Mets Drop First Game of Year to Nationals

By Matt Musico

Well, you can’t win them all, right? However, it was nice to dream for a few days that New York would run the table all the way to a World Series title. Now, we’re back to reality with a 6-2 loss to the Nationals. The lineup was already going to look different since Josh Thole and Ike Davis were getting a day off due to lefty Ross Detwiler on the mound for Washington, but when news broke that David Wright fractured his pinkie and wouldn’t be in the lineup either, it left numerous holes that Terry Collins wasn’t anticipating on having.

Dillon Gee made his regular season debut as the team’s fifth starter, and he was happy to do it at home and against the Nationals, two scenarios which worked very well for him in 2011. This year didn’t follow that pattern, though. Gee gave up a lead off home run to Ian Desmond, immediately putting New York at a 1-0 deficit. After giving up the homer to Desmond, he settled down and danced in and out of some smaller jams over the next few innings, until he was touched up in the sixth inning by a Ryan Zimmerman double, Jayson Werth RBI single, a fielding error mixed in by Daniel Murphy, and then a Wilson Ramos double. The final line for Gee: 5.1 innings pitched, eight hits, four runs (three earned), one walk, and six strikeouts. Bobby Parnell and Miguel Batista gave up a run each during their time on the mound as well.That RBI single by Werth was one of four hits he collected last night, finally breaking him out of his early season funk.

The New York offense tried its hand at a second consecutive come-from-behind win once it reached the Nationals bullpen, touching up Craig Stammen and Tyler Clippard for a run a piece, but Washington continued to answer with runs of their own, keeping the deficit at four runs. The bright spots for the offense was again at the top of the order; Ruben Tejada put together another solid game in the lead off position, collecting a hit and drawing a walk. He’s continuing to show that he can handle the responsibility of pacing the offense. Ronny Cedeno played third in Wright’s absence and collected three hits and an RBI. If Wright is out for an extended period of time, Cedeno’s role may become very important.

Some areas for concern now that Wright will not be in the three-hole for a little while is the middle of the Mets lineup. Without Davis in the middle, the three-four-five hitters were Murphy, Bay, and Duda. I’m not worried about the production of Daniel Murphy, but not having ample protection behind him in the lineup will prevent him from seeing the pitches that he was seeing in the first four games of the year. Bay struck out two more times, and since the two-homer game from Lucas Duda, he’s been reasonably quiet. Ike Davis came in as a pinch hitter last night and struck out, again. That’s the seventh time he’s fanned in five games; not exactly the ratio that we’re looking for right now.

Even though everything that has gone right for this team in the first four games went wrong last night, the late inning rallies were a positive sign. Terry Collins has this team believing that the game isn’t over until that last out is recorded, and it’s refreshing to see the players continue to battle until the very end. One can tell that this team has a lot of character, which will bode well when the going gets tough.

Probable pitchers for today:

It will be a great match-up for fans going to Citi Field for an afternoon matinee. Johan Santana will make his second start of the year against the young and talented Stephen Strasburg at 1:10pm. The game can be seen on SNY.

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