By: Stache Staff

Post All-Star Swoon Continues in 4-3 Loss to Nats


“…and then I put in Batista and your home run meant NOTHING!”

What a tease.

The Mets made it interesting on Wednesday night — they always seem to do at least that — but the bottom line in a 4-3 loss to the Washington Nationals was that Chris Young can’t go deep into games and the Mets bullpen can’t stop teams from scoring. New York put the two together and the result — despite ninth inning home runs from David Wright and Jason Bay — was a sixth straight loss.

Two things that often burn Young — the third time through the batting order and left handed hitters — did again on Wednesday night when Adam LaRoche launched a two-run blast in the bottom of the sixth. Just moments after the Mets had cut that deficit in half and shown some life, Miguel Batista came in to give up two more runs, the difference makers as Washington defeated New York 4-3 at Nationals Park.
Young and Zimmerman matched zeroes over the first five innings. As has often been the case this year, Young was good the first two times through the Nats order. Over the first five innings he faced the entire Nats lineup twice and limited them to just four hits while he walked one, hit a batter and struck out one. Zimmermann, who now ranks fifth in MLB in ERA at 2.35, was even better. The 26-year-old righthander scattered three hits over the first five innings and struck out four.

While both pitchers were strong early, each team also wasted opportunities to score in their own special way. Bryce Harper cooked Washington’s chances to push one across in the fourth with some boneheaded baserunning. Harper led off the inning with a bloop single and took off for second on a 1-0 pitch to Ryan Zimmerman. Zimmerman made solid contact and put the ball in the air to right-center, where Andres Torres tracked it, but Harper never stopped running. After making the catch, Torres threw to first where Ike Davis stepped on the bag to double off Harper.
The Mets wasted a chance of their own in the sixth when Young started the inning with a double. Ruben Tejada failed to get Young over, instead popping out to right and though Daniel Murphy did move the runner to third, Wright was robbed of a run-scoring hit when Harper ran down a smash in the gap to end the inning.

The Nationals lineup turned over for the second time to start the sixth inning and it was as if a switch had been flipped inside Young. The tools made him effective the first two times through — smoke and mirrors, perhaps — quickly vanished. Harper got the Nats started with one-out when he grounded up the middle and hustled out an infield hit while Ruben Tejada struggled to get the ball out of his glove. Young bounced back and got Ryan Zimmerman swinging with a curveball for the second. But the lefty LaRoche waited on a 1-2 slider and crushed a two-run bomb to left-center.

New York cut the deficit in half with a run in the seventh against Tom Gorzelanny as Andres Torres followed a Lucas Duda double with a seeing-eye single to send home Duda with the Mets’ first run. But the Nats pushed right back in the bottom half against Batista. The righthander got the first two outs easily, but couldn’t manage to get the third before he was chased from the game.

Jesus Flores started the Nats rally with a single to left and Roger Bernadina went there two — with an assist from Batista’s leg — to put two on with one out. Steve Lombardozzi then cleared the bases with a double off the fence in right to make it 4-1 Nationals.

The Mets refused to stop fighting, but couldn’t do enough. Scott Hairston doubled with one out in the eighth but Tejada and Murphy stranded him there. In the ninth, Wright greeted Washington closer Tyler Clippard with an opposite field bomb and after strikeouts from Ike Davis and Duda, Bay yanked one off the foul pole in left to pull New York within a single run again. But Jordany Valdespin, thrice a hero already this season, had no magic in his bat on Wednesday and struck out to end the game.

Game Ball: David Wright did all he could, coming up just a triple short of the cycle. His first inning double set the stage for some early runs that never came to pass, his one out single in the fourth broke a string of nine straight retired by Zimmermann and his homer in the ninth gave a late burst of life. Even the only out he made on Wednesday would have been a RBI gapper if not for Harper’s range in center.

Turning Point: The LaRoche homer was a gut punch, but it was the two-run double by Lombardozzi — another bullpen failure in a week full of them — that ended up being the difference on Wednesday night.

Next Game: The Mets look to avoid the sweep on Thursday afternoon at Nationals park as they send R.A. Dickey (12-1, 2.66 ERA, 0.98 WHIP, 127 K) to the mound for the third game of a three-game set. The Nats counter with one of their All-Star hurlers, Gio Gonzalez (12-4, 2.93 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, 127 K). First pitch is scheduled for 12:05 p.m. and the game can be seen on SNY or heard, as always, on WFAN 660 AM.

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