In a game that started with superb pitching, it ended with on a wild pitch. It took 14 innings, but the New York Mets finally topped the Washington Nationals late Thursday night by a score of 3-2.
Nelson Figueroa and John Lannan were the stars early in this game. Lannan went six innings, allowing only one run on three hits. He struck out 11 batters and set down 16 in a row through innings one to six. Lannan allowed a leadoff hit to Jose Reyes, a double to Ryan Church off the glove of Wily Mo Pena to plate Reyes before starting his streak of setting the Mets down before Reyes singled in the sixth to break it up.
For the Mets, Figueroa went seven strong innings, allowing only three hits. The two earned runs charged to came on a two run home run by Nick Johnson in the top of the fourth inning. Johnson crushed a ball to deep right field, which brought home Ryan Zimmerman. Figueroa set down the side in order in the second, third, fourth, fifth, and sixth. Figueroa used 101 pitches to get through the seven innings.
Two amazing starts from these guys. Lannan was on fire for those innings, as was Figueroa. They were matching zeros for a while there. What else can I say here? These two were amazing, but neither of them were even close to factoring into the final. If Figueroa keeps this up, he's going to be huge in New York. A homegrown boy pitching for his favorite childhood team. Someone start writing the screenplay.
The Mets bullpen come on and put together seven straight scoreless innings, adding on to Figueroa's three. The Nationals only picked up six hits in the game, one coming against Duaner Sanchez and two coming against Jorge Sosa. Here's the rundown: Aaron Heilman pitched the eighth inning, striking out one. Billy Wagner came in for the ninth, with the game tied, also striking out one. Then Duaner Sanchez pitched 1 2-3 of an inning, allowing one hit and one walk, and also striking out one. With one on in the 11th, Pedro Feliciano came in to face Johnson, and promptly walked him. This was Feliciano's only batter, as he was removed in a double switch in favor of Joe Smith. Smith logged 1 1-3 of an inning, striking out one. Jorge Sosa came on in the 13th inning, working two innings, allowing two hits, walking one and striking out two.
Wow. Scott Schoeneweis was the only pitcher left in the bullpen when they ended it in the 14th. Amazing stuff from the bullpen to shut down the Nats. Honestly, even though the bats struggled at times, what an amazing outing by Mets pitchers, all around. Great stuff, just downright great stuff.
The Mets offense scored early, when needed, and when they wanted to go home. They had chances in between, but eventually did what they needed to do to win.
They got on the board early, as detailed above, with Reyes singling to start off the game and Church doubling off the glove of Pena in left field. That's when Lannan kicked in and didn't allow another base runner until the sixth inning.
I thought the Mets were going to have a huge day after the first two batters, but Randy St. Claire went out to talk to his pitcher, and obviously said something that resonated.
The Mets were held quiet until the seventh inning. Saul Rivera pitched the seventh for the Nationals, and the Mets threatened to score. Delgado walked, and Angel Pagan singled to right to start the inning. After a Brady Clark sacrifice, Raul Casanova lined out to third and Luis Castillo grounded out to end the inning. In the eighth, the Mets came through to tie it up, as everything happened with two outs and was caused by an error on the part of Ronnie Belliard. Church, with two outs, grounded softly to Belliard, who plays very deep in the hole at second, came charging on, but the ball bounced off the tip of his glove and he could not make the play. After a David Wright walk, Carlos Delgado broke a 0-14 streak, singling to right field and scoring Church, tying up the game at two a piece.
The team is not getting the big hits, but doing just enough, which can only get them so far. Delgado has been looking rough at the plate, and I'm not about to forgive him for it all after one big hit. He needs to go back to his diary (if he's left it at all, I'm not sure, but they haven't shown it at all so I'm just making an educated guess here) and start logging his at bats. It's worked before. And I'll say it again, he needs to give up going yard. He needs to put his head down and go with the pitch. Work the other way for doubles, singles, whatever you can get. If the home run comes, then good, but don't swing for it.
In the ninth, the Mets threatened, as Castillo singled and stole second with two outs as Carlos Beltran pinch hit. Unfortunately for the bullpens, Beltran struck out swinging on a curveball from Jon Rauch. The teams traded chances, going back and forth a few times with each team threatening occasionally. Nothing happened until the 14th.
In the 14th, Damion Easley started off the inning with his second single through the hole on the left side. Reyes, trying to bunt for a hit for the second time of the game, couldn't lay it down and popped it up to Joel Hanrahan. Easley moved to second base on a wild pitch, a foreshadowing of what was going to happen. Hanrahan attempted to pickoff Easley at second, but the ball got away, and Easley moved to third. Church struck out swinging, and the Nats decided to intentionally walk Wright and Delgado to get to the pitchers spot. With only Schoeneweis up in the pen, and not warming up, Willie Randolph made a risky decision and decided to pinch hit his last bench player, Brian Schneider. On the first pitch to Schneider, Hanrahan bounced it a few feet short of the plate, and the ball skipped by Wil Nieves. Easley sprinted home and ended the game, sliding in to home and giving the Mets the sweep of the series.
Crazy stuff. I love extra innings, the drama that comes with it is the best. I was standing on the couch, and I'm surprised I didn't hit the ceiling when the ball got away and Easley took off for home. I love it. Good stuff!
Game ball: Figueroa and Easley.
Beardless watch: 6-2.