Monday, July 23, 2012

Game #96: Nationals 8, Mets 2 (10)

Bryce Harper rounds the bases in the first inning after his two-run homer against Mets starter Chris Young. (
Midwestern Met makes its return to nightly recaps, but the game tonight is the "same as it ever was."

After keeping a lid on the Washington offense for 9 innings, Bryce Harper led a charge through the paper-thin New York bullpen as the Nationals thrashed the Mets late for a series-opening 8-2 win.

The Bad Stuff:
  • With Chipper Jones retiring at the end of this season, the position of "Met killer" is currently up for grabs. But with his 2-run homer to start the game and go-ahead single in the top of the 10th, Bryce Harper may have sewn it up. The Washington kid's latest audition for the role of nemesis was even more frustrating for Mets fans than his previous audition a month and a half ago in another extra-inning Nationals win. Coincidentally that was the first game I missed covering during my six-week excursion to the Emerald Isle. Turns out that whole trip gets bookended by Met-killings by this kid who I'm pretty convinced will be a future Hall-of-Famer if he stays healthy and stays out of trouble. And guess what, Met fans? He's 19 freakin' years old. We're going to have to deal with this for 20 more years. Think Bryce would be call if we started calling him Larry?
  • I can't add anything new to say about the bullpen. You know what kind of shape it's in by now. The only new development is that Pedro Beato, who allowed most of those 6 runs in the 10th to score, has been optioned to Buffalo to make room for Matt Harvey.
  • This time, though, the bullpen was also failed by New York gloves. Ruben Tejada dropped a sure double play ball from Tim Byrdak in the 10th that would've given the Mets 2 down and no men on in that fateful inning. Ruben tried to turn it before he secured it and paid the price both in-game and physically, getting spiked by Roger Bernadina in the process. He appears to be okay, despite a couple gashes in his right shin.
  • Aside from two individual swings (see Good Stuff below), the Met offense was completely anemic tonight. It was so ineffective tonight that the team's usual trademark of failure, RISP, doesn't even reflect it. They only went 0-4, meaning they couldn't even get guys to second before failing to score them. Ouch.
  • Jason Bay, enough said.
The Good Stuff:
  • Those two good swings came from the bats of David Wright and Ike Davis, who hit the 15th home runs of each of their seasons in the 4th and 7th innings respectively to tie the game at 2.
  • Wright and Davis helped redeem Chris Young, who after allowing 3 hits and Harper's home run in the 1st settled in and didn't allow a hit for the rest of his 7 innings, including retiring 14 men in a row between the 3rd and 7th.
  • Despite his fielding miscue in the 10th, Ruben Tejada had an otherwise good game, going 3-4 to increase his batting average to .318. Sure, he's no Bryce Harper, but 22-year-old Tejada has all the makings of a soon-to-be All-Star himself.
Final Analysis:
Mike Nichols on MetsBlog tonight started his recap by saying "when it rains, it pours." I'd like to take that a step further: we're in typhoon mode with a plastic Wal-Mart bag for a roof. 10 of 11, 2 games under .500, no end in sight. The only question that remains at this point is how far left we have to the bottom.


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