Another loss, and after last night’s excitement, sloppy as it was, this was definitely a bit of a snoozer of a game. A fine start by Edwin Jackson, the Mets never really came close to getting a real rally going, the Nats scored when they had the chances to, and each time the Mets got closer, Washington soon put another run on the board. Really, just a well-played game by a young, solid, improving team.
Jeremy Hefner did his best, which is unfortunately just mediocre at this level. A “quality” start maybe, but not really high quality. After rookie phenom Bryce Harper reached on Murphy’s first error of the game in the bottom of the first and Ryan Zimmerman walked, Adam LaRoche blasted a home run over the right field fence, and, for all intents and purposes, this was the game.
The Mets never managed much offense tonight, failing to even have two men on base at the same time. Omar Quintanilla played a good game, walked to lead off the third, was sacrificed to second by Hefner, and scored on Kirk’s single to right. David Wright led off the fourth with a single to right and then charged all the way to third on Edwin Jackson’s very errant pickoff throw. Duda plated Wright with a groundout to short to cut it to 3-2.
Singles by Zimmerman, LaRoche, and right fielder Mike Morse moved the score to 4-2 in the fifth. Ike doubled to lead off the seventh, and scored on a Quintanilla sacrifice fly, but left fielder Stephen Lombardozzi walked to lead off the bottom of the frame, was moved around by a Harper single and a Zimmerman pop out to Ike, and scored on a LaRoche sac fly to put the score at 5-3, where it would remain.
Sean Burnett retired the Mets in order in the eighth, and while Duda led off the ninth with a walk off of Tyler Clippard, the Mets managed no more offense, and lost 5-3 in a lackluster game.
Plays of the Game:
Not much to choose from here, but LaRoche’s first inning 3-run blast must be the choice. The Mets never mustered anything close to a real rally threat, and aside from LaRoche’s shot, the Nats just cobbled together their other runs. Just a solid game from the Nats with fine pitching, and a few timely hits; nothing spectacular. But, that is how good teams win many, many games.
Players of the Game:
Adam LaRoche and Edwin Jackson. LaRoche’s blast in the first gave the Nats the lead they would never lose, and his sacrifice fly in the seventh immediately got back the run they gave the Mets in the top of the inning.
What’s to Like:
Well, hard to say tonight. The Nats’ pitching? Davey in first place again? I suppose Ike walking twice, smacking a double, and making a very nice play in the field could be the highlights.
Quintanilla did field his position at shortstop well, which, after Valdespin and Murph’s how-not-to-do-it fielding clinics the last two nights, was a nice development.
What’s Not to Like:
Murph’s fielding. It’s just awful. He is better than expected, pretty good at the double play, but still is just not a real second baseman.
The bullpen. We had better hope that some combo of improved results and/or new blood improves things. Otherwise we have a serious problem here, as Young, Niese, and Gee are all six inning pitchers.
The strange miscommunication on the non-appeal play in the seventh. After Lombardozzi took third on Zimmerman’s flyout to short right, the Mets were set up for an appeal play but Byrdak threw a pitch instead; hard to place blame, but it seems as though this may have been Thole’s place to take charge. The appeal might not have resulted in an out, but this still was a disappointing turn of events in a very sloppy two-game stretch for the Mets.
Why the Nats are Good:
Much like the tried and true real estate wisdom, there are three reasons: pitching, pitching, and pitching. First in ERA, H, and R allowed is a pretty good way for a team to to conduct itself. Four of the five starters have WHIPS under 1.07, and EVERY pitcher who sees significant action has a WHIP under 1.32. This is simply outstanding. Bryce Harper is 19, and appears to have every tool there is, and Stephen Strasburg has roared back from surgery without missing a beat. Perhaps hardest for Met fans to face is that their leader once was ours; Davey Johnson has spent most of his adult life in first place or darn close to it, and we just might be watching him get comfortable there once again. Maybe part of the reason he took the Nats’ job was Strasburg and Harper, but surely the blonde interviewer from local DC news in the above picture had to be an incentive as well. She’s cuter than Chris Carlin.
Well, two walks and an opposite field double may not be much, but for Ike, it is almost a career night. Patience at the plate was obvious tonight, and let us—once again—hope this is the beginning of the renaissance. Ike hitting like he did in 2010 would be a tremendous boost for this team. But the weak double play-type grounder in the ninth was a crude reminder of Ike’s 2012 season.
Daniel Murphy. Murphy remains a fan favorite, but time seems to be catching up with him. Zero power, zero speed, and an increasing list of poor plays at second. Nine errors, several more misplays not counted as errors, and a batting average and OBP which simply are becoming harder to look at and conclude that this is the long-tern answer at second.
What to Think About Tonight:
The Mets may indeed have suffered a bit of a hangover from last night’s epic and hugely disappointing loss. The usual 2012 energy was missing, and this seemed like an odd misfit of a game for this group. Let’s hope Dickey sets the tone for a return to what has been normal high quality play from this team.
The Nats are good, and are not going anywhere. The Mets miss Strasburg and Gonzalez and still face some very good pitching and a never-say-die team led by an excellent manager. The Mets have to simply keep plugging along-they now are 27-26 since the 4-0 start, which may be disappointing to some, but is most definitely a very positive development considering the roster, the payroll cuts, the expectations, and really, just about every aspect of the team except for some of the starting pitching and some aspects of the offense. All of the clutch hits, the dominance of Johan and Dickey, the record against winning teams-there remain a lot of positives here. The next couple of weeks are going to be very tough, but if the big two starters can keep rolling and the team can remain above .500 through this stretch, they will get healthier and the schedule will ease, and the team can continue its improbable march to a .500 season or better.
Who Sponsored Tonight’s Postgame:
Herradura Anejo tequila. A true top-shelf tequila. Dry and lacking the excessive sweetness of some other fine tequilas, Herradura Anejo is ultra-smooth and has a fantastic barrel-aged finish. Highly recommended for weeknight road games. For the upcoming series in Yankee Stadium, we recommend something like Booker’s bourbon, which varies slightly in alcoholic content, but generally is about 127-128 proof.
Where We’re Going:
One more in DC before the brutality continues, with three games in Yankee Stadium over the weekend, followed by a three game trip to Tampa. The Mets are now a still-respectable 3-3 in the first six games of this 22-game endurance test.
What’s On Tap:
Tomorrow at 1:05 PM the series concludes, with Cy Young candidate R. A. Dickey going against Chien Ming Wang. While Dickey has thus far been enjoying a career year, Wang continues his comeback following a long road back from surgery. On paper, the Mets have to like this matchup, as our co-ace goes against a mediocre offensive team.
Not time to panic yet, but a sweep and a 1-5 record against the Nats would not be a good way to continue to build our rivalry with Davey and the very tough Nats. Dickey should be able to beat this lineup; let’s hope the offense can come alive to help him out.