Nationals Are a Better Team

Tonight, there were only two Mets who played well in a huge series against the Washington Nationals – Asdrubal Cabrera and Noah Syndergaard. It wasn’t enough. 

Cabrera homered off Nationals starter A.J. Cole in the fourth to narrow the gap to 2-1. Overall, Cabrera was 2-3 with the homer and a walk. Jay Bruce was the only other Met to get a hit off of Cole. 

In reality, the Mets did nothing against a young pitcher who has struggled in his limited major league appearances. In his five major league appearances, he was 0-1 with a 5.32 ERA and a 1.318 WHIP. At 24 years old, he’s still just a prospect who could conceivably break out at any time. However, he’s really seen as a mid to back of the rotation guy. This was just another case of the disappearing Mets offense. 

It is a shame too because it spoiled a very good Syndergaard start. Syndergaard’s final line was seven innings, three hits, two runs, two earned, one walk, and four strikeouts. Seeing that line, it begs the question – how did the Nationals score two runs with only four baserunners and no extra base hits. 

Simple, Syndergaard cannot hold base runners. 

In the first, Trea Turner led off the game with a single. He then proceeded to steal second AND third. No, Travis d’Arnaud wasn’t catching; it was Rene Rivera showing yet again the stolen base issue lies with the starting pitchers. Turner would then score on a Bryce Harper sacrifice fly. Daniel Murphy would also steal a base in the inning, but he would not score. 

In the fourth, Harper hit a one out double, and he stole third. That set up yet another sacrifice fly. This time it was Wilson Ramos

Just like that, the Nationals “manufactured” both of their runs. They got the guys on, got them over, and got them in. It’s something the Mets offense has struggled with all year. 

The Mets would have one chance to tie the game in the seventh. 

Marc Rzepczynski (your guess is as good as mine as to whether that is spelled correctly) relieved Cole, and he made quick work of Curtis Granderson and Kelly Johnson. Rzepczynski would then issue a free pass to Rivera, and he would plunk d’Arnaud. 

At that point, Terry Collins and Dusty Baker would go to their benches. Collins would tab Ty Kelly to pinch run for Rivera. Baker would bring in Koda Glover (definitely no relation to Danny or Donald) to pitch to Jose Reyes making sure Reyes was hitting from his much weaker side. Glover would blow a 98 MPH fastball past Reyes to end the inning. 

But, hey, Reyes did this to a ball earlier in the game:

The game was then out if reach in the ninth before the Mets would bat. Jerry Blevins started the inning to face the left-handed Murphy and Harper. A single and a double later, and Collins turned to Hansel Robles. Robles immediately gave up a two RBI single to Anthony Rendon making it a 4-1 game. 

What we all observed was the difference between the 2015 and 2016 Nationals. The Nationals have a manger that has a reputation in bringing out the best in his guys. They also gave a much better bullpen. During the stretch run last year, they had Jonathan Papelbon. This year it’s Mark Melancon

It’s a huge difference. It’s the difference between losing the division by seven games and having a 10.5 game division lead. Well, that and having Murphy. 

Game Notes: Even with the righty on the mound, James Loney would sit, and Wilmer Flores played first. Michael Conforto did not start, but he made a PH appearance in the ninth. Fernando Salas pitched another scoreless inning. 

Pennant Race: The Pirates lost 1-0 to the Brewers. The Marlins are lost 6-2 to the Indians. The Cardinals lost 3-2 to the Reds.