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Mets 7, Nats 2: Game turns in New York’s favor late

Jul 21, 2015, 9:59 PM EST

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GAME IN A NUTSHELL: Jacob deGrom may be the reigning NL Rookie of the Year and may have been coming off a lights-out performance in the All-Star Game last week, but for six innings Tuesday night, Joe Ross was the more-impressive young right-hander on the mound at Nationals Park. Then came the top of the seventh, when this game abruptly turned in the Mets’ favor and continued down that path until it was too late for the Nats to recover.

Eric Campbell’s 2-run single to right off Aaron Barrett (who was brought in to replace Ross) turned a 1-run Nationals lead into a 1-run Nationals deficit. That clutch hit came shortly after first baseman Clint Robinson couldn’t handle a grounder to his left, an error that set in motion the Mets’ go-ahead rally. Poor defense became a common theme late, with Bryce Harper overthrowing the plate by 20 feet on the decisive hit and Matt den Dekker’s throw to second base skipping past Danny Espinosa to help set in motion the Mets’ 4-run rally in the top of the ninth that put the game out of reach.

Ross had been fantastic, allowing one run over his first six innings and out-pitching deGrom, who was no slouch himself in allowing just two runs (on Wilson Ramos’ homer) during his six innings of work. But with his teammates unable to mount anything more at the plate, Ross was left to take a hard-luck loss.

The Nationals, meanwhile, looked mighty sloppy in the field one night after playing their best defensive game of the season. And so they have seen their lead in the NL East drop back to 2 games entering Wednesday afternoon’s series finale.

HITTING HIGHLIGHT: For a brief while, it looked like Ramos would be the offensive star of the night. The Nats catcher had only 10 hits over his previous 64 at-bats, only two of them for extra bases. But he managed to stay back on deGrom’s 98-mph fastball over the outside corner and drilled it to right field, just over the wall for a 2-run homer. That’s the kind of swing Ramos consistently shows when he’s in a good groove at the plate, and it’s the kind of swing he hasn’t shown much of late. If that’s a sign of things to come, the Nationals will be all the better for it.

PITCHING HIGHLIGHT: Making his first big-league start in a month, Ross picked up right where he left off. The 22-year-old right-hander was aggressive, going right at New York’s hitters, using his fastball and slider effectively and not looking at all unprepared for the moment. His only real hiccup came in the top of the fourth, when he needed 29 pitches to get out of a jam with only one run scoring. Yes, two more runs scored in the top of the seventh, but that was a direct result of Robinson’s fielding error and then the 2-run single Barrett allowed to Campbell. In the end, Ross allowed two earned runs and four hits in 6 1/3 innings, walking none and striking out four … yet took the loss. Tough outcome for the rookie on this night.

KEY STAT: With an 0-for-3 performance Tuesday, Bryce Harper has gone hitless in in back-to-back games for the first time since May 4-5 vs. the Marlins.

UP NEXT: The series wraps up at 12:35 p.m. Wednesday with another great pitching matchup. It’s Jordan Zimmermann (8-5, 3.27) for the Nats and Noah Syndergaard (4-5, 3.05) for the Mets.

  1. Soul Possession, My Sofa - Jul 21, 2015 at 10:03 PM

    Meh. Go get ’em tomorrow, they leave 3 back, and get the Dodgers next. Sleep soundly tonight.

  2. manassasnatsfan - Jul 21, 2015 at 10:03 PM

    Joe Ross’s pitching could not overcome Aaron Barrett’¢ and Tanner Roark’s pathetic pitching.

    CRob poor fielding on a ground ball that could have been a double play was turning point if the game.

    Where last night the fielding won the game today CRob’s terrible fielding was catalyst to losing the game.

  3. stanogstel - Jul 21, 2015 at 10:04 PM

    Blech. I typed other words but deleted them upon reflection. I wish the bullpen would step-up a bit more. But we all identified that as an area for improvement during the all-star break.

  4. Drew - Jul 21, 2015 at 10:08 PM

    Joe Ross looked terrific once again.

    His old roomie, Trea Turner, went 3 for 3 tonight at Syracuse, with 2 doubles and 2 steals. He’s hitting .308.

    Dandy trade.

    (Werth went 2 for 4 and stole a base. He’s getting close.)

    • kgwcoach - Jul 21, 2015 at 10:11 PM

      AlexandriaNATSFan

      Cotton candy 3.75

  5. David Proctor - Jul 21, 2015 at 10:16 PM

    Barrett gave up a soft liner on a good pitch. It probably should’ve been bounced, but i stillt wasn’t in a terrible location.

    The play of the game was Robinson’s error. I don’t know how he doesn’t come up with that. And FP made a correct point on a Lagares (I think) single that a lot of balls are getting between the 1B and 1B bag. Robinson is an absolute statue. Dunn-esque. I expected him to be bad in the OF, but I figured he’d be serviceable at 1B. Not quite. He’s proven he can hit respectably though. Probably a better fit for the AL where he can DH.

    Roark with yet another clunker and it’s getting hard to remember the good outings. No bueno. Ross was good though.

    • Karl Kolchak - Jul 21, 2015 at 10:22 PM

      There was a reason why Robinson had never even made it past the first round of cuts in ST prior to this year despite hitting 141 dingers in eight minor league seasons. No doubt he’s made himself into a valuable left-handed bench bat, but playing every day has exposed his considerable fielding weaknesses.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 21, 2015 at 10:49 PM

        I’m shocked at how high Fangraphs rates him on UZR on 1st base. It’s a gift. His feet are stuck in concrete on lateral movement and he’s had a hard time scooping bounced throws from other infielders and plays like the bouncer to him he couldn’t get. Like Adam Dunn used to say, “you better hit well enough to make up for your defense”.

        CRob has a good OBP and he’s getting singles but where is the consistent power? Yesterday’s 2 run double was because Lagares was playing him shallow and you take it but he only has 4 HRs. Denard Span has 5 HRs this year!

  6. lesatcsc - Jul 21, 2015 at 10:25 PM

    So, the BP and in particular Roark was awful again, they got no hitting and Ross was good. How does this affect Rizzo as the trade deadline approaches? Beyond a doubt they need a bat. It’s lovely to dream that Werth and RZimm will return their old selves, but there is little to make one optimistic that will be the case. Getting Rendon and Span back would be bigger, but what’s to say either will be able to stay in the lineup, and yet this is still a team with a very good shot to get the playoffs and once there, any rotation that features Scherzer, JZimm, and Gio may be enough to get you to the promised land.

    So what do you do if you’re Rizzo? You definitely need a big time everyday bat. 1B, LF or even 3B all make them better. You definitely need at least two arms for the BP because most of what’s out there right now is not getting it done. You have two rental pitchers and a rental SS at the big league level you can move, a rookie that has been great that you have no room for and any number of prospects that could go too? Do you move Fister at the deadline and go with Ross as the 5th starter? Do you move Desi and let Espy or Esco play SS if you can get a middle of the order bat? The Nats don’t need an over the hill substitute like Zobrist, they need a serious middle of the order bat to protect Bryce. Maybe Roark becomes the 5th starter again, because he sure isn’t a reliever and you move one of the other two SPs.

    Very tough decisions for Mike, but it looks like their season depends on how astutely he can fix the holes on this otherwise promising team. The next week or so maybe very interesting.

    • dcwx61 - Jul 22, 2015 at 7:10 AM

      i hear 4 bats are on the way back.
      They need a BP

  7. Greg - Jul 21, 2015 at 10:32 PM

    I don’t know who to get or how to get them but the Nats have 2 maybe 3 people in the bullpen that are somewhat reliable. It needs a complete overhaul in order to compete in October. The only way to do that now is mortgage the future which I would NOT do. The future is important for this team as well. I just hope in the last half of the season a couple more guys establish themselves or a pleasant surprise falls to the team at the waver deadline like Thornton last year. Bats will return with the players coming off the DL.

  8. npb99 - Jul 21, 2015 at 10:34 PM

    I’m confident that hitting will improve when several regulars return, and I can’t complain about the starting pitching. But I have no idea what to expect over the next two months from this bullpen. If it doesn’t stabilize, a deep playoff run will be challenging, to say the least.

    Feel bad for Roark, though. The team throws him into any and every situation. Rain delay: put in Tanner. Stadium lights delay: Tanner. Continue the next day: Tanner. Late inning relief: Tanner. Starter misses a turn: Tanner. If the Nats go all the way this year, and there’s a championship parade down Pennsylvania Avenue, and the lead car gets a flat tire, you know who’ll they’ll ask to fix it…

  9. Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 21, 2015 at 10:42 PM

    @ZuckermanCSN: Roark pretty down on himself after 4-run 9th: “I feel like I’m underperforming, and I need to pick it up.”

    Yes Tanner. You threw BP tonight. What has happened to you?

  10. natsnatsnatswoo - Jul 21, 2015 at 10:48 PM

    I keep going back to something that was said about Buck Showalter in the recent MLB Network profile of him. He rarely if ever has a pitcher warm up without bringing him into the game. Now Buck is a manager who consistently gets more out of his team than many people think is there, that’s why he’s generally considered one of the best managers in MLB today.

    Contrast this with the way Matt Williams handles his bullpen. Last night, while Gio was struggling through the fifth inning, saved only by Taylor’s great catch, Williams had no one up in the bullpen. Then while Gio pitched the sixth, he had someone warming up (never identified on the bullpen ribbon board, but perhaps Solis). But when Gio was ultimately removed after Difo pinch hit for him, it was Thornton who was brought in, not the mystery pitcher who warmed up earlier. Then as Thornton was pitching the seventh, Roark was warming up. But when the eighth inning rolled around, it was Janssen who was brought in. Roark never pitched in yesterday’s game, despite warming up for an entire inning.

    Now tonight, Roark comes in to pitch the ninth and craps the bed. In the postgame interview, he blames it on failure to execute his pitches. Left unsaid though was whether not knowing if he’d actually be called upon to execute while he was warming up tonight had anything to do with that. I’m no pitcher, obviously, but I for one can see how it might have.

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 21, 2015 at 10:51 PM

      Starting by bragging about Buck Showalter leads me to pass on the rest of your post. The Orioles fan club is on MASN Orioles.

      • natsnatsnatswoo - Jul 21, 2015 at 11:04 PM

        I’m not bragging about Buck Showalter, MLB Network is. They are neutral. You should be neutral too. As much as you hate them, the Orioles have been in the playoffs two of the past three years, and advanced further than the Nats did last year. Showalter was voted manager of the year. They are doing something right, whether you believe it or not. It would make sense to learn from that, would it not?

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 21, 2015 at 11:36 PM

        Well lets see tonight in a 2-2 game Buck left Chen in to begin the 7th inning and he gave up 2 hits and was pulled and the Yankees scored and won the game 3-2.

        I think Buck Showalter is a fool. His track record of getting fired and then replaced by managers that go to the World Series is well documented.

  11. lesatcsc - Jul 21, 2015 at 10:57 PM

    I’m having a hard time being optimistic about some of the players returning. Both Werth and RZimm were awful before they left. If they come back and play at the same level, the Nats would be better off if they stayed on the DL. Span and Rendon have played well when they’ve been able to get in the lineup, but boy keeping them there seems to be a challenge. Full props to CRob and MAT who have filled in valiantly, but they aren’t regulars on a championship team at this point in their careers. Maybe the medical prognosis on our four missing regulars is more promising than the past few months would indicate, but unless Rizzo is really confident that Werth, RZimm, Rendon and Span are all going to return and produce somewhere near their career averages, I think he has to be looking to make a significant move, It’s that or just hope that they can win a lot of games 1-0 by having starters go 8 and Storen clean up.

    The bullpen is a mess. I just don’t think it can be fixed in season. Some of the guys they’ve already got just have to be better. One more arm would help, but there are too many problems out there to fix with just one arm. I guess if you can get an 8th inning guy, some combo of Jansen and Thornton can get you through the 7th. The other guys can pitch when the game is out of reach to save the serious BP guys for the close games.

    • natsnatsnatswoo - Jul 21, 2015 at 11:08 PM

      Ask yourself this. Would Ryan Zimmerman, back in the lineup with orthotics in his shoe, have made the play tonight that Clint Robinson didn’t? The answer would have to be yes. He was making those plays before he went on the DL. Case closed.

      • dcwx61 - Jul 22, 2015 at 7:11 AM

        +1

    • Dave - Jul 22, 2015 at 11:30 AM

      RZim had plantar fasciitis before he left. Werth really didn’t have much spring training due to shoulder surgery. So those two guys really haven’t been here this year, basically. They will be showing up for the first time, more or less, in a week or two.

      I’m not worried.

  12. rlndtln - Jul 21, 2015 at 11:20 PM

    Easy on Robinson.He is a bench player who is the best we have at this time.The real problem is Span and Rendon getting on base ahead of Bryce and Esco.Zim and Werth behind them will be gravy.You can not expect to win with nothing going wrong scoring 2 runs.Danny and Mat are over matched against tough pitching.There best chance is to bunt.We won last year With Span and Rendon getting on base.Imagine how many more rbis both Bryce and Esco would have.Of course the BP is a big problem.Only Storen has been reliable.Last year Mw would have pulled Ross after 6 and the game would have been over.Stammen,Storen,Clip,and even Soriano not to mention a great 2nd half by Blevins who we gave away.

    • scmargenau - Jul 21, 2015 at 11:54 PM

      More tymo plz

  13. manassasnatsfan - Jul 21, 2015 at 11:48 PM

    Looking at possible bullpen help.

    How Brad Ziegler 1.08 ERA in 41 games. Team has an option for 2016.

  14. manassasnatsfan - Jul 21, 2015 at 11:58 PM

    Marlon Byrd is available I am sure.

  15. manassasnatsfan - Jul 22, 2015 at 12:02 AM

    Carpenter I hope will be back in soon. He looked good before his shoulder barked on him.

    The pieces are out there they just need to be collected.

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