Nationals starter Luis Atilano got to the fourth inning Friday pretty much unscathed. He allowed a first inning hit batter and then a single. A ground out by Ike Davis scored the Mets first run and they led 1-0.
But in the fourth, trouble brewed as the first three men got on base. David Wright led off the inning with a double and Atilano struggled with control to the next two hitters, walking both Davis and Jason Bay.
With the bases loaded and nobody out, it looked as if Atilano might be on the ropes.
But, as he has done many times this season, he got within one pitch of getting out of all of the danger. He forced Rod Barajas to pop out and then got Jeff Francoeur to line out to Ian Desmond.
Then a fastball to Alex Cora almost left the park and turned into the game turning three-run triple. Michael Morse almost had a chance to make a stunning play but the wind and the wall made it difficult and the ball dropped in for a big Mets base hit.
“It was a bad inning. I wasn’t able to be on top of the hitters today that is why I ended up in trouble. In the fourth inning, the two walks (really hurt). I was trying to get out of the game. But one bad pitch to Cora. If I make one bad pitch I am going to pay for it. So that is what happened there.”
Atilano let himself exhale after getting the two outs and thought he would be able to shut down Cora.
“I thought I could get Cora easy. I think that is why I made a mistake on that pitch because I thought I could get him easy. But it all went the wrong way.”
Atilano says he will not make any radical changes after this start because he still feels he had moments where he was pitching well.
“Not really, keep doing the same, I feel good, I was throwing good, but just one bad inning. For next start I will be able to do good because what we are putting in during the week is reflecting in the game.”
Jim Riggleman says he thought Atilano had his moments in this game when he pitched well and could have gotten out of the fourth inning. “Atilano actually threw the ball a lot better than the results said.”
It was Atilano’s first start since Detroit on June 17 that he had allowed more than two earned runs after back-to-back good starts against the Royals and the Orioles where he notched a win and a quality start, respectively.
The two walks in a row were uncharacteristic of what we have seen in Atilano’s control having walked only four batters in his previous five starts.