The Washington Nationals (1-0) showed a lot of good things in a come-from-behind win over the New York Mets (0-1) today, but after Wilson Ramos left the game in the seventh with an unknown injury, his status threatens to rain on the Nats’ season-opening parade.
Despite trailing most of the game, the Nats forced extras with two outs in the ninth and scored four runs in the tenth, three on an Anthony Rendon home run off of former Nat John Lannan, to defeat the Mets and win Matt Williams’ first game as Nats manager, 9-7.
This game got off to a pretty ugly start for Stephen Strasburg. In the bottom of the first, he gave up two singles and got two outs before Mets left fielder Andrew Brown took a 2-2 pitch to left, putting the Mets up 3-0. But the Nats responded in kind in the top of the second, when Adam LaRoche deposited a Dillon Gee pitch over the wall in right to cut the lead to one. LaRoche had an excellent game, going 1-for-3 with two walks, two RBI, and three runs scored.
Strasburg gave half of that gain right back with two more base runners and an Eric Young Jr. sacrifice fly in the next inning. After the bottom of the second, with the Mets leading 4-2, both pitchers seemed to settle into a groove. Of the 26 hitters to come to the plate from the third through sixth innings, only two reached base, both in the third.
Strasburg (ND, 0-0) put up great numbers in every area except runs allowed. In six innings, he allowed four runs on five hits and two walks while striking out ten. He struggled to find himself early, but after a two-out walk to Ike Davis in the bottom of the third, Strasburg did not allow another Met to reach base, retiring 10 straight and striking out five.
Jose Lobaton entered the game as catcher in the start of the seventh, surprising many who did not see an obvious injury to the injury-prone Ramos. The question of his status lingered until late in the game, when the Washington Post’s James Wagner reported that Ramos had broken his hand. However, after the game, Williams said X-rays were negative on Ramos, but that he would see a hand specialist tomorrow for a second opinion.
Back on the field, the Nats broke the streak of consecutive batters retired on a Bryce Harper single. Though the next two Nats made outs, the Nationals would rally to tie the score. Rendon doubled after a LaRoche walk, cutting the deficit to one and booting Gee from the game. Reliever Carlos Torres walked Nate McLouth on four straight balls in his McLouth’s first plate appearance as a Nat to load the bases. This got Torres pulled, but his replacement, Scott Rice, walked Denard Span on four pitches to drive in a run and tie the game.
Drew Storen continued the trend of sharp Nats pitching with a stellar seventh. His slider was working marvelously, as he struck out two Mets in a perfect frame. But after the Nats went down in order in the top of the eighth, Juan Lagares took Tyler Clippard for a ride to open the eighth, knocking a solo shot to left that gave the Mets a 5-4 edge. Lagares is universally lauded for his defense, but his bat is considered quite light, and he hit just four home runs in 121 games last season. But his bomb off of Clippard put the Nats’ backs against the wall, trailing 5-4 heading into the top of the ninth.
After an Ian Desmond single off of Bobby Parnell, the next two Nats made outs to bring up Danny Espinosa, pinch-hitting from the pitcher’s spot, with the game on the line. Espinosa put up a heck of a fight, fouling off enough pitches to eventually draw a walk. The next batter, Span, doubled to tie the game at five.
In the bottom of the ninth, Williams boldly chose to insert rookie Aaron Barrett for his major league debut. Barrett delivered on this faith, striking out two in a perfect inning to send the game to extras.
The Nats put it away in the top of the tenth. They notched two straight singles and an Ian Desmond sacrifice fly to take a 6-5 lead off of Jeurys Familia before he was pulled for former Nats opening day starter John Lannan. The Lannimal proceeded to walk LaRoche and give up a three-run, game-sealing home run to Rendon that put the Nats on top 9-5. Rendon finished the day 2-for-4 with a career high four RBI.
David Wright hit a two-run homer off of Jerry Blevins in the bottom of the tenth, but Blevins closed the door to secure an emotional rollercoaster of a Nats win.
-In the second inning, Harper was kicked in the head by Young Jr. running into second trying to break up a double play. He was initially thought to have been pulled from the game, but instead passed a battery of concussion tests and played the rest of the game. Postgame, he said he had a headache but passed another concussion test.
-Lobaton was strong in Ramos’ absence, going 1-for-2 and scoring a run. If Ramos misses significant time, Lobaton’s offensive capability could be huge for the Nats.
-Espinosa looked great in his game-saving at-bat, displaying impressive patience and discipline. He could be hugely important off the bench and as injury insurance if he can look like that every at-bat.