This was a back and forth game that saw both the Mets and the Nationals come back after being down numerous times as they navigated into extra innings before Bryce Harper experienced what a walk off hit in the Major Leagues feels like. Last night’s game was not only a successful return for Chris Young to the MLB, but also for Miguel Batista as he threw two innings in middle relief. However, by the time the game was over, not many people even remembered that Young started the contest and threw five solid innings.
The Nationals started the scoring in the bottom of the 3rd inning; Danny Espinosa led things off with a bunt single, followed by stealing second base. He moved to third after a single by opposing pitcher Jordan Zimmerman, and then Byrce Harper drove him in with an RBI single. The Mets bats stayed silent for the next couple innings, allowing Washington to extend their lead in the bottom of the fifth. Young seemed to have a hard time retiring Zimmerman, who doubled in front of a Steve Lombardozzi walk. Harper struck out, but Ryan Zimmerman singled to center, scoring both runs thanks to a throwing error by Omar Quintanilla, extending the Nationals’ lead to 3-0.
Chris Young exited his first MLB start in 13 months after five innings and the Mets have to be encouraged with what they saw. He gave up six hits, one walk, and two earned runs on two strikeouts in the no decision. Once he made his exit from the game, the Mets offense woke up and
started one of their comebacks. In the sixth inning, both Jordany Valdespin and David Wright homered off of Zimmerman to cut the deficit to 3-2. Batista came in and kept the Nationals at bay, allowing New York to build another rally and take the lead in the top of the eighth.
Valdespin doubled to right with one out followed by a walk to Scott Hairston, which set the stage for Andres Torres, who has been productive of late following his mammoth slump. He answered with a two-run double, giving the Mets a 4-3 lead going into the late innings, hoping that the bullpen could make it stand up. Tonight was not one of those nights, unfortunately. Tim Byrdak came into the ballgame and recorded one out after giving up a lead off single to Ryan Zimmerman, giving way to Frank Francisco, who couldn’t strand him after Ian Desmond singled to right field to tie things back up. With neither team putting anything together in the ninth, they were headed for extra innings.
The Mets got a break as they faced Henry Rodriguez in the tenth inning; Scott Hairston singled and stole second to lead the inning off, then moved to third base on a Torres ground out. With David Wright at the plate, a wild pitch allowed Hairston to score the go-ahead run. Since Francisco already pitched, Terry Collins called upon Bobby Parnell to get the save. Valdespin didn’t give Parnell much support, as he committed two errors in the inning, allowing the tying run to score, blowing a golden opportunity for the Mets to take sole position of first place.
However, Scott Hairston bailed out the bullpen again by leading off the 12th inning with his eighth home run of the season, giving New York a 6-5 lead. Elvin Ramirez was in to save it in the bottom half of the inning, but again, the ‘pen couldn’t hold the lead. Michael Morse and Ian Desmond hit back-to-back doubles to tie the game up, then after wild pitch, Ramirez intentionally walked Jesus Flores and Ross Detwiler to load the bases. The spotlight was on Bryce Harper, and he didn’t disappoint, as the 19-year-old singled to left field to score the winning run, giving the Nats a 7-6 victory.
The loss is the second straight one-run defeat for the Mets, and they now drop to 31-25 and bumps them back down into the third place in the NL East, 1.5 games behind the Nationals and also looking up to the second-place Marlins. This is a frustrating loss for obvious reasons, but the question arises that the shorthanded bullpen got bit because they didn’t have enough bodies down there, as Ramirez threw 1.2 innings and 47 pitches last night in his appearance. The offense didn’t necessarily perform well either; David Wright, Josh Thole, Scott Hairston, and Jordany Valdespin all collected two hits each, but the Mets as a whole went 1-for-10 with runners in scoring position, leaving eight men on base. Obviously, the three errors are a reason as well, and even though Valdespin has played a lot of shorstop this year in Triple-A, I doubt he’s going to get anymore time there.
Probable pitchers Wednesday:
New York will try to get things back on track tonight in the nation’s capital as Terry Collins sends Jeremy Hefner (1-2, 5.60 ERA) to the mound. This would have been Johan Santana‘s rotation spot, but he’s been pushed back two days to get some extra rest. Hefner’s last appearance was his first MLB win, giving up three runs in six innings against the Phillies. He will be opposing Edwin Jackson (1-3, 3.17 ERA), who has had some bad luck along the way, as his record is not indicative of his effectiveness. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05pm at Nationals Park.