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Instant analysis: Mets 5, Nats 2

May 17, 2014, 6:54 PM EDT

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GAME IN A NUTSHELL: With an opportunity to beat the Mets for the 10th consecutive time, the Nationals had to like their chances this afternoon. Gio Gonzalez had a track record of dominance against New York’s lineup, and the Nats have beaten up on the Mets’ pitching staff so far this season.

Then the game started, and nothing went according to plan. Gonzalez was battered around for five runs in three innings, a rare bad start on the heels of another bad start by the left-hander. Bartolo Colon, meanwhile, had hits way with the Nationals’ lineup, allowing only Ian Desmond’s two-run homer in the fourth.

Craig Stammen (four scoreless innings of relief) did everything he could to give his teammates a chance to come from behind, but it wasn’t in the script today. A sellout crowd of 41,225 was left disappointed by a lackluster loss, the Nationals’ first to the Mets since Aug. 31, 2013.

Adding to the day’s frustration: With the Braves loss in St. Louis, the Nationals would have moved into first place in the NL East with a victory. Instead, they remain a half-game back at 22-20.

HITTING LOWLIGHT: Remember the feel-good Danny Espinosa story in April? Well, it hasn’t translated to May. The second baseman is back to the form that got him demoted to Syracuse last season. Over his last 13 games, he’s 4-for-47 with zero walks and 21 strikeouts. Even with his strong start to this year, if you add up Espinosa’s numbers over the last two seasons, it’s not a pretty picture: a .188 batting average, .223 on-base percentage and .560 slugging percentage, with 90 strikeouts and only eight walks. Matt Williams has little choice but to keep him in the lineup for now, but Ryan Zimmerman’s return is looking more and more significant for the Nationals.

PITCHING LOWLIGHT: In his 2-plus seasons with the Nationals, Gonzalez has pitched a handful of clunkers. But rarely has he ever pitched two of them in a row. Until now. Coming off a wretched outing in Oakland, the left-hander figured to bounce back against a Mets lineup he has historically dominated. But Gonzalez was roughed up for three runs during a 37-pitch first inning, then served up a 2-run homer to Juan Lagares in the third to put his team in a 5-0 hole. So, Gonzalez has now given up 12 earned runs over his last two starts, matching a career-high. Along the way, he has seen his ERA skyrocket from 2.91 to 4.62.

KEY STAT: The Nationals have given up three or more runs in the first inning 10 times this season. MLB’s 29 other clubs combined have done it only 58 times.

UP NEXT: The series concludes at 1:35 p.m. Sunday with a strong pitching matchup. Jordan Zimmermann gets the start for the Nationals against fellow right-hander Zack Wheeler for the Mets.

  1. davecydell - May 17, 2014 at 6:55 PM

    How long you guys gonna keep loving the strike out boy?

    • veejh - May 17, 2014 at 6:57 PM

      Bad Espi is officially back. Zim can’t get healthy soon enough.

    • manassasnatsfan - May 17, 2014 at 6:58 PM

      Once every 20 at bats

    • cayucosbaseballconservancy - May 17, 2014 at 8:11 PM

      1. Uhm let’s see with Danny in the lineup instead and Rendon at third a defense that leads the majors in unearned runs and is 3rd from last in errors looks improved?

      2. Zim still has a degenerative arm.

      3. Nats officials now say they are seriously considering putting Zim in left. If LaRoche continues to hit it might be permanent at least for this season …. oh Bryce?

      4. Span continues to avoid walks like the plague. Every once-in-a-while he takes one and lo and behold a big rally start and they do seem to score when he does? So why does he avoid them he’s not batting 6th,7th or 8th like Espinosa (although he should be)? If it continues what would stop them from given Bryce his favorite position in the outfield CF?

  2. David Proctor - May 17, 2014 at 6:56 PM

    Can’t come back every time. There were some chances. Werth got robbed of a HR. McLouth and Stammen were both stranded on second after doubles.

    The Mets were going to beat us eventually. We had won 9 straight. Just win the series tomorrow. Be an ace, Jordan.

    • manassasnatsfan - May 17, 2014 at 7:05 PM

      But the first inning pitching just ticks me off.

  3. Joe Seamhead - May 17, 2014 at 6:57 PM

    Ugly. Just ugly.

  4. manassasnatsfan - May 17, 2014 at 7:01 PM

    Ramos’s at bat swing at ball 4 that was no where near the zone. His worst at bat by far in 2014. Could have brought the tie run to the plate. The balloon lost its air right then.

    I felt that Ian would have homered had Ramos walked as the pitcher would throw a fast ball down the middle.

    Our bad bat discipline as a team killed us there.

  5. manassasnatsfan - May 17, 2014 at 7:02 PM

    Been over 2 hours since Gio’s first inning and I am still ticked at him. Probably mire ticked then Gio is.

  6. manassasnatsfan - May 17, 2014 at 7:04 PM

    MW can’t figure it out. It’s either mental or physical. Since MW says nit mechanical it must be mental.

  7. manassasnatsfan - May 17, 2014 at 7:06 PM

    If he says the shoulder is fine why keep mentioning it. Seems like MW doesn’t believe Gio.

  8. manassasnatsfan - May 17, 2014 at 7:07 PM

    Swinging at balls is not the batters problem. Come on MW you know better.

  9. manassasnatsfan - May 17, 2014 at 7:08 PM

    As manager you paid to out a finger on a consistent problem.

  10. BurnedOnce - May 17, 2014 at 7:09 PM

    Thank you Gio for the excellent roi on my season tickets! You make it thrilling and show how right you are to yell at you teammates and in all other respects act like a pitching diva. Please don’t ever change.

  11. manassasnatsfan - May 17, 2014 at 7:14 PM

    I figured out Gio’s problem and it is such as easy fix.

  12. NatsLady - May 17, 2014 at 7:18 PM

    Only got home from work in time to see the ninth inning, so, regretfully, will have to watch this one on the archive. What was wrong with Gio, anything look wrong with him physically? Was he in sync with Ramos?

    From the little I heard, I didn’t hear evidence of a game plan, with Span swinging early in counts, and not wearing Colon down. I’ve always thought Lagares was a terrific fielder, not sure why the Mets weren’t playing him all along.

    Really hope JZ can reach back and give a good outing. No off-days for quite a spell, so tough it out, boys.

    I’m 5-1 in my last six games at the Park… would like to be 6-1.

    • manassasnatsfan - May 17, 2014 at 7:26 PM

      Nibble with curves, throws fast balls over the middle. Nothing wrong with arm

    • npb99 - May 18, 2014 at 7:36 AM

      6-1? Please keep going. I’m 3-7 in my last 10

      • npb99 - May 18, 2014 at 7:37 AM

        5-1.. still good.

  13. manassasnatsfan - May 17, 2014 at 7:28 PM

    Here is the quick fix. In prior tears Gio would get a haircut the morning if every game. He has become slack about this.

    Get back to work Gio.

  14. Natsfool - May 17, 2014 at 8:05 PM

    I can’t quite explain the overly aggressive plate approach. You knew Meija was going to go with a slider there. Even if you didn’t, the approach had to be to force him to throw a strike. This is a frustrating team. Players like Desmond and Espinoza have pop, but their power is negated by their strike outs. Worse, I don’t see the ability to consistently adjust. They seem unable or unwilling to develop into well-rounded hitters.

  15. NatsLady - May 17, 2014 at 8:08 PM

    This paragraph, which I just wrote about Carlos Gomez, reminded me that we should perhaps not give up on Danny.

    Gomez, 28, is in his eighth major league season (Mets, Twins, Brewers). For the first five he was nothing special offensively, averaging .243/.291/.357, but his outstanding defense kept him employed. In 2012 he “figured it out,” posting a line of .260/.305/.463 with 19 homers and 37 stolen bases. He was even better in 2013, his All-Star season, hitting .284/.338/.506 (OPS+ 129) with 24 homers and 40 stolen bases, while winning a Gold Glove.

    Gomez had some really bad seasons offensively. http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/g/gomezca01.shtml

    • cayucosbaseballconservancy - May 17, 2014 at 8:13 PM

      Given that the Nats were last giving up the most unearned runs and third from the bottom in errors and don’t even look at the UZR and UZR/150 when he was on the bench?

      I don’t think its going to happen anytime soon.

    • veejh - May 17, 2014 at 8:13 PM

      I bet for every story like this, there’s 20 for the other side. Odds are stacked against Danny at this point.

      • cayucosbaseballconservancy - May 17, 2014 at 8:14 PM

        How many of those featured his glove at second and shortstop?

      • veejh - May 17, 2014 at 8:16 PM

        Like I said, 20 other equal defensive players that end up being DFAd because they cant hit for shlt.

      • NatsLady - May 17, 2014 at 8:22 PM

        Danny won’t get DFA’d. He could end up with a career like Cesar Izturis, though. Or even Nate McLouth.

      • cayucosbaseballconservancy - May 17, 2014 at 8:23 PM

        They’ve got one of those in Syracuse named Emmanuel Burriss. But he isn’t the shortstop that Danny is. Nor was Alberto Gonzalez. And neither of those can be projected to hit 20+ home runs, steal 20 bases, and 30 doubles. All of which Danny has done. How about your 20?

      • veejh - May 17, 2014 at 8:26 PM

        You think I can remember 20 MLB players that can play hella good D but cant hit? No one remembers those guys. They usually disappear quick, and dont get the amount of chances Danny has.

        ……and by the way, Im pulling for Danny.

      • veejh - May 17, 2014 at 8:31 PM

        ….and I cant believe you’re even bringing up first half 2011 Danny. Once the book was out, he was lost. He’s been lost since.

  16. stoatva - May 17, 2014 at 8:11 PM

    Saw almost nothing of the game, but did see Ramos and Desi flailing at that breaking pitch of Mejia’s. I have to conclude from that that it’s a really good-looking pitch when it leaves his hand.

  17. Ghost of Steve M. - May 17, 2014 at 8:11 PM

    “@HbgSenators: #SensWin game 1, 5-0. AJ Cole picked up the win, throwing a complete game. Michael Taylor and Cutter Dykstra both had solo homeruns”

    • stoatva - May 17, 2014 at 8:13 PM

      BHUHR

    • NatsLady - May 17, 2014 at 8:15 PM

      How many innings? I know they sometimes play only seven if it’s a double header. Not diminishing the accomplishment. Also, I saw a tweet that is Talyor’s 6th HR on the season.

    • cayucosbaseballconservancy - May 17, 2014 at 8:16 PM

      Have you heard anything as to why they continue to use second baseman/shortstop Burriss as the lead-off in Syracuse eschewing Goodwin even though he has a pretty high OBP?

      Taylor still leads-off in Harrisburg but his OBP can be likened to a Desmond, Espinosa, or Walters at this point.

      But he does have lots of home runs.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - May 17, 2014 at 8:37 PM

        Great question Peric. The Nats might need a leadoff CF next year.

  18. David Proctor - May 17, 2014 at 8:39 PM

    Gio sounds injured, from his postgame remarks. The shoulder.

    • NatsLady - May 17, 2014 at 8:45 PM

      What did he say? I was watching a pitcher who signed a $105MM contract over the winter get knocked out in the 4th inning. He’s been the picture of inconsistency, but no word of an injury.

      • David Proctor - May 17, 2014 at 8:53 PM

        But after the game, Gonzalez sounds like a player who is having trouble with his shoulder.

        “It is just one of those things you’ve got to keep grinding through, just trying to find out what it is,” Gonzalez said. “Hopefully something positive comes out of it. Other than that, try to stay positive.

        “Realistically, it is just arm was dropping a lot. I guess we will see.”

        “Just trying to stay loose most of the time,” Gonzalez said of his pregame throws, looking down-trodden during the postgame interview. “It was definitely tough. But other than that, you could see it. Arm slot wasn’t where I wanted it to be. Arm kept dropping. Fastball would come in harder and then sometimes drop a little bit in velocity. Hopefully I will figure it out.”

        After postgame, Gonzalez left his locker talking to trainer Lee Kuntz.

    • veejh - May 17, 2014 at 8:51 PM

      I’d think I’d rather have his suckage be from an injury than just svcking, but I hope he isn’t injured. What a dilemma.

  19. crazy4nats - May 17, 2014 at 8:44 PM

    Do you think MW let Gio hit for himself in the third inning because he hit a homerun off Colon last time? Doesn’t explain the bad bunt though…

    • NatsLady - May 17, 2014 at 9:22 PM

      Probably didn’t want to waste a pinch hitter that early in the game. Managers do that sometimes, expecting that the pitcher can at least have a productive out.

  20. NatsLady - May 17, 2014 at 9:21 PM

    Oh, man, look at this.

    • manassasnatsfan - May 17, 2014 at 9:27 PM

      He also had balk. Also in the first the dbacks went 3 up 3 down.

      He left losing 6-0.

      The snakes had 3 triples in the third.

      Hill was scratched at game time with an injury. Probably a shoulder from all the diving plays against us.

    • scmargenau - May 18, 2014 at 3:58 AM

      I love her.

  21. manassasnatsfan - May 17, 2014 at 9:28 PM

    Puig now 8 straight games with XBH and an RBI

  22. dcwx61 - May 17, 2014 at 9:38 PM

    Just back from the yards….now 1-1 for the season. They didn’t play the Mikey Morse song….Yeah!!!
    This town has so much soul, they played Martha and the Vandellas….more Like it….hope to hear some more of DC native Marvin Gaye.
    And the areas around the yards has transformed in the past year. Absolutely beautiful waterfront with at least 1/2 dozen new restaurants and more on the way…We couldn’t get into several of them with the -sell out crowd looking for somewhere to go to drown their sorrows.

    Not sure why we couldn’t score more against the all great and powerful toad

    • manassasnatsfan - May 17, 2014 at 10:01 PM

      I can tell you why, our batters swing tighter than a twisted rubber band. They don’t relaxed enough.

    • Eric - May 17, 2014 at 10:01 PM

      Totally trivial overall, but great to hear that about no Take On Me. Soul, funk, jazz, and GoGo are so highly appropriate, especially the last two given the integral role of DC in both genres.

      • dcwx61 - May 17, 2014 at 10:04 PM

        Yes,,,,at least they play some Chuck Brown after a Nats homer….love that.

  23. stoatva - May 17, 2014 at 11:12 PM

    Sounds like a trip to the Phantom DL is being prepped for Gio if he cuts loose another stinker.

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