Six games into the 162 game opus is far too early for a team to assign do-or-die status.
But judging from the painfully blunt words originating from the somber countenances of the New York Mets, they believe that their season could very well be over before it ever begins.
“You look at this team. We lost our first two series,” said first baseman Mike Jacobs in a pin drop silent locker room after the Mets’ disheartening 5-2 loss to the Nationals Sunday afternoon.
With the loss, the Mets fell to 2-4 on the season. The Mets begin a six-game road trip against the Rockies and Cardinals starting Tuesday night. They return home for a 10-game homestand against the Cubs, Braves and Dodgers beginning next Monday.
“It’s kind of disappointing,” Jerry Manuel said. “(Sunday’s) game was not a good game for us. I thought we appeared unprepared and I have to take responsibility for that.”
Specifically, the Mets were not ready for Livan Hernandez. The ex-Met baffled his former mates with his off-speed stuff. The Mets only recorded five hits in seven innings off of Hernandez (1-0), which earned ire from their manager.
“I think sometimes until you experience it, it doesn’t relate. It’s unfortunate that you have to experience it to really understand. I would hope that we would become better at that, than what we’ve shown so far,” Manuel said of his team’s approach against Hernandez. Hernandez slapped a single to centerfield in the seventh for good measure. “We’re going to have to address (not hitting with runners in scoring position). How we do that is discuss ways to get the message across.
“You’re going to make outs in this game. I think the approach has to be corrected. We have to have the right mindset going forward and I haven’t seen that.”
The one certainty with the Mets was that Johan Santana would take the mound once every fifth day and all would be right in their world. That was not the case yesterday as Santana (1-1) struggled in his second start of the season as he lasted only five innings against a lineup that is hardly reminiscent of the Murders’ Row Yankees. Washington roughed up Santana for five runs on five hits while drawing three walks.
Josh Willingham plated all of the Nationals’ runs.
He slammed a first inning grand slam, and drove in Adam Dunn with a RBI double in the third.
“I tried to throw my fastball but I didn’t have it in the first inning. It was all over the place. I wasn’t able to command it,” explained Santana. “I tried to throw him a fastball and then I threw him a changeup that didn’t do anything. He put a good swing on it and the ball was carrying. Just like that the whole game changed.”
The Mets broke through in the eighth with Jacobs’ two out, two-run home run off of Brian Bruney that cut the lead to 5-2. The homer was the first of the season for Jacobs and the 100th in his career. Jeff Francoeur followed with a single and advanced to second on a throwing error by third baseman Alberto Gonzalez, but Gary Matthews’ strikeout ended the rally.
The Mets announced before the game that reliever Sean Green was put on the 15-day DL with a right intercostal muscle strain. Raul Valdes was called up from Triple-A Buffalo. Green’s only appearance in the early season was in last Wednesday’s 7-6 loss to the Marlins. He allowed two hits and a run in an inning of work.
Valdes made his Major League debut in the sixth inning. He only allowed two hits in two innings and struck out two.
? The series finale marked Jose Reyes’ second game back after missing most of last season with a hamstring and the first four games of this year with a thyroid. Without their top-of-the-lineup igniter, the Mets were a combined 54-79 in a 133 game span.
? There were late fireworks as the benches and bullpens emptied after Francisco Rodriguez hit Willie Harris with a pitch in the ninth inning. No punches were thrown.
Rodriguez began shouting and pointing as Harris jogged to first. Harris was restrained by Nationals first base coach Dan Radisson and Jacobs while Rod Barajas tried to calm Rodriguez.
Rodriguez would not divulge what Harris said. “He said a couple words that I didn’t like,” Rodriguez said. “I took it in a bad way.” The closer emphasized that he was trying to pitch inside and would continue to do so in the future.
“When I try to make a pitch inside, (hitters) seem to get upset. I have to do my job,” Rodriguez said. “I’m going to keep pitching inside and if I hit them, I hit them. But I know for sure that I’m not doing anything on purpose.”
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