The Nationals got burned in Friday night’s game at Nationals Park by two of the Mets that the Nats can’t solve–pitcher Dillon Gee and woeful hitter Ike Davis. Despite Jordan Zimmerman pitching well in another quality start, the Nationals lost to the Mets 3-2 in a game that clipped along time wise but felt listless while the game was being played.
Gee displayed his usual dominance of Nats hitters. For some reason, the Nats hitters can’t solve Gee. He has been pitching very well since the all star break, but his ERA against the Nats is a full run and a half lower than against all other teams.
The only two runs the Nationals scored were on home runs. Wilson Ramos blasted one in the bottom of the third inning and Steve Lombardozzi cranked one in the bottom of the eighth inning when he was pinch hitting against Gee. That was Lombo’s second home run of the year and got the Nats to within a run. Unfortunately, the Nats could not push across any other runs during the game.
In the top of the fourth, after the Nats had taken the lead on the Ramos homer, the Mets Ike Davis hit a home run of his own. Daniel Murphy (the other problem Met for the Nats) singled to lead off the inning. Zimmerman induced a pop up from Andrew Brown for the first out. Up came Davis. He crushed Zimmerman’s first pitch–a hanging change up–for a two run homer. Davis has a penchant for hitting home runs against the Nationals. He has hit nine all year, four of them given up by Nats pitchers. That gave the Mets a 2-1 lead.
Nationals Manager Davey Johnson was unwell (light headed from dehydration, he says) and turned the game over to bench coach Randy Knorr in the fourth inning. (Note to Davey–its August in DC, drink more water.)
The Mets scored another run in the top of the eighth. With Zimmerman still pitching, Murphy doubled into the left field corner with two outs. Brown smoked a ground ball down the third base line. Ryan Zimmerman made a fantastic play to get to the ball, but made an ill advised throw to first instead of just eating the ball and keeping the Mets to two on, two out. When Zimmerman lobbed the ball to Adam LaRoche, Murphy was already running to third with two outs, and he kept going. LaRoche could not corral the throw in time to go home, and Murphy scored what turned out to be the decisive run.
The Nationals had opportunities in the bottom of the eighth. With two outs, Lombardozzi hit his home run. Gee then gave up back to back singles to Denard Span and Ryan Zimmerman. With two on and two out, Bryce Harper came to the plate. The Mets brought in lefty specialist Scott Rice to face Harper. Up to that point, Harper had grounded out to the second baseman three times facing Gee. Rice went 3-0 on Harper, and he got the green light. He fouled off the next offering, then swung at what was probably ball four. On the next pitch Harper ground out again to second base to end the inning.
Harper did not run hard down the line, and Murphy momentarily bobbled the ball. He recovered and threw Harper out at first. I don’t think even if Harper was running like his hair was on fire he would have beat the throw–it wasn’t that much of a bobble by Murphy and the play-by-play guys on MASN didn’t even comment on it. However, Harper’s failure to run hard on the grounder has become a mini issue. Randy Knorr called him out for it after the game. Knorr has been more outspoken about player performance when he is in charge than Johnson has been. Harper at the time was obviously frustrated that he had not produced in his at bat, and bounced his helmet off the ground after the inning was over.
Ryan Mattheus worked a scoreless top of the ninth, and looked better than he had since returning from the minors.
LaTroy Hawkins closed for the Mets. He faced Werth, Desmond and LaRoche, none of whom could produce against the Mets closer.
Next Game: The Nationals play the Mets again Saturday night at 7:05 p.m. EST in the second game of the series. Dan Haren (8-11, 4.66 ERA) pitches against Zack Wheeler (6-3, 3.42 ERA) in a matchup of veteran starter vs. young arm.