Sunday, July 31, 2011

Game #108: Nationals 3, Mets 2

Willie Harris is tagged out by Danny Espinosa trying to steal second base in the first inning. (NYDailyNews.com)
One minute, Scott Hairston had brought the Mets back from the dead. The next minute, Rick Ankiel sent them back to dead.

Ankiel's baserunning in the bottom of the 9th generated the winning run for the Nationals, who handed the Mets a 3-2 defeat and series loss.

The Bad Stuff:
  • The offense was nonexistent for the first 6 innings; in fact, dating back to the 7th inning Friday, the Mets had gone 18 straight innings without scoring a run. Opportunities were missed in the 3rd (bases loaded, 1 out; Daniel Murphy's baserunning blunder creates the double play) and the 6th (balk puts runners on second and third, Angel Pagan and Jason Bay strike out).
  • After the Scott Hairston show tied the game in the top of the 9th, Bobby Parnell came on and let it slip from his hands. A single and hit batsman put runners on, then after a fantastic Keith Hernandez play from Murphy to get the out at third, Parnell let one just get away from Josh Thole, allowing Rick Ankiel to advance to third. Ian Desmond then bounced a groundball just out of Parnell's reach, and Ankiel came home to give Washington the W.
The Good Stuff:
  • Jon Niese, on the hook till the last moment, pitched well enough that he should have won: 5 1/3 innings, 2 runs on 8 hits, no walks, 6 strikeouts.
  • Ryota Igarashi, Pedro Beato, and Tim Byrdak combined for 2 2/3 innings of scoreless, 1-hit ball to keep the game in reach.
  • In the top of the 7th, Terry Collins sent Scott Hairston up to pinch hit for a struggling Lucas Duda. Hairston made him look good, depositing a 2-2 sinker deep into the left center stands. Then in the 9th, with 2 out and no men on against Nationals' closer Drew Storen, Hairston made Terry look like a genious, getting a hold of a 1-0 sinker and launching it over the fence to tie the game. The bombs were Hairston's 6th and 7th longballs of the year, which ties him for second on the team (just one behind David Wright's 8).
  • Jose Reyes appeared to get back on track with his 49th multi-hit game of the season (going 2-4). Daniel Murphy also had two hits, keeping himself in the top 3 in the NL in batting average.
Final Analysis:
Not gonna lie, this was disappointing. The Mets had their chances, but uncharacteristically couldn't capitalize on them.

The team finishes its 10-game road trip with a 6-4 record with a 4-game sweep in Cincinnati, but series losses in Florida and Washington, teams New York should have beaten. We'll take the 6-4, that's pretty good, but they could have done so much more.

Now the Mets return home for a 10-game homestand: they'll face those very familiar Florida Marlins (3 games), the Braves (3 games), and they'll have the Padres for 4. With the season 2/3 of the way through, the Mets have one of their final really great chances to gain some ground on the push to shock the world. It's gonna take series wins to do that.

MM

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