Apologies for the delayed post-game but here’s a quick rundown of last night’s contest, which the Nats took by a final score of 8-7.
Dillon Gee got the start and got rocked early, giving up 5 runs in the first 2 innings but settled down after that and finished with a 5 innings, 6-run effort. He struck out 6 while walking only one. The big blow came from the most unlikely of places. Rookie Nats pitcher Tom Milone, making his major league debut, went two perfect innings before coming to bat in the bottom of the 2nd with two on. On the first pitch he saw, Milone drove the Gee offering into right for a three-run blast to put the Nats up 5-0. Milone is just the 8th pitcher in major league history, and the first since Adam Wainwright, to hit a home run on the first pitch he sees in his career.
The Mets offense didn’t lay down though, even after falling behind by 5 runs early. In the fourth, Pagan drove in two runs with a single and Evans blasted a two-run homer to pull the Mets to within one. After Roger Benadina hit a solo shot to put the Nats up 2 in the 5th, Jason Bay snapped a Mets position player record 0-for-35 road slump with a 2-run bomb to tie it at 6. The only player with a longer hitless road streak than Bay? Al Leiter, who once went 0-for-70 on the road over a three year stretch. You know you can’t hit anymore when you’re being compared to Al Leiter.
Then, in the 7th with runners on the corners and one out, with 2 strikes against him, Duda came up with another clutch hit, lifting a sac fly that just missed going over the wall and put the Mets up 7-6. Duda is now 13-for-19 driving in the runner from third and less than 2 outs.
Beato and Herrera worked a scoreless 6th and Manny Acosta, who continues to get the ball in late and close situations, pitched a beautiful two innings, not allowing a hit, walking just one, and striking out 5. But then came the 9th. Former Mets farmhand Jesus Flores led off with a single and the pinch runner eventually moved to 2nd on a Parnell wild pitch. Not that it mattered, since Parnell walked Gomes shortly after. After Desmond sacrificed the runners to 2nd and 3rd, Parnell intentionally walked Bernadina to load the bases. Then, coming as a surprise to absolutely no one, Ryan Zimmerman blooped a single into right field where a diving Duda did everything he could to stop it from dropping, almost succeeding, but it rolled past him and the winning run came across. Final score, 8-7 Nats.
This one was disheartening because of how well the Mets picked up Gee after he struggled early. Instead of folding down 5, the Mets battled back and took the lead on offense and the bullpen looked like it was doing its job. Parnell had been good in the 9th up until this point and it’s surprising that the team that got to him is a group of exceptionally free swingers, but such is life with Bobby Parnell.
On another note, there was an interesting Aflac trivia question last night. The only other Met (than Reyes) to enter September leading the league in average was John Olerud in 1998, entering at .344, but finished second to Larry Walker (.363) with a .352 final average. Hopefully Reyes bucks that trend.
Today, the Mets try to win the series in Washington as Pelfrey (7-11, 4.65) takes on Livan Hernandez (8-12, 4.29) who is making his last start before Strasburg takes his rotation spot. Gotta think he’s gonna come out with some fire.