This is a tale of two teams. The Mets lost for the first time this year. The Nationals kept up their losing ways. The Mets are truly the shining city on the hill, in this scenario. The Mets fell behind the Braves, because of John Smoltz' superior pitching, and because of one big error by Shawn Green -- an error that opened the door for the Braves' big inning. Still, the Mets nearly pulled it out.
In the ninth inning, David Wright singled, and Carlos Delgado ran over to third base. Wright represented the tying run. Green came to bat with two outs, after Moises Alou flew out to short center. The Braves' first baseman, Craig Wilson, was holding Wright close to the bag, while also guarding the line to prevent a double down the first-base line. The Braves' closer, Bob Wickman, was not so attentive, and allowed Wright to get a great jump and steal second unchallenged. That oversight may have saved the game for the Braves. On the next pitch, Green smashed a line drive that Wilson was able to jump up for and catch -- a great game-saving play that Wilson could not have made, if he were still holding Wright close to the bag. Not quite the ending the Mets' were hoping for, but at least they went down with a fight.
The Nationals seem like a beaten team every time they take the field. The Nots seem destined for an historically bad season -- challenging the '62 Mets and the '04 Tigers for the worst records in history. When they take the field they are outclassed at nearly every position, most especially the starting pitching. Tonight, John Patterson marked the start of the second time through the Nots' rotation. Patterson had one bad inning -- the first. Put the Nots in a deep 3-0 hole. Jesus Colome had a tough inning in relief, in the sixth, that saw the D-backs stretch their lead.
The final score will show that the Nationals lost 7-1. In reality, they were shut out. Austin Kearns was credited with a home run, but replays showed it was a foul ball. The Nots did have some base runners, but failed to get the key, run-scoring hits, each and every time. They do very little right. They don't field especially well; they don't hit for power; with a few exceptions, they don't hit for a very high average; they don't have the speed to run the bases effectively, and they don't pitch very well -- at least not in the aggregate.
A tale of two teams. One at the top of the game, always in the game, with a chance of winning. The other, at the bottom, and usually out of the game by the end of the first inning. One playing with increasing confidence, and the belief that they can win every game. The other starting to play like they expect to lose every game...