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Mets 5, Nats 3: Another blown lead caps series sweep

Sep 9, 2015, 9:46 PM EDT

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GAME IN A NUTSHELL: It couldn’t happen again. Could it? Well, yes, it could. And the latest installment of A Nightmare on South Capitol Street wasn’t any easier for the Nationals or their fans to watch.

Leading by a run entering the eighth inning behind a dominant performance from Stephen Strasburg (13 strikeouts) and offensive heroics from Bryce Harper (2 homers and a double), Nationals manager Matt Williams turned to his beleaguered bullpen, hoping beyond hope that group could record the five remaining outs necessary to salvage one win in this make-or-break series.

Instead, Drew Storen imploded yet again. Tuesday’s meltdown was a slow drip: six walks issued by Storen and his fellow relievers. This one was a swift hammer to the side of the head: a 2-run homer by Yoenis Cespedes that left the crowd of 27,530 in sheer, utter disbelief.

As boos cascaded down on Storen, Williams and others, the Nationals tried in vain to mount a last-ditch rally, unable to pull it off. And so their season has perhaps come down to this defining stat: Their last five losses have all come in games they led entering the sixth inning or later. Had they closed those games out, they would actually lead the NL East right now by 1 game. Instead, they trail by 7.

HITTING HIGHLIGHT: It had been a brutal series for Harper, and really a brutal season against the Mets. (He entered this game owning a .214 batting average and only one homer against New York so far in 2015.) But that changed in a hurry when Harper managed to turn on a 97-mph, up-and-in fastball from Jacob deGrom in the bottom of the first, launching his 35th homer of the year. Harper then hammered another 97-mph deGrom fastball in the fourth, sending a leadoff double to the gap in right-center and setting the stage to score the Nationals’ second run of the night. And for good measure, he launched a 3-1 pitch from Tyler Clippard down the right-field line for another homer in the eighth. Harper wound up with 10 total bases in the game. Alas, all four of his at-bats came with the bases empty.

PITCHING LOWLIGHT: This should have been a night to celebrate Strasburg, who was absolutely brilliant after missing a start with a recurrence of the neck issue that plagued him earlier this season. The right-hander struck out 13 over 7 1/3 innings, coming up one shy of the career mark he set five years ago in his major-league debut. Alas, that was a mere footnote at the end of the night, because of what happened after Strasburg departed (admittedly after he surrendered the game-tying homer to Kelly Johnson and then a sharp single to Curtis Granderson). Williams emerged from the dugout and signaled for Storen, who entered to a chorus of boos. And two pitches later, those boos were full-throated after Storen hung a 1-0 curveball to Cespedes and watched the ball soar into the left-field bullpen.

KEY STAT: Nationals pitchers gave up home runs on only 2.2 percent of all at-bats during the season’s first half. They’ve given up homers on 3.3 percent of at-bats since the All-Star break.

UP NEXT: The Nationals will try to enjoy a day off before opening up a weekend series in Miami. Gio Gonzalez (10-7, 3.96) faces Jarred Cosart (1-4, 5.04) in Friday’s 7:10 p.m. EDT game at Marlins Park.

  1. raleighnat - Sep 9, 2015 at 9:51 PM

    Nicely done once again.

  2. stoatva - Sep 9, 2015 at 9:52 PM

    I can only think of one thing that would make tomorrow’s day off enjoyable.

    • raleighnat - Sep 9, 2015 at 9:53 PM

      Not much point now.

      • drunksapper - Sep 9, 2015 at 10:35 PM

        I don’t care. I want him gone yesterday. That troglodyte pretending to be a MLB manager needs to be run out of town.

        Have him take that whimpering, choke artist relief pitcher with him too. I’m officially done with that whiney, feeble soft body.

  3. kirbs3256 - Sep 9, 2015 at 9:54 PM

    Well, I hear football officially starts tomorrow……..

    • stoatva - Sep 9, 2015 at 10:54 PM

      As if this baseball season weren’t punishment enough.

  4. veejh - Sep 9, 2015 at 9:57 PM

    That baseball season was horrible.

    • veejh - Sep 9, 2015 at 9:58 PM

      I’ll take the 100 loss season over that any day. At least we knew where we stood and that we were building towards something. This was nothing but the collapse of everything going built. Sad

      • veejh - Sep 9, 2015 at 9:59 PM

        *being

      • stoatva - Sep 9, 2015 at 10:11 PM

        NO! No more hundred loss seasons, ever!

      • adcwonk - Sep 9, 2015 at 10:51 PM

        I’ll take the 100 loss season over that any day.

        Not me!

        Meaningful games in September. Games that matter, even if lost, are better than games that don’t mean cr@p because you’re 25 games out and two of your regular starting pitchers has an ERA of 5+, and no good relievers, and holes in the infield. Uggh.

      • nats1924 - Sep 9, 2015 at 11:08 PM

        lol, being a season ticket holder ever since they moved – I think id rather have a 100+ loss season than this past 2015 season.

        When we lost 100+ the games were easier to get to, less lines to get your nachos and beer, and waaay less stress.

  5. dcphanatic - Sep 9, 2015 at 10:00 PM

    I just wonder where the Nats go from here as far as Storen is concerned. He might still become a closer somewhere, certainly not here with the Nats. He seems shell shocked. I really felt for the kid when Cespedes crushed that pitch of him tonight.

    • Karl Kolchak - Sep 9, 2015 at 10:14 PM

      The only way Storen will ever be a closer again is for one of those 100 loss teams in a major rebuilding mode.

      • veejh - Sep 9, 2015 at 10:32 PM

        So, he’s our closer next year?

      • Karl Kolchak - Sep 9, 2015 at 10:41 PM

        Burn!

    • Guapo - Sep 10, 2015 at 8:57 AM

      It’s not Storen’s stuff. He’s got the pitches to close in the bigs. It’s just what’s between his ears that’s the problem.

      In all seriousness, maybe a kid from Stanford is too smart to be a closer. It’s the type of role where you have to almost be ignorant of the situation, the pressure. Maybe Storen is too smart to ignore the situation, and he just can’t help but let it get to him.

      Either way, his time at a National has to be over, it just has to be. We can’t let him be a big part of throwing yet another playoff opportunity down the drain. Two is enough.

  6. Mrsb loves the Nats - Sep 9, 2015 at 10:03 PM

    What a pitching performance by SS…. he was awesome. It was nice to see Bryce come in and check in for the series.

    Glad for an off day tomorrow.

    • Nats Fan Zee - Sep 9, 2015 at 10:09 PM

      Stephen was magnificent tonight and I am far from his biggest fan. What a shame. He came to play and play he did!!

      • Mrsb loves the Nats - Sep 9, 2015 at 10:10 PM

        I was going off when he came out… screaming no…

  7. unkyd59 - Sep 9, 2015 at 10:04 PM

    I suppose I can’t blame them… But I hate to be a place that boos their own… Makes a very sad situation that much sadder. But as I said… I can’t blame them…

    • ehay2k - Sep 9, 2015 at 10:34 PM

      We booed MW, and he deserved it. We cheered Stras loudly as he walked off.

      • GNat - Sep 9, 2015 at 11:44 PM

        MW isn’t throwing. Some players aren’t playing to their track record.

      • ehay2k - Sep 10, 2015 at 8:25 AM

        MW took out the only guy who was throwing well.

  8. RoadApples - Sep 9, 2015 at 10:07 PM

    MW is not absolved of some poor Manager decisions this season thus far; in particular some quirky pitching decisions.
    That being said in my opinion: the season’s record falls squarely and directly on all the players heads.

    • stoatva - Sep 9, 2015 at 10:12 PM

      Especially the injured ones!

    • raleighnat - Sep 9, 2015 at 10:12 PM

      I agree with this. Williams has sucked but that doesn’t explain the season. It is really on the players.

      • drunksapper - Sep 9, 2015 at 10:24 PM

        Good managers put their players into the best possible situations to succeed. Williams doesn’t do that. He either doesn’t do anything when any other manager should, or makes mindbogglingly stupid decisions.

        He makes Terry frickin Collins look like a genius. I can’t believe I typed that sentence in my lifetime.

  9. Joe Seamhead - Sep 9, 2015 at 10:12 PM

    You all? We all have to tip our hats to the Mets.

    That is all….

    • Karl Kolchak - Sep 9, 2015 at 10:15 PM

      Never. The Nats gave all three games away.

    • Mrsb loves the Nats - Sep 9, 2015 at 10:16 PM

      I wish teams would hand series wins to us… leading in all 3 games just to blow it with bad relief pitching and managerial decisions after the 7/8/9.

      Still trying to figure out why Drew after throwing 30 pitches last night… and Paps after 2 innings last night.

      • Karl Kolchak - Sep 9, 2015 at 10:30 PM

        I guess MW really did listen to the criticism he got for leaving them in the pen during the last series. 😦

      • Mrsb loves the Nats - Sep 9, 2015 at 10:36 PM

        He is always a day late and dollar short with his decisions. Cant make mid game adjustments at all.

  10. GNat - Sep 9, 2015 at 10:21 PM

    Everyone from Washington makes me sick. You have no right to boo anyone. Freakin fair weather fans!

    • stoatva - Sep 9, 2015 at 10:23 PM

      Boooooooo!!!!!

      • Mrsb loves the Nats - Sep 9, 2015 at 10:26 PM

        Hahahahahah +1 stoatva.. hahaaahah

      • sunshinebobby - Sep 9, 2015 at 10:41 PM

        Post of the night goes to … stoatva, in a runaway.

        YAYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY!!!!

    • veejh - Sep 9, 2015 at 10:29 PM

      Fair weather fans in DC? That’s the biggest joke of all time. What fair weather since 1991?

      • wvpastorphil - Sep 10, 2015 at 9:15 AM

        Or since 1924, (my Dad), and I since 1949. And that includes the 32 years that we waited and waited for a team.

    • raleighnat - Sep 9, 2015 at 10:36 PM

      If you don’t lose it after that performance and at that critical time, you are a true stoic my friend and kudos to you. I’m usually pretty cool but this flop was simply more than I can bear. I’m sure most of our guys are good, nice people but I am done with this core. i actually hope we make some trades this offseason and remake this teams personality.

  11. drunksapper - Sep 9, 2015 at 10:29 PM

    It only took Williams one playoff series and 3/4ths of a season for me to hate him on the same level as Zorn, Oates, and the fatter, dumber Gruden.

    I take that back, more than. The others at least had poor ownership, front offices, and poor rosters to take part of the blame.

    I think Williams has to take his shoes off to count to twenty.

    • veejh - Sep 9, 2015 at 10:31 PM

      LOL

    • Mrsb loves the Nats - Sep 9, 2015 at 10:35 PM

      Well Rizzo didn’t help MW as much as some think. BP was a weakness (I guess I should say is)… the line up is very right handed heavy… he didn’t do enough at either trade deadline.

      So it wasn’t like it was all gravy. Compound this with the injuries, the underperforming of 6 of 8 batters, the silly decisions by MW and his lack of knowing how to even manage a BP, and that about wraps up the 2015 season.

      • drunksapper - Sep 9, 2015 at 10:42 PM

        Even with the flaws and injuries, Williams poor situational management has cost this team at least 5-10 games.

        You put a competent manager in that wouldn’t have cost those games? Then its still a race with the Nats still potentially in the divisional lead.

        Last year this team was good enough where Williams could just sit in the dugout and not do anything. This year, they should have still been good with good management.

        Unfortunately, they’ve been stuck with a manager who I swear is making decisions straight out of “A Complete Idiot’s Guide to Managing a Baseball Team”

      • Mrsb loves the Nats - Sep 9, 2015 at 10:44 PM

        I agree. My point was just that he was as much as a problem as others. It wasn’t all on him.

        And believe me, I am NOT a MW supporter…

    • Karl Kolchak - Sep 9, 2015 at 10:37 PM

      Poor ownership? Check–I for one am pretty steamed about the stiff ticket price increase the Lerners are ramming down out throats in the wake of this debacle.

      Poor front office? Check–Rizzo has been running the whole show on his own without the adult supervision that comes with having a VP of Baseball Operations.

      Poor roster? Check–an historically awful bullpen, a lineup full of strikeout artists who rarely take a walk, four years of poor to terrible drafts in a row and every minor league team finished under .500 this year.

      • tcostant - Sep 9, 2015 at 11:03 PM

        I’m also upset about ticket prices. They cancelled my BOGO deal on Section 202 and I look behind me every game and its empty. My prices doubled. I won even consider renewing until Matt Williams is fired.

      • Mets fan - Sep 9, 2015 at 11:09 PM

        Poor drafts? The guy got Giolito for you right?

        Also not a draft but Trea Turner was s good pickup.

        I think Rizzo is overrated but credit where due

      • adcwonk - Sep 9, 2015 at 11:19 PM

        Joe Ross was a pretty good pickup (via trade), too.

        a lineup full of strikeout artists who rarely take a walk,

        Oh please. What counts is runs — and the Nats are 3rd in runs scored.

        And, btw, the Nats are third in walks — but don’t let facts distract from your narrative.

      • drunksapper - Sep 9, 2015 at 11:25 PM

        That and he got Trea for a bag of stale popcorn and a cold hotdog

  12. ehay2k - Sep 9, 2015 at 10:33 PM

    Was at the game, we all booed MW loudly for taking Stras out. Why take him out? Stras was dominant, not struggling. 13K’s and you pull him? And many a Nats observer can tell you that Storen is NOT as good coming in with runners on as he is with bases clear. (Nor is Storen good for 2 innings, even if he only pitched one out in the prior inning, but that is a topic for another day when MW makes that mistake too.)

    Solis had warmed up. The Mets don’t know him as well as they do Storen. MW doesn’t understand his players’ strengths and weaknesses. He has a Managing for Dummies book and goes by that, without regard for the people side of the game. He has a lot of strengths but his biggest weakness seems to be a poor feel for personnel and in-game situations.

    • veejh - Sep 9, 2015 at 10:36 PM

      Zero fire. He’s a zombie back there. I’m not there behind closed doors, but his demeanor during press conferences is probably just like his pep talks. Blah.

      • ehay2k - Sep 9, 2015 at 10:51 PM

        I actually appreciate MW’s even keel, and he does back his players, including getting wherever, when he feels he has to. But to me he just doesn’t have a feel for the nuances of the game. Sacrifice bunting Rendon last night just meant that Harper would get walked automatically with 1b open. That leaves Escobar, a GIDP machine, up for the win. 6-4-3 game over.

        The nuance here is that once the count got to 3-1, MW didn’t change his plan. I’d rather take my chances that Rendon gets s pitch to hit in a 3-1 count. But MW didn’t call off the bunt.

  13. Karl Kolchak - Sep 9, 2015 at 10:49 PM

    Well–it’s time to insert Turner into the lineup in place of Desmond, shut down Ross, give A.J. Cole a few starts so his potential for next season can be evaluated and give Zimmerman the rest of the season off to get an early start on healing so MAYBE he’ll be fully healthy next season.

    Of course, they won’t do any of this until they are officially eliminated.

  14. harperletsgo - Sep 9, 2015 at 10:51 PM

    For whatever reason I felt like putting my Rendon Gnome outside in my front yard this evening. I took my dog for a walk shortly after and she proceeded to take a dump on him…(this story is in no way a disrespect to Tony) I can’t help but think this was some for-shadowing.

    Seriously though. I agree your managers cannot set you up for failure but in the same regard….you have to step up when you are put in key spots. BH did it. Strassy did it. Noone else did really. And that’s been their problem all year long….no synergy.

    • drunksapper - Sep 9, 2015 at 11:17 PM

      That I blame on Span being out for most of the year.

      He seems to be that lynchpin on the team that makes everything work. Losing him hurt this team considerably.

  15. snopes1 - Sep 9, 2015 at 10:51 PM

    I just heard Matt Williams’ post-game comments. The first question was, of course, why did you take Strasburg out and put Storen in? Williams’ answer was something like “Gotta get Drew in to get the righty-righty matchup.” He repeated it a couple of answers later, “Gotta get Drew in to face the righty.”

    My impression has always been, though maybe I’m mistaken, that Strasburg also throws right handed.

    • stoatva - Sep 9, 2015 at 10:58 PM

      Oh, you and your damned facts!

    • drunksapper - Sep 9, 2015 at 11:01 PM

      I crap like this that makes me start to wish that he’ll get into a traffic accident on the way home.

      A stupid as his decisions are, his post game comments are outright infuriating.

    • sunshinebobby - Sep 9, 2015 at 11:09 PM

      At this point, I honestly believe if you pointed it out to Matty, he would go off on some geospatial tangent about it only being righty-righty in the northern part of the hemisphere part of the year, but if you were in Brazil and the sun were setting at a different ankle, it would be all set up correctly for him.

      Had it all set up just right. Just didn’t work out for us tonight.

      • Karl Kolchak - Sep 9, 2015 at 11:16 PM

        Don’t forget that it was Willimas who had Desmond bunt with two strikes last Friday night. He got a pass on that hugely idiotic decision only because Desmond didn’t bunt the ball foul and moved the runner over.

  16. NatsNut - Sep 9, 2015 at 10:57 PM

    I was sitting around a bunch of mets fans tonight in the lower bowl. They were plenty respectful and were really just happy with their team. Cant say as i blame them. I wld be ecstatic if our boys were half as hot. But it was painful to see a) clipppard pitching for the bad guys for the first time and b) the mets fans’ pure delight when storen came in. They were cheering and yelling, “we LOVE storen!” and “storen mvp!” Its all just so stunning and im more sad than mad. And thinking of how much more the so the players must feel, being the walk year for so many just breaks my heart.

    • drunksapper - Sep 9, 2015 at 11:00 PM

      Honestly, I think the Mets are the weakest of the playoff teams.

      My money is on the Cards and Jays. Especially since I’m positive that the Jays GM made a deal with Satan at the trade deadline.

      Wildcard being the Cubs, since it’s there destiny to win it all this year.

      • rabbit433 - Sep 10, 2015 at 8:33 AM

        I think the Mets will put up a great showing in the playoffs. Would love to see a NY/NY series and root for the Mets. But, if the Mets were the weakest of the playoff teams, they are one hell of a lot stronger than the Nats could ever hope to be.

  17. drunksapper - Sep 9, 2015 at 10:58 PM

    I’m almost scared for hockey season to start. The Nationals imploded spectacularly. The Skins are still the Skins. The Hokies QB got pink-misted by Ohio St’s defense and replaced by a 16 year-old.

    The Caps actually look like legit contenders, but now I have this sense of foreboding doom that’s going to befall upon them. I dunno if I can handle it at this point.

    • sunshinebobby - Sep 9, 2015 at 11:07 PM

      That foreboding doom concerning the Caps isn’t foreboding. It’s simply doom.

      Go, Habs, Go!!!

      • drunksapper - Sep 9, 2015 at 11:09 PM

        The Habs are gonna be screwed if Price regresses in any way.

    • Sec 3, My Sofa - Sep 9, 2015 at 11:10 PM

      Mystics are in the playoffs.

      • drunksapper - Sep 9, 2015 at 11:13 PM

        Thank god, I can finally shelf that infamous DC sports pessimism!

  18. sunshinebobby - Sep 9, 2015 at 11:10 PM

    But what if he just keeps getting better and better?

    • drunksapper - Sep 9, 2015 at 11:12 PM

      Doubtful, his career numbers don’t back that up

  19. harperletsgo - Sep 9, 2015 at 11:41 PM

    you know what the answer is right now. #yolo. If I were MW I’d put Papelbon for early relief. Storen = donezo, obviously. Treinen closing. Thornton for the 8th. Scratch Desi cause he is back to hacking away @ every trash pitch. Keep Michael Taylor for pinch hitting cause he’s clutch late in games. Occasionally use TyMo for closing because hey…why the F not, he did it once before. Done with Gio, start Fister instead. Suggest to Nationals promotions a turd bobblehead, Or have the presidents race end where they dive in to a slip in slide that ends up in a pile of poop.

    • NatsNut - Sep 10, 2015 at 8:35 AM

      Ok, that is pretty funny.

  20. robertrobert104 - Sep 10, 2015 at 5:57 AM

    We have proof now ; this team is full of chockers. And, yes, Matt Williams is stupid. worst manager ever. Period. using Storen again after the meltown of yerterday is a shame. critism are well deserved for MW. nationals will be remember as the chokers who shit on their pants when there is some pressure….shame shame shame

  21. carlospaula - Sep 10, 2015 at 6:58 AM

    It’s the Curse of Dan Snyder, I tell you

  22. richardp6 - Sep 10, 2015 at 9:30 AM

    This wasn’t the time to try to help Storen get his confidence back as MW said he was trying to do. He let the rest of the team down with that decision. I am sure he lost the clubhouse with that move. Its not like Storen has been good for the last two months and had a bad outing on Tuesday. He completely ignored his ineffectiveness and put him out there anyway. Do we not have any other righty’s that could have come into that spot without putting Storen and his 6+ ERA since ASB?

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