Even if the Mets could send R.A. Dickey to the mound every night for the rest of the season, the team might win just a handful of games. In the first of three games against the visiting Washington Nationals, Gio Gonzalez struggled to find the strike zone against the Mets, but they were still able to score just one run in the game.
It wouldn't be fair, of course, to place all of the blame on the Mets' lack of run-scoring ability. In his third start in the big leagues, Collin McHugh got rocked as he gave up three home runs that plated five runs in total in four innings. After pitching well in the first two innings, McHugh began to get into trouble in the third.
Kurt Suzuki began the inning with what should have been a pop out behind the plate, but the ball hit Kelly Shoppach's glove, popped out, and fell to the ground. In response to his fellow catcher's error, Suzuki hit a home run to give the Nationals the first run of the game. McHugh retired the next two batters he faced, but he walked Bryce Harper to bring up Ryan Zimmerman. McHugh had walked Harper in the first inning, too, but there are only so many times a pitcher can do that before it comes back to bite him in the ass. This time, Zimmerman took McHugh deep — very deep — to puts the Nationals up by three.
The Mets' best chance to really make a game of it came in the bottom of the inning. Gio got a couple of quick outs but walked Ruben Tejada and Ronny Cedeno and ran the count full against David Wright. But then he dropped a nasty curve that sliced through the strike zone and ended the inning. A hit would have been great, but with Scott Hairston on deck, a walk by Wright could have worked out quite well.
In the fifth, Michael Morse reached on an infield single on which his shattered bat took a nearly identical path as the ball, which meant David Wright wasn't able to turn the grounder into an out. Ian Desmond then hit the Nats' third home run of the game, and the Mets were down by five.
Hairston led off the bottom of the inning with a bomb of his own, but it was too little, too late. Neither the Mets nor the Nationals scored again in the game.
If there was a positive for the Mets in this one, it was the team's young relief pitching. Although they weren't pitching in high-leverage situations, Elvin Ramirez and Jeurys Familia each threw a pair of scoreless innings. Ramirez struck out four and walked two, and Familia put together two perfect innings that included a strikeout.
The Mets will attempt to win a game at home with R.A. Dickey on the mound on Tuesday evening. Here's hoping the lineup can score a run or two in support of the Cy Young candidate.
Big winners: Ruben Tejada, +7.5% WPA
Big losers: Collin McHugh, -27.3% WPA
Teh aw3s0mest play: Ian Desmond's 6-3 ground out with one out and a runner on third in the second inning, +6.2% WPA
Teh sux0rest play: Ryan Zimmerman's two-run home run in the third, -19.1% WPA
Total pitcher WPA: -22.3% WPA
Total batter WPA: -27.7% WPA
GWRBI!: Ryan Zimmerman