New York – One thing is certain about the New York Mets. They can’t drive runners, home from scoring position. Now 22 runners stranded in the last two games, 11 more Monday evening at Citi Field in a 3-2 loss to a much improved Washington Nationals team.
The Nationals moved a game ahead of the Mets, now second place in the National League East standings, and for the second straight game a Mets player, this time Jose Reyes was ejected from the game for disputing a called third strike. Does the lack of hitting, and ejection of David Wright the day before and now Reyes have Mets manager Jerry Manuel frustrated?
“It’s a team concern, no doubt about it,” said Manuel about the lack of getting runs home. His team fanned 11 more times at the plate after 14 were struck out by San Francisco Giants pitching the day before. “We will do what we can to address the approach,” added Manuel. “When situations come, basically breathe and enjoy.”
But the Mets have not been able to enjoy much after an early season eight-game wining streak. The starting pitching has not been effective which ahs taken a toll on their bullpen, though this time against the Nationals there was no opportunity for another blown save.
John Maine gave up two runs on seven hits in six innings giving up back-to back home runs in the third inning to Adam Kennedy and Ryan Zimmerman. The over used Pedro Feliciano, leading National League pitchers out of the pen, gave up a deciding run in the eighth.
As for Reyes getting ejected, which also led to Manuel getting heaved from the game the manager said, “It doesn’t bother me when a guy is passionate what he does.” But Wright being ejected Sunday in the ninth inning, which left the Mets short, could have caused Jason Bay to play third base had the game gone to extra innings.
The Reyes ejection may have come out of frustration, another close pitch that caught him looking and stranding two more runners on. That left Manuel to say, “Hopefully, when one guy gets that big hit….” Meaning hitting is contagious as was the case two weeks ago during the wining streak.
It was a run scoring single by Ivan Rodriguez off Felician that became the decisive run. The veteran Rodriquez, in his first year with Washington, had a 4-for-4 night at the plate and has been instrumental in handling the young Nationals pitching staff.
“What happened in Washington the last couple of years is already over,” said Rodriquez. “This is 2010,” he said. “We have a team. We’re focused now. We play the game now.” Miguel Batista was the last of five Nationals pitchers and recorded his first save of the season despite giving up a one-out solo home run to Angel Pagan in the ninth.
But as the series continues against the Nationals Tuesday evening, the lack of getting runs home from Jason Bay, David Wright and Jeff Francoeur have to be a continued concern.
“We have good hitters, have a history of good hitters,’ said Manuel. “Hopefully it is a matter of time.” It better be a matter of time, because the Mets as a team are going to need to score runs if they are going to have any type of respectable season.
e-mail Rich Mancuso: [email protected]