The Nationals' 3-2 loss to the Mets on Wednesday afternoon left manager Jim Riggleman talking about "a game of inches," and that's a game the Nationals haven't played very well lately. They fell to 60-80 on Wednesday, dropping their 25th one-run game of the 42 they've played.
Flip the Nationals' 17-25 record in one-run games around to 25-17, and they'd be four games under .500 for the year. As it is, they sit 20 games under .500, having gone 40-65 since their 20-15 start. The Braves, who lead the NL wild-card race and are a half-game back of the Phillies in the division, are 80-60, meaning they've laid four 20-15 stretches end-to-end. This is a game of consistency, of finding ways to stay together in tough moments, and the Nationals haven't mastered that.
Here are the awards from yesterday:
Wilson Ramos: We covered the ins and outs of Ramos' day in a separate post, but the catcher deserves mention here for his performance filling in for Ivan Rodriguez, who was scratched with a stomach virus just before the game. Ramos hit his first homer, tying the game in the fifth inning and also adding a double in the second. It was a nice showing at Nationals Park for a player we'll see much more next year.
Livan Hernandez: After four straight outings without a quality start, Hernandez allowed three runs in 6 1/3 innings yesterday. He got himself in trouble in the third and gave up a couple runs, but left with the game tied until Sean Burnett allowed a runner he inherited from Hernandez to score. Hernandez has mostly been dominant, not just solid, against the Mets this year, but the way he'd pitched lately, the Nationals will take solid.
Joel Peralta: He struck out two batters in a smooth eighth inning, keeping the Nationals within a run. Peralta has allowed a run just once in his last 10 appearances.
Adam Dunn: He had a single to right with men on base in the sixth inning that loaded the bases and might have put the Nationals ahead had Nyjer Morgan read it better, but Dunn's defense was again the difference on Wednesday. Nick Evans' double past Dunn in the seventh inning put the Mets ahead for good. Should Dunn have made the play? It was a ball that fell in the same gray area we've seen all season; Dunn probably shouldn't have been expected to make the play, but a good first baseman would have. At the very least, he could have knocked it down by laying out for the ball.
Roger Bernadina: The outfielder is hitting just .253 with men in scoring position this year, and his feeble foul pop with the bases loaded in the sixth inning helped keep the score tied. Bernadina was 0-for-3 until Riggleman pinch hit for him with Alberto Gonzalez in the ninth.
In Case You Missed It:
--Mets pitcher R.A. Dickey had two hits off Hernandez, including a third-inning single that set up the Mets' first runs. Mets starters had three hits in the last two games of the series.
--Before he grounded out to end the game, Danny Espinosa hooked a long fly ball just foul off Hisanori Takahashi. The ball would have been at least a double off the wall, and might have gone out. But it hooked foul, and the Nationals couldn't tie the game. A game of inches, indeed.
1. Watch Evans' double again and tell me whether you think Dunn should have had the ball. He took a step in before taking one toward the line, which probably cost him a chance to stop the ball. But he might have blocked it if he dove, which he rarely does for some reason. What was your take on the play?
2. I'll have more on this in a little bit, but where are you at on the sign Dunn-let Dunn walk debate at this point? Mike Rizzo had a couple interesting things to say about it yesterday, and I'll elaborate on that in a blog post as soon as I'm done with this one, but to sum it up, it sounds like the Nationals are planning to have a big bat at first base one way or the other. Let me know whether you think that should be Dunn.
Leave your answers in the comments section, as usual. More in just a few minutes.