For whatever reason Dillon Gee has the Nationals' number.
Gee has a career 3.94 ERA. He's a solid pitcher, for sure, and has put together a nice season for the Mets.
But when Gee faces the Nationals, he turns into Cy Young.
The Nats have just two hits and a run off Gee through five innings tonight, and they've gotten just three balls out of the infield. The right-hander has now gotten 13 of his 15 outs on groundballs (if you count a 6-3 double play as two outs on the ground), and just one Nats batter has been retired on a ball in the air.
Wilson Ramos has delivered the lone Nats run thus far against Gee, with his solo homer to left leading off the third inning briefly giving the Nats a lead.
The Mets countered in the top of the fourth, however, when Ike Davis smoked a first-pitch Jordan Zimmermann changeup into the Mets' bullpen for a two-run homer that put New York up 2-1.
Gee's ERA against the Nats this season is now down to 2.05 over 30 2/3 innings of work.
He's 3-1 against the Nats and 6-8 against everyone else. And he now has a lead in the middle innings despite Zimmermann pitching a pretty solid ballgame himself.
Update: Gee is now through seven innings of one-run ball. He's allowed just three hits. And he still has a 2-1 lead.
The right-hander has thrown 83 pitches, including 51 for strikes, so he likely still has a good bit left in the tank. Mets manager Terry Collins briefly came out to the mound with a trainer in the seventh, apparently after seeing something with Gee that they didn't like, but Gee waved them back to the dugout. He then struck out Ian Desmond on the next pitch.
Gee has a 3.99 ERA against all teams not named the Nationals this season. His ERA against the Nats is now 1.93.
Update II: The Mets' lead doubled in the eighth, when Daniel Murphy came around from second on a groundball behind the bag at third base that Ryan Zimmerman probably wishes he could have over.
Zimmerman fielded the ball cleanly, but he tried to make an impossible off-balance throw across the diamond, a throw that allowed Murphy to continue around third base and come in to score when Adam LaRoche couldn't scoop the ball cleanly. Zimmerman did well to get to the ball, and his intentions were good - to get the final out of the inning and leave Murphy stranded.
But Andrew Brown scooted down the line and beat the throw easily, and Murphy's run gives the Mets a two-run edge.
That did it for Zimmermann, who was lifted after 7 2/3 solid innings. Interestingly enough, it was bench coach Randy Knorr that came out to get Zimmermann and make the pitching change, not manager Davey Johnson.
Johnson is not at his normal perch next to Knorr at the top step of the Nats' dugout, and he isn't visible from my vantage point. Not sure where the skipper is, but it looks like Knorr is running the show for now.
Update III: The Nats got one back on Steve Lombardozzi's pinch-hit homer with two outs in the eighth (the first pinch-hit home run of Lombardozzi's career,) but they missed a chance to even the score or take the lead when Bryce Harper grounded out with two runners on to end the inning.
Harper swung at a 3-0 pitch down in the zone from left-hander Scott Rice, fouling it off, and then grounded the 3-1 pitch to Murphy at second base. Murphy dropped the ball, and if Harper was hustling down the line as he typically does, that play is probably pretty close.
Instead, Murphy had plenty of time to scoop up the ball and get Harper at first to end the inning and strand the tying run at second.
It's 3-2 Mets to the ninth.
Update IV: That's it. The Nats couldn't mount a comeback on LaTroy Hawkins in the ninth, and they fall to the Mets 3-2 in the opener of this three-game series.
This is just the second Nats loss in their last 10 games and drops them back to two games over .500 at 68-66.
I hope to have more on Johnson's condition/status after the game.