The Mets didn’t think they were about to just waltz in here and win a three-game series, did they?
The Nationals were the winners on yesterday’s rainy Sunday afternoon, defeating the Mets by a score of 5-3.
It was a perfect storm (ha ha, rain pun) of pitching and hitting for the Nationals, as home runs by Bryce Harper and Danny Espinosa backed a solid performance on the mound by Gio Gonzalez. Gonzalez gave up just one run over 5.2 innings; issuing just two walks on three strikeouts. However, Gonzalez quickly reached 110 pitches (67 for strikes), forcing him out of the game in exchange for Craig Stammen.
Luckily, Stammen and his bullpen counterparts would inherit a four-run lead, as the Nationals bats got to Mets starter Jeremy Hefner for five runs over five innings.
Espinosa would strike first. After a leadoff single by Michael Morse, Espinosa would hit his fourteenth homer of the season to left-center to give the Nats an early 2-0 lead.
Washington would then repeat that scoring effort in the third inning, led by three straight hits to lead off the inning. A Bryce Harper triple would score leadoff man Jayson Werth, and would then be followed by Ryan Zimmerman’s RBI-single to left field.
Harper would strike again in the bottom of the fifth, leading off the inning with a solo-shot to right field to give the good guys a 5-0 lead.
The bullpen would then give up just one run over 3.1 innings, and Tyler Clippard would notch his 27th save on the year. Nationals pitchers stranded 10 Mets base runners as Washington went on to collect the 5-2 victory and the series win over the Mets.
Champ of the Game: Bryce Harper walks home with the hardware tonight. Though Danny Espinosa did hit two-run dinger, Harper produced runs in multiple at-bats.
For the Mets, newly-acquired catcher Kelly Shoppach reached base three times, including two hits and a walk, and also collected an RBI.
Chump of the Game: Adam LaRoche went 0-4 from the clean-up spot and stranded three base runners. LaRoche is lucky to be surrounded by a clutch-hitting lineup that can cover him on his off nights.
For the Mets, it’s self-explanatory that when your starter gives up five and goes less than six innings, he’s always the chump.
Unsung Hero: Gio, Espinosa and Harper got all the headlines tonight, so Ryan Zimmerman takes home the Unsung Hero award. Ryan went 2-4 and drove in an RBI in the third inning.
For the Mets, the bullpen pitched the final four frames scoreless. The bullpen has been a weak spot for the Mets but came through tonight.
Next Game: The Nationals open up a three-game series against the division-rival Atlanta Braves tomorrow night at Nationals Park. First pitch is at 7:05 ET as Jordan Zimmermann (9-7, 2.38 ERA) looks to out-duel veteran Tim Hudson (12-4, 3.59 ERA). The Nationals will look to use this series as a chance to build on their current five-game lead over the Braves in the NL East, as a series-sweep by either team makes things much more interesting with September on the way.