December 20, 2014

Washington Nationals Game 1 Recap: Nats comeback against Mets pen, win 9-7

If Opening Day was any indication, this will be a wild season of baseball for the Washington Nationals.

Stephen Strasburg allowed a three-run homer in the first inning, settled down to strike out 10 batters, and the Washington Nationals then came back against a porous New York Mets bullpen, capped by Anthony Rendon’s three-run homer off John Lannan in the top of the tenth inning to win 9-7 at Citifield.

The bad news: according to reports during the game, catcher Wilson Ramos broke a bone in his left hand and will miss up to six weeks. [edit — After the game, manager Matt Williams indicated the x-rays taken on Ramos were “negative” and he would see a specialist in D.C. on Tuesday.]

The Mets got to Strasburg in their very first ups. Strasburg struck out Eric Young to start off the first, but Juan Lagares and David Wright singled back-to-back to put runners on the corners. Strasburg got Andrew Brown to 2-2, but a fastball that was designed to hit the outside corner tailed back into Brown, and he crushed it to left center for a three-run homer.

The Nationals got two back in the top of the second. Bryce Harper drew a lead-off walk and was erased on a fielder’s choice to short by Ian Desmond that would have been a double play were it not for Harper’s late, hard take-out slide. Harper was kicked in the head by Young for his troubles and stayed on the field for a few moments, but left the field under his own power and stayed in the game.

The next batter, Adam LaRoche, crushed an 89-MPH fastball 10 rows deep into the upper deck in right field to make it 3-2 Mets.

The Mets picked up another run in the bottom half. Travis d’Arnaud walked to lead off and Ruben Tejada singled. Dillon Gee’s sacrifice mived both runners up, and Young’s fly ball to right was dep enough to plate d’Arnaud.

After that, it was a pitcher’s duel, with both hurlers trading outs for the next three innings, until Strasburg departed after the sixth. The big righty settled down nicely, retiring his final 10 batters and 12 of his last 14. He finished with five hits, four earned runs, two walks and 10 strikeouts, with 64 of his 102 pitches for strikes.

Meanwhile, Gee carved up the Nats, retiring 15 in a row until Harper reached on a hard-hit single off the glove at Young at second base. Desmond forced him again, but LaRoche followed with a walk. Anthony Rendon delivered a run-scoring double to the right field corner to plate Desmond, but the slow LaRoche was held at third.

Pinch-hitter Nate McLouth drew a four-pitch walk to set up a bases loaded, two out situation for Denard Span against reliever Scott Rice.

Rice couldn’t find the plate. Four straight balls handed Span first base and the Nats their fourth run of the day, tying the game. Jose Valverde was summonsed to pitch to Ryan Zimmerman, and the big righty got Zim to swing through a ball fro strike three.

The Mets breathed life back into the Citifield faithful in the bottom of the eighth, as Juan Lagares homered off Tyler Clippard leading off the frame.

But that only set up the Nats heroics in the top of the ninth. Ian Desmond led off with a single and went to second on Danny Espinosa’s tow-out, pinch-hit, eight-pitch base on balls. Denard Span then ripped a double to left center, which scored Desmond from second to tie the game at five.

For the second inning in a row though, Zimmerman ended a rally with a fly ball to center.

After a 1-2-3 MLB debut with two strikeouts for Aaron Barrett in the bottom  of the ninth, the Nats went back to work against reliever Jeurys Familia. Jayson werth led off with a sky-high fly ball that eluded the Mets in short left center, then Jose Lobaton (in for injured Wilson Ramos) sent a broken bat liner past second base.

Ian Desmond fought through an eight pitch at bat before delivering a fly to medium right that allowed Werth to walk home with the go-ahead run.

The Nats weren’t done. The Mets brought in old friend John Lannan to face LaRoche, and issued a five-pitch base on balls. Anthony Rendon then greeted Lannan’s first offering with a huge clout to left center. The three-run shot made it 9-5.

Jerry Blevins coughed up a two-run, two-out gopherball to David Wright in the bottom half, but it was too little, too late for the Mets.

About Dave Nichols

Dave Nichols is Editor-in-Chief of District Sports Page. He is credentialed to cover the Washington Nationals, Capitals, Wizards and Mystics. Dave also covers national college football and basketball and Major League Soccer for Associated Press and is a copy editor for the Spokesman-Review newspaper in Spokane, WA. He spent four years in radio covering the Baltimore Orioles, Washington Redskins and the University of Maryland football and basketball teams. Dave is a life-long D.C. sports fan and attended his first pro game in 1974 — the Caps’ second game in existence. You can follow him on Twitter @DaveNicholsDSP

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