By Mike Steffanos
Game 36: Nationals 10 - Mets 4
I was at this game last night with Greg Prince from Faith and Fear in Flushing. I enjoy talking baseball and life with Greg, which was fortunate, because last night had absolutely nothing else going for it.
The weather was reminiscent of late March/early April. Although we didn't see a drop of rain, it was cloudy, cold and windy. The wind was probably the dominant feature of last night's weather. It was blowing so hard it made things feel much colder than the actual temperature which was in the low 50s. I'm sure it made it a tough night to pitch, particularly for a guy like Nelson Figueroa who depends on breaking pitches.
Having said that, Figueroa was awful. Odalis Perez gave up a lot of hits, but he threw strikes and allowed his defense to make plays. Figueroa gave up a fairly low hit total -- 5 in 5 innings -- but also walked 5 batters and was extremely fortunate not to give up more runs. Moreover, his excruciatingly unprofessional performance on the mound seemed to drain some life out of his own team.
While the conditions contributed to Figgy's woes, this was just the continuation of a trend we've seen in his recent starts. His first two starts featured an aggressive Figueroa with only 4 walks in 13 IP. Since then he has started 4 games and pitched a 3.1 inning relief performance against the Pirates. The numbers speak for themselves:
|Nelson Figueroa (Last 5 Games)|
19 Walks in 23.1 IP is unacceptable for a veteran like Figueroa. I've just heard that the Mets designated him for assignment, and I'm not surprised. I wish the fairy tale could have gone on a little longer, but he has no one to blame but himself. It was ridiculous that he was criticizing the Nationals players for celebrating since he was practically throwing a party for them with his "generosity".
Jorge Sosa, also designated for assignment, also had a rough night. I thought Sosa would be a valuable member of the bullpen in the long relief role, since he has decent stuff. Instead he has pitched to an ERA over 7. He had been better in his last 5 outings before last night, allowing 0 runs on a couple of hits. I wish the Mets could have held on to Sosa and tried to straighten him out, but not demoting Joe Smith was the correct move.
As for the Mets, Greg and I both had a feeling going into the game that things might be turning around a little. Maybe it was just a pitcher who couldn't throw strikes, but the end result was a Mets team that seemed lifeless by the end of the night and the proverbial "one step forward, one step back" that has characterized this club for a year now.