By Mike Steffanos
Nationals 6 - Mets 2
A couple of things became apparent very quickly watching the game this afternoon -- Orlando Hernandez didn't have the good command of his breaking pitches and the Mets were squandering scoring opportunities.
I started getting a bad feeling about the game in the third when Endy Chavez' leadoff triple went to waste. I could tell Hernandez wasn't sharp, and knew it would take some offense to come out on top of this game. A combination of some good defense and grit from the veteran right-hander kept it 2-1 into the fourth, when El Duque seemed to escape a 2-on, 2-out jam by inducing a soft grounder from Felipe Lopez. David Wright -- seemingly with a play at first base -- elected to tag Chris Snelling for the final out. Brian Schneider scored from third before Wright could tag out Snelling, and the Mets were down by two.
It might as well have been more. They got Shawn Hill into trouble a few times but did little to capitalize. Then in the sixth it all fell apart for El Duque, who allowed homers to Church and Snelling to put the Mets down 6-1. He was ejected for hitting Hill after Snelling's homerun. I don't think it was intentional, but it was time for El Duque to exit at that point, anyway.
Ambiorix Burgos provided one of the few bright spots of the afternoon by pitching 2 scoreless innings in relief of El Duque. He allowed only one walk and struck out a batter.
Schoeneweis and Joe Smith also contributed scoreless frames, but the Mets squandered excellent scoring opportunities in the sixth, eighth and ninth innings. El Duque was far from good, but this was a team loss all the way. The offense has had their moments so far, but these moments have tended to come in big innings. Despite Hernandez' performance this game was eminently winnable. Kudos to Hill for pitching a gutsy game, but give an assist to the hitters. A very disappointing loss.
|TOTAL (3 Games)||18.0||8||8||15||10||9||5||4.00||1.33||1-2|