WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 31: Willie Harris #22 of the New York Mets is tagged out trying to steal second base by second baseman Danny Espinosa #18 of the Washington Nationals during the first inning at Nationals Park on July 31, 2011 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Scott Hairston tied the game at two with a solo homer in the top of the ninth inning and two outs but Bobby Parnell allowed a game-winning fielder's choice to Ian Desmond in the bottom half of the frame to seal the Mets' fate. Jesus Flores singled to lead off the ninth and Parnell hit Rick Ankiel with the next pitch. After a failed bunt attempt by Brian Bixler and a wild pitch, Desmond ended it with a weak infield grounder over Parnell that went to Willie Harris. Ankiel busted it down the line from third base and beat Harris's throw.
After scoring 38 runs in 5 games this past Monday through Friday, the Mets mustered just 2 runs on Saturday and Sunday combined. Today's nemesis was talented young Nationals pitcher Jordan Zimmermann, who struck out six Mets in six innings, allowing no runs while scattering seven singles and walking one. Hairston accounted for both runs, the first on a pinch-hit solo homer off Nats reliever Sean Burnett in the seventh inning, the second on the aforementioned +36.5% WPA bomb in the ninth off Drew Storen. Live your life like Scott Hairston swings the bat and you'll either be homeless or a billionaire.
Jon Niese started for the Mets and looked terrific through five innings. He kept the Nats off the scoreboard, while striking out six, walking none and giving up just four hits. He was also economical with his pitches (69 pitches through 5 innings), and it looked like a special day for the Mets' best pitcher. But things quickly fell apart in the sixth. He allowed three straight doubles to start the inning, to Desmond, Ryan Zimmerman and Mike Morse, which made the score 2-0. After inducing Jayson Werth to groundout, Niese was pulled following a Danny Espinosa single. Ryota Igarashi played mid-innings fireman by striking out the two batters he faced to send the game to the seventh, but the damage was done.
That second Hairston homer sure was fun. It was a fantasy wiffleball scenario ("ninth inning, down a run, two outs, ace reliever on the mound...") and he came through. Very cool. Hairston now has an .894 OPS and probably deserves some more playing time.
The Metsies start a three game series against the Marlins at home on Monday. The first game is at 7:10 PM and the pitching matchup is Javier Vazquez vs. Mike Pelfrey.