Bobby Parnell pitched awful tonight, en route to blowing the save and then the game in the ninth inning. However, it's hard to be all that frustrated by him. He's pitched great this season; heading into tonight's game, he owned a 1.85 ERA, backed up strong peripherals. There is no other Mets reliever I would rather see enter a game in a big spot. Blown saves happen -- recall Mariano Rivera's Citi Field disaster last week -- and tonight will be forgiven, as long as it doesn't become a habit.
It's much easier to be frustrated by the Mets' offense. Since about week four of the season it's been terrible, and tonight was no different. The Mets' lineup went 4-for-30 with one walk tonight against Jordan Zimmermann and Tyler Clippard. Only Omar Quintanilla and Jordany Valdespin tallied base hits (two apiece), and the Mets' two runs were aided by an Adam LaRoche throwing error. Quintanilla's two-run triple in the fifth inning, two batters after LaRoche botched a double-play ball hit by Rick Ankiel, was the offensive highlight of the game. It's not fun watching the Mets' offense right now.
Jeremy Hefner did well for himself, giving his team a chance to win despite the lack of run support. He pitched seven strong innings, giving up just one run while striking out seven. The run came on an Ian Desmond solo home run in the second inning. Home runs continue to be Hefner's major bugaboo this season; he's now surrendered 11 longballs in 64 innings. The Nationals mustered only one real rally against him, in the sixth inning. With one out, Denard Span and Jayson Werth hit back-to-back singles, bringing up Ryan Zimmerman. Hef got the best of Zim though, striking him out on a 92-mph fastball. After walking LaRoche, Hefner induced Desmond to ground out to end the frame. The seventh inning went smoothly for Hefner.
Brandon Lyon started the eighth inning with a 2-1 lead and sent the Nats down one-two-three. It looked like the Mets might win game one of the series when Parnell entered in the ninth inning. It was not to be. Zimmerman led off with a double and moved to third base on a wild pitch. LaRoche then singled home Zimmerman, tying the score 2-2. Desmond followed with a double, the third hard-hit ball off Parnell in a row. However, it didn't score the slow-footed LaRoche, so Parnell intentionally walked Roger Bernadina to load the bases. Up stepped Steve Lombardozzi, who hit a game-winning sacrifice fly to left field on the ninth pitch of his at-bat. Nationals win, 3-2.
Some bullet notes and thoughts:
- Hefner has a case as the Mets' second-best starting pitcher this season, depending on your feelings about ERA vs defense-independent pitching statistics. He now has the second-best ERA on the team (4.36), behind only you-know-who. Not bad for a long-man/fifth-starter type.
- Lucas Duda went 0-for-4 and his OPS is below .800. John Buck went 0-for-4 and his OPS is below .700.
- Ankiel's OPS is now .641; it was .715 when the Astros cut him. He continues to play every day for some reason, while young Juan Lagares rots on the bench. Other younger and probably better options reside in the Mets' minor-league system. I'm not sure what the heck Sandy Alderson and Terry Collins think they have in Ankiel.
- Quintanilla now has one home run and one triple in the five games he's played since being called up to replace the injured Ruben Tejada. Since 2011, spanning 1,081 plate appearances, Tejada also has one home run and one triple.
The Mets have now lost four in a row and have a record of 22-33, putting them 12.5 games behind the first-place Braves in the NL East. They play the Nationals tomorrow at 7:05 pm, with Dillon Gee vs Dan Haren the pitching matchup.
Unintentionally sexual quote of the game: "He'll find a dark room, whether it's here at the stadium or back at the hotel room, turn the lights off, lay down, and just visualize." -- Kevin Burkhardt on Dillon Gee's visualization techniques
SB Nation Coverage
Win Probability Added
Big winners: Omar Quintanilla +32.3%, Jeremy Hefner +32.1% (as pitcher)
Big losers: Bobby Parnell -81.5%, Daniel Murphy -14.1%
Teh aw3s0mest play: Omar Quintanilla two-RBI triple in the fifth inning, +27.3%
Teh sux0rest play: Ryan Zimmerman double in the ninth inning, -24.3%
Total pitcher WPA: -36.1%
Total batter WPA: -13.9%
GWRBI!: Steve Lombardozzi sacrifice fly in the ninth inning