The Nationals had worked their way into a chance to win it in the ninth inning on Wednesday. After scoring a run on a sacrifice fly by catcher Wilson Ramos, Washington led 3-2.
Heading into the top of ninth inning, the Mets had hitters five, six and seven coming up next. The Nationals manager Jim Riggleman elected to give the ball to lefthander Sean Burnett to get three outs.
New York had a different idea, however, and loaded the bases on three straight base hits. New York tied the game on a sacrifice fly and took the lead on a Josh Thole ground out.
Then, following an intentional walk to Jose Reyes, late-game hero Daniel Murphy crushed a two-run double down the right field line to lift the Mets to a 6-3 lead and their second win in the series. Drew Storen was able to get the final out of the inning on a strikeout, but the damage was done.
So why did Riggleman go with Burnett instead of Storen in the ninth?
“That was just the manager’s decision,” Riggleman said. “They had three out of four lefties coming up in the inning. My concern was (Jason) Bay leading off, then we had (Ike) Davis, (Willie) Harris, pinch-hitter and (Josh) Thole.”
“I felt that my confidence in (Burnett) was that he has been very effective for us. He would get it done there. If I had to go to Drew with an out or two that was what we would do if a possible right-hander came up in (Chin-lung) Hu.”
“(The) ball was just out of reach that Bay hit. The ball that Davis hit, (Bernadina) made a great effort on it and just couldn’t get it in left field. If either one of those balls are outs we are in pretty good shape.”
Burnett said it just didn’t work out for him in the ninth, even though his pitches to the first two hitters were down in the zone.
“(The) first two guys got a ground ball up the middle for a infield hit and then a soft liner to left that dropped,” Burnett said. “It kind of snowballed after that. It could have went either way there. It could have been two outs nobody on or two men on and nobody out. Unfortunately, the luck didn’t go my way tonight. I just couldn’t get it under control.”
Burnett felt he made some good pitches to Bay and Davis, but could not get them out. That made the difference for the Mets.
“I think the one Jason Bay hit was below the knee and off the plate,” Burnett said. “He just stayed up the middle with it and hit it in the right spot. I think with Ike (Davis) I get in on him and he just flared it to left and fought it off. I didn’t get the breaks tonight. They made the big hits and drove in the runs when they had to.”