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Final Score From Citi Field: Mets 4, Nats 3

Just a few exit notes from Citi Field, where the Nats (now 3-12) lost to the Mets.

* New York starter Johan Santana went from dominant to good tonight, but never did he look all that vulnerable -- at least until the sixth inning. Six of his 10 strikeouts came in the first two innings. The Nats, to their credit, poked away at him, finally puncturing his scoreless innings streak at 17 with Nick Johnson's homer in the sixth (opposite field, down the line in left). But what happened after the Johnson home run was ultimately the biggest wasted opportunity of the night. Santana, still with no outs, walked Ryan Zimmerman and allowed an Adam Dunn single. The Nats, trailing 2-1, had the tying run just 180 feet away. But in succession, Elijah Dukes struck out, Austin Kearns struck out, and Jesus Flores popped up.

* Looking for other things to lament in a close game? How about the two similar outfield misplays that resulted in two of New York's runs. In the third, Elijah Dukes charged what should have been a single, attempting a shoestring catch. Instead, the Carlos Beltran liner turned into an RBI triple when it skipped by Dukes. In the sixth, Austin Kearns (in right) made a similar mistake, diving after a Fernando Tatis would-be single, letting it bolt by him, and serving up a triple. Tatis eventually scored. So, that explains two of New York's runs. Oh, and another run was unearned -- the result of an Olsen fielding error on a Santana bunt. You can't be that sloppy and beat New York's ace.

"It's just poor defensive play right now," Manny Acta said.

* The Nats bullpen didn't do its job, either. Jason Bergmann and Kip Wells combined for two innings, five walks, and a run. (Wells forced it in in the eighth with a bases-loaded walk.) Together, Bergmann and Wells threw 58 pitches. Twenty-five were strikes.

By Chico Harlan  |  April 24, 2009; 11:39 PM ET
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Next: Today's Lineup From Citi Field


Maybe it's because of the terrible baseball I was watching for the first two weeks, but I didn't come away with near as negative an impression of the game. This fell in the category of regular loss, with plenty of good things to build on, not the appalling catastrophes we've been treated to in the past.

Posted by: Section506 | April 24, 2009 11:52 PM | Report abuse

"It's just poor defensive play right now," Manny Acta said.

Yes, and poor defensive judgment. Sometimes the better part of valor is standing up and playing a single into a single instead of giving up a triple.

Dukes is young, but Kearns? Those 2 plays ended up the difference in the game.

And for the geniuses that wanted Bergmann as a closer, he can't even pitch in 7th inning middle relief with his team trailing.

Great game from Dunn as he is now batting .300!!!!

Posted by: GoingGoingGone | April 24, 2009 11:53 PM | Report abuse

I never got Bergie. The guy went 2-and-11 last year, after all. He always just seems to lose. Three guys who have just developed a loser's mentality:
Acta, Kearns, Bergie. Acta goes by May 1, or May 15 at the latest. Manny must go, or this team will go 40-and-122.

Posted by: jdschulz50 | April 24, 2009 11:59 PM | Report abuse

I think we have to be fair to the team.

First, let's forget that 1-10 start, it never happened.

Since then, the Nationals are 2-2; if they go .500 the rest of the way, they'll be 77-85 and that's great (and yes, I really think they can do it ... or at least get close).

All three miscues, Elijah Dukes' feeble dive, Kearns' frantic attempt and Olsen's "I'd better hurry" stab at that bunt all happened because the Mets had Johan Santana on the mound and all eight players knew that even one run by the Mets would probably spell doom for the Nationals.

They made ill-advised attempts but for the right reasons. If Mike Pelfrey was pitching, Olsen slows down and Dukes and Kearns plays it safe.

It was a good game, the Nationals got two runs in the 9th off of a superb closer, and all is well.

Posted by: rushfari | April 25, 2009 12:00 AM | Report abuse

Oops, I forgot to mention one snarky comment.

In the 9th, with no one out and the score 4-3, Manny let Alberto Gonzalez hit (true, he had 2 hits but he's looked lost the last two weeks), then pinch hit Alex Cintron instead of Josh Willingham (his bruised leg isn't that bad) and then he let Anderson Hernandez bat to end the game.

That seemed to be poorly played.

Posted by: rushfari | April 25, 2009 12:04 AM | Report abuse

Can you say 0-and-6 roadtrip?

Posted by: jdschulz50 | April 25, 2009 12:22 AM | Report abuse

rushfari, I'm pretty sure they only let you pinch hit once per game. So Willingham wasn't available, having hit for Olsen in the 7th.

Posted by: joebleux | April 25, 2009 12:23 AM | Report abuse

Team should have taken fielding practice, they had never ever played on that field before and the manager doesn't make them take fielding practice??? Inexcusable.

Posted by: skippy1999 | April 25, 2009 12:24 AM | Report abuse

"Can you say 0-and-6 roadtrip?"

Wanna bet?

Posted by: joebleux | April 25, 2009 12:24 AM | Report abuse

"stop with the negative waves, moriarty!" -- oddball in 'kelly's heroes'

Posted by: natty-bumppo | April 25, 2009 12:28 AM | Report abuse

joebleux: "rushfari, I'm pretty sure they only let you pinch hit once per game. So Willingham wasn't available, having hit for Olsen in the 7th."

Nope. A player brought in to pinch hit can stay in the game for as long as the manager wishes, but they have to be playing in some position on the field.

Willingham was unavailable because he was out of the game, having been replaced by Bergmann and then Wells. Cintron was brought in as a pinch hitter for Wells.

Posted by: absoluteflatness | April 25, 2009 12:46 AM | Report abuse

Although I just realized your post could have an alternate, and more likely meaning.

Yeah, you can never return to the game once you've left it, so obviously you can't come in as a pinch hitter twice.

At any rate, Willingham definitely couldn't have batted in the 9th.

Posted by: absoluteflatness | April 25, 2009 12:49 AM | Report abuse

Skippy1999s absolutely correct. Ray Knight and Dibble called out the Nats for not taking infield practice before the game. With all of the team's errors already, this is inexcusable.

As for the Pedro Martinez scenario raised in earlier posts, that man is a headhunter and a scumbag who likes to beat up 70-year olds. In 2006 alone, he hit 5 Nats in one single game at Shea Stadium. When a Nats reliever retaliated and got ejected, Frank Robinson got in the umps face and flashed his hands: 5 to 1! I'll never forget the emotion and anger on Frank's face. Of course, Frank was tossed.

Pedro is a pig and despite his talent, he is a piece of garbage that should remain on the fringes of baseball betting on cock fights. O

Posted by: msolem | April 25, 2009 1:15 AM | Report abuse

On the head-scratching, flummoxing Cintron pinch-hitting front, Nats320 has a great point as to who could've (and should've) been at the plate besides him:

Posted by: HotNats | April 25, 2009 1:18 AM | Report abuse

Nationals pitchers have had poor control all year long. The bullpen woes are nothing new. It's just a shame to see Jesus Flores hit a shot off of one of the best closers ever but because of Kip Wells control problems the Nats still came up short.


Posted by: TheNatsBlog | April 25, 2009 1:29 AM | Report abuse

"Cintron and Tonic" needs to go!

Posted by: msolem | April 25, 2009 1:52 AM | Report abuse

It's pretty likely that Manny just brought in Cintron because he was the guy on the bench who could bat lefty against K-Rod as a righty.

Manny does love his situational subs, but this isn't such a bad call on its face. Cintron was a .301 hitter against righties in '08. It's not as if there were any "sure thing" batters sitting on the bench that would've won the game.

Leaving a couple fewer men on base or giving up a few less consecutive walks (this is the second game in a row where we've walked one in, I believe) on the other hand, might have.

Posted by: absoluteflatness | April 25, 2009 1:59 AM | Report abuse

Acta was the one who intentionally loaded the bases with a walk AND left the pitcher right handed pitcher in to face the lefty...ACTA SUCKS

Posted by: JayBeee | April 25, 2009 6:45 AM | Report abuse

>Acta was the one who intentionally loaded the bases with a walk AND left the pitcher right handed pitcher in to face the lefty...ACTA SUCKS

Don't you fret - there's a quick turnaround today. How much you wanna bet they skip batting practice this morning too?
Yeah I'm glad the broadcasting crew took a piece out of his hide about not having infield practice yesterday with the new stadium and the day off. They also brought up the point that the Nats rarely had infield practice. Maybe that was Zimmerman's problem with his throwing accuracy to first - he just hasn't had enough practice at it. They have trouble making routine plays. It goes on and on. I figure we're just inside of two weeks before the season is lost. Acta's kind of like the handicapped kid whose dad runs a business where everybody has to work around him because they know he's not going anywhere. Except that the kid isn't allowed to screw anything up. Unlike Acta. I'd seriously be thinking about buying out Kasten and sending him down the road. All of this has happened on his watch. Going on four years he's been around and they do nothing but get worse. It's obvious that he doesn't know jack about sports - only sports marketing. They can get another friggin lawyer to do that. A lot of marketing people looking for work these days.

Posted by: Brue | April 25, 2009 7:49 AM | Report abuse

I hate walks as much as the next fellow, but it sure seemed that Santana was getting all of his close pitches called for strikes while Bergmann and Wells were getting nothing from the umpire. The Nats' batters have been getting a lot of balls called for strike three in the last week which obviously tilts the play dramatically in favor of the other team.

I would like to see Pitchtrack used more often by MASN, especially on called strike threes. Dibble has mentioned several times that all ballparks now have cameras installed so that the umpire's commissioner can observe the ball/strike zone of each umpire and help him adjust his stance to be more accurate. Is the public ever going to see the results of this program, either in terms of their internal ratings or in results on the field?

Posted by: driley | April 25, 2009 8:05 AM | Report abuse

We're not going 0-6 on this road trip.
Last night was the one game of the road trip that everyone knew we'd probably lose, b/c Santana was pitching.

The rest of the way, I like our chances in each game. We could easily go 4-2 or 3-3. 4-2 would be great!

Posted by: usmc53 | April 25, 2009 8:25 AM | Report abuse

catching up a little on the reading since last night.

BGinVA: not sure overhauling the bullpen is a good idea just yet. they look like they got the yips.

dagregmag: dude. excellent rant! "tinkers damn"? LOL

I agree with rushfari and usmc53. i didn't think it was so bad last night against Santana. Nick's homer was just awesome. "psh. i got your strike right here." (said in brooklyn accent).

And I agree with JayB (again). I'm liking Olsen more and more. He competed last night AND he's a good interview. Loved his quote about silencing the "New York heads" in the last game last year.

Posted by: NatsNut | April 25, 2009 9:15 AM | Report abuse

also, let's make absolutely sure they didn't take infield yesterday before we go to town on that one. judging from a couple posts, there's a chance that the announcers just missed it.

(that said, if it's true, that's pretty bad).

Posted by: NatsNut | April 25, 2009 9:19 AM | Report abuse

Dibble even said on the postgame he's not sure if the team took infield.
He didn't get to the ballpark til 4 p.m. when the Mets were taking BP.

Posted by: patchss | April 25, 2009 9:30 AM | Report abuse

From June of 2006 to June of 2009 would be three years by my reckoning. Just saying.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | April 25, 2009 10:23 AM | Report abuse

"I hate walks as much as the next fellow, but it sure seemed that Santana was getting all of his close pitches called for strikes while Bergmann and Wells were getting nothing from the umpire."

Kip Wells in particular had to deal with the incredible shrinking strike zone. On that walk that ended up being the difference in the game, the 0-0 ball, the 1-0 ball, and the 3-0 strike were the exact same pitch in the exact same place. They were all strikes for Santana.

Even Dibble commented "why does the strike zone suddenly shrink when it's the bottom of the seventh and the bases are loaded?"

As for Bergy, it's the same problem as ever... his head.

Posted by: Section506 | April 25, 2009 10:37 AM | Report abuse

A note to usmc53: I admire your positive attitude concerning this road trip,read my post concerning this team on the previous blog.Manny Acta has no business managing this team i don't know what more anyone needs to see the team lacks focus in the field and at the plate,Randy St.Claire is also beginning to lose my support,the bullpen is a mess they are easily responsible for six loses so far, the nationals have some potential maybe not division winning potential but potential to be more than competitive. Rob Dibble's revelation that the team did not take infield before yesterdays game was disturbing,HELLO!!! we lead the league in errors and we were leaders in that dubious distinction last season,wake up Manny,we poked fun at F.Robby for sleeping in the dugout during his tenure,well Manny seems to be in a catatonic state given some of his in game decisions.The only way i see this team moving forward is with a new manager the sooner the better and while the Lerners are at it show Stan the Plan the door.

Posted by: dargregmag | April 25, 2009 10:43 AM | Report abuse

I don't think signing Pedro would be so great, but calling him or anybody a "scumbag'' is pretty lame. Sounds like a closet Yankee fan. If you recall, Zimmer took total responsibility for what happened, so it's just not accurate to say Pedro "likes to beat up 70-year-olds.''

Posted by: nats24 | April 25, 2009 11:12 AM | Report abuse

Even though Pelfrey is pitching for the Mets today I just realized who the Nats starter was. Oh brother if Danny can't find the strike zone we are in for a long afternoon. To bad today wasn't MLB draft day. Of course Strausberg will hold out long enough to not make much of a difference this year anyway. Oh please gods of baseball shine down on this team today and help them win!

Posted by: TippyCanoe | April 25, 2009 11:38 AM | Report abuse

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