pitches to push the winning run, Luis Castillo, to second base. Again inspired by his teammate, David Wright lashed a double to right-center to score both runners.
K-Rod finished off the Nats 1-2-3 to earn his 15th save. He dedicated it to Beltran in an emotional outburst after striking out the final hitter of the game.
Knowing in their hearts that they were not as good as the Mets, the Nationals desperately tried to give away outs and provide golden opportunities for their opponent to run away with the game, but the Mets refused their advances, preferring instead to win the game on the level. In addition to handing the Mets’ batters seven free passes, on several occasions, they threw balls away, let them drop safely in the outfield, and skip past the catcher, but all to no avail.
Performing in Beltran’s shadow, David Wright went 4-for-5, though two of the hits weren’t exactly line drives. For example, his “double” in the second was actually a routine popup that should’ve been handled easily by shortstop Christian Guzman, but Guzman never ran after it and the ball fell safely in front of a diving Adam Dunn. He’s hitting .338, though it doesn’t seem like it.
Speaking of that Guzman gaffe, Keith Hernandez finally expressed a rare critical assessment of Manny Acta (aka Connie Mackta). He astutely pointed out that Acta routinely makes excuses for his players when they don’t hustle. Interestingly, now that Acta is on the hot seat, he gave Guzman a stern talking-to between the innings after that muffed popup. It may be too little, too late … but, no doubt the Mets will welcome Acta back with open arms if he finds himself unemployed (watch out, Jerry!).
Captain Beltran would have been on third standing up in his first at-bat, had he simply HUSTLED out of the box. Instead, the “leader” watched his long fly ball, and jogged around first, jogged toward second, then decided to “turn it on” after he rounded second base. I don’t know if his legs are hurting, or he was concerned about the muddy basepaths, but he likely wouldn’t have been caught dogging it had he simply stayed on second base. Never mind this is like the umpteenth time Beltran has made either the first or third out at third base in the last three years … it’s hard to stomach all this talk of Beltran’s leadership after watching him take his time on that blast.
While we’re on the subject of running and not running, in the top of the seventh, Fernando Martinez attempted a sacrifice that rolled foul. Ironically, Ron Villone — the pitcher last week when F-Mart chose not to run on an infield popup — was again the pitcher. Catcher Josh Bard alertly allowed the ball to roll, in case it spun into fair territory (it was only about a foot, maybe less, from the baseline), because Martinez never left the batter’s box. I’m not picking on F-Mart here — I can’t, not when the “leader” is making assumptions on long fly balls, and not when his manager doesn’t make hustling a priority. Rather, I’m pointing out that this team continues to run hard only when they feel like it, rather than all the time. And also pointing out that, despite all the “he’ll never do THAT again!” rants, Martinez DID do it again, only this time the ball remained foul and wasn’t nearly as glaring a gaffe as last week’s popup. And why did he do it again? Because he wasn’t disciplined the first time. Again — it’s not F-Mart’s fault, but rather the fault of Mets management and the lazy, loser approach to the game that they’ve cultivated.
(BTW, did you notice I used “gaffe” twice in this post, without mentioning Brent Gaff?)
I still can’t figure out how Redding made it through six innings allowing only one run. It seemed like every inning the Nats were a hit away from breaking the game wide open. My guess is the Nationals hitters were distracted by the possum hanging for dear life from his chin (I’m surprised he hasn’t heard from PETA about that yet). In any case, it was a much-needed outing, both for the depleted Mets and for the veteran’s survival on the roster.
Next Mets Game
The Mets and Nationals play again in soggy DC on Saturday night at 7:05 PM. John Maine faces John Lannan.