If we were casting a Hollywood movie with the Mets players, the role of "The Stopper" would undoubtedly go to Johan Santana. The Mets bats woke up and Santana's "B-game" was good enough, as the New York Mets broke their three game skid, beating the Washington Nationals by a score of 7-2.
Santana allowed a bit too many hits, seven to be exact, through his seven innings of work. He got off to a rough start, not getting his first 1-2-3 inning until the fifth. Santana allowed a single in the first, two in the second, another in the third, and two more in the fourth before opposing pitcher Tim Redding doubled to center field, driving in the only two runs of the game for Washington. After Redding's hit, Santana set down ten Nationals in order to finish out his day.
It didn't even seem like Santana had his best stuff, giving up seven hits, but it's the Nationals, and he's one of the best pitchers in the game. This is exactly why Santana will dominate the NL. The strike zone was pretty inconsistent, as a few of us noted in our live game thread. Still, a dominant performance over the hapless Nats. Stellar play in the second inning from Santana too. Coming off the bag and fielding a tapper in front of the mound. He snagged it, planted, and threw a one hopper to Carlos Delgado, who dug it out. Good stuff.
Duaner Sanchez entered the game in the eighth inning with a three run lead. Sanchez set down the team in order, striking Ryan Zimmerman in the process. Billy Wagner entered in the ninth with a five run lead, allowed a leadoff walk to Austin Kearns, and then got Lastings Milledge and Wil Nieves to strike out to end the game.
Sanchez should not be moved from the eighth inning role. He's there, he's good, don't touch him. Wagner has thrown eight innings of no-hit baseball this season. If he gets one more season, can that count for the Mets?
The Mets pounded out 11 hits against the Nationals, only seven of which actually made it out of the infield.
In the second, Carlos Beltran doubled to right to start the inning. After a Ryan Church ground out to the right side, moving Beltran to third, Delgado grounded out to short, which brought Beltran home for the first run of the game.
That's right. Delgado got an RBI. Don't pass out.
The Mets were held off the board until the fifth, where an infield hit helped the Mets score one. With one out, Brian Schneider and Santana worked out back to back walks. After a fielders choice off the bat of Jose Reyes, eliminating Santana on the basepath, Luis Castillo singled to short, driving in Schneider.
A 2-out RBI...off the bat of Castillo...Maybe this game was a dream?
The sixth innings was the inning of cue shots and small ball. Let's start at the top: Beltran singled to left to start the inning. Church then hit one off the end of the bat, which spun away from a charing Zimmerman. His throw to Nick Johnson at first went wild, allowing Beltran, who came to a complete stop at second base, to go 0-60, motoring around to score. Church moved to third on the play. After a Delgado foul ball pop out (no surprise), Angel Pagan hit another cue shot, this time to Ray King. King fielded but made a terrible throw to first, allowing Church to score. Pagan then stole second and third on consecutive pitches, allowed Schneider to bring him home with a ground out. Three runs on three hits, none of which left the infield.
I'm sure the Mets will take it anyway they can get it, and so will I. It wasn't a "big hit" but they were effective, and that's all that matters. They took advantage of miscues and manufactured a few runs, and that's what I like to see out of this team. To Pagan: Speed kills (see: Reyes).
The Mets added some insurance runs in the top of the ninth inning, when Church crushed a ball deep to right field. Before the hit, Castillo singled and Wright walked, and they both came around to score on Church's deep single.
Well, well. The Mets weren't happy with just five runs, and that is a very good sign. I like the fight they showed tonight. Where the heck was that in Chicago? Nevermind that. Look forward. Keep this up.
Numbers: Santana @ the plate: 2-2, 1 BB, 2 doubles...Only starters without hits: Reyes and Wright...Stolen bases: Reyes, Pagan (2), Castillo...Team LOB: 8...Santana pitch count: 97...Schneider: 1-3, 1 BB, 1 run, 1 RBI...Church: 2-5, 2 RBI...Milledge: 0-4, 2 K...
Game Ball: Santana