After the Mets' 11-0 drubbing of the Nationals on Friday afternoon, our heroes were actually one game ahead of the Nats in the loss column. That says more about the Nationals' struggles than anything, but still, who predicted the Mets and Nats would be this close in the standings so late in the season? Maybe the NL East isn't so tough, and the Mets can contend in 2014 after an offseason of spending by Sandy Alderson. Unfortunately, the Mets dropped game two of the day-night doubleheader at Nationals Park by a score of 2-1, wasting a chance to move up in the race for second place in the division. The loss came despite another dominant performance from Matt Harvey, otherwise known as the #1 reason to be optimistic about the Mets' future.
Harvey was economical with his pitches tonight, needing just 99 of them to make it through eight innings. That's about 12 pitches per inning; compare to his season average of 15 pitches per inning. He struck out seven, walked one, and allowed one unearned run on five hits. He induced more ground balls than usual too; the Mets turned two double plays behind him, and would have turned three, had Daniel Murphy not thrown the ball away in the fifth inning on an easy double-play grounder. That error led to the only run Harvey allowed. With runners on first and second with one out, Wilson Ramos hit a ground ball up the middle that shortstop Justin Turner made a fantastic play on. Turner flipped it to Murphy, who had plenty of time to nail the slow-running Ramos at first base. Murph freaked out though, and through the ball nowhere near first base. He rushed it. Jayson Werth came around to score from second base on the play, tying the game 1-1.
The Mets had previously taken a 1-0 lead in the fourth inning, thanks to an RBI double from John Buck that drove in Josh Satin. Buck has quietly been better of late, posting an OPS of .842 in July entering Friday's action. Buck's RBI double opened and closed the scoring for the Mets, unfortunately.
Despite having at least two runners reach base in three other innings, the Mets just couldn't come up with a big hit against Ross Ohlendorf, Tyler Clippard, and Rafael Soriano. In the seventh inning, with starting pitcher Ohlendorf laboring at 110+ pitches, David Wright came up to bat with runners on first and second with two outs. It seemed like Davey Johnson might have left his starter in too long, until Wright popped up on the first pitch to end the inning. I thought Wright would come through in the spot, but at least he put a strong swing on a hittable pitch.
The Mets had an even better chance to score in the ninth inning. With one out, Andrew Brown hit a double, and went to third base on a wild pitch. After pinch-hitter Ike Davis walked, Juan Lagares stepped up to the plate, with the Mets needing just a sacrifice fly to take a 2-1 lead. On a 3-1 count, Lagares swung at a questionable pitch and popped up to first base. Murphy, the hero of the afternoon, came up next, but flew out to center field to end the inning. That would be the Mets' last at-bat of the game.
LaTroy Hawkins came on in relief of Harvey to start the ninth inning. After Anthony Rendon grounded out to start the frame, Ryan Zimmerman stepped up to the plate. Hawkins fell behind in the count 3-1, then threw a 96 mph fastball high in the strike zone, right in Zimmerman's wheelhouse. The Nats third baseman deposited the pitch into the right-center field stands, winning the game 2-1.
I saw some people on Twitter complaining about Terry Collins going to Hawkins in the ninth inning instead of the Mets' best reliever, Bobby Parnell. I understand the sentiment -- managing to the save rule is silly -- but I can't get too upset about it. Had Collins gone to Scott Rice or Gonzalez Germen, I'd be complaining. But Hawkins has been quite good this season, almost as good as Parnell, in fact. Choosing him for the ninth inning was acceptable.
Justin Turner, who returned from the DL this week, left the game after the sixth inning with tightness in his shoulder and leg. He collided with Andrew Brown in the first inning while both chased a pop up. Turner held on to the ball but took the brunt of the collision with the burly Brown. Omar Quintanilla replaced Turner in the seventh inning.
The Mets face the Nationals on Saturday at 3:05 pm. Dillon Gee faces the struggling Dan Haren. I'm predicting lots of Mets home runs.
Beer of the game: Blue Point Summer Ale from Blue Point Brewing Company in Blue Point, New York
"Pours a beautiful pale crystal clear yellow with full white long-lasting head. Nice scent of citrus and sweetgrass. Taste is clean and crisp, just what I want in a summer brew. Really refreshing. No hoppy aftertaste or bitterness; a great more-than-one choice!" -- BeerAdvocate review
SB Nation Coverage
Win Probability Added
Big winners: Matt Harvey +36.8% (as pitcher), Andrew Brown +24.9%
Big losers: LaTroy Hawkins -37.2%, Juan Lagares -24.3%
Teh aw3s0mest play: John Buck RBI double in the fourth inning, +13.7%
Teh sux0rest play: Ryan Zimmerman game-winning solo home run in the ninth inning, -42.6%
Total pitcher WPA: -0.3%
Total batter WPA: -49.7%
GWRBI!: Ryan Zimmerman game-winning solo home run in the ninth inning