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Open Thread...9/18/07 Mets vs Nationals Game 2 of 3 (SPOILER ALERT) (SPOILER ALERT)

Game two of three in RFK Stadium, Washington, DC features:

John Maine (14-9, 3.72 ERA) vs Joel Hanrahan (4-3, 5.83)

     When the New York Mets jumped out to an early lead over the Washington Nationals last night, the Mets announcers unfavorably compared the Nationals roster to that of a generic Triple-AAA team. The announcer's partner quickly countered the assertion, admittedly speaking up for the Nationals, and then the Nationals made the announcer eat his own words with a 13-4 drubbing of a struggling, but still in first place, Mets team.

     Tonight, the man who has arguably been the Mets ace this season, John Maine, is on the mound against yet another young Nationals starter, Joel Hanrahan, as the Mets look to end a near-disastrous late season losing streak, and the Nationals aim to strike one more blow against their division foe.

     Maine, in his fourth Major League season, but essentially his first full year, has struggled lately, going (2-4) in his last eight starts since the beginning of August, during which time he's given up 46 hits, 29 ER's, 7 HR's and 23 walks, while striking out 38 in 41.2 innings of work leaving him with his current (14-9) record and 3.72 ERA after starting the season (12-5) from April through July.

     Maine's 6.32 ERA in August and 6.10 ERA so far in September are up a full point from the previous montly high of 4.50 he posted in April. Against the Nationals, Maine is (3-1) in six starts, with 20 hits and 14 earned runs against, 4 HR's allowed, 14 walks given and 35 K's recorded in 33.2 innings of work overrall, including 5 innings of 1 hit ball in a five-inning complete game shutout in NY on July 29th.

     On July 28th of this year, the Nationals right-handed sinker-baller Joel Hanrahan made his Major League debut against the Mets in the same series as Maine's short shutout. Hanrahan received no decision in that game, going 6.0 innings and allowing 4 hits, 3 runs, 1 HR and 1 walk with 6 K's.

     Hanrahan's been hit hard in his last two starts after throwing 6.0 innings of 1 hit ball on September 1st against San Francisco. First Atlanta knocked him out after 3.1 innings, during which he allowed 4 hits, and 5 runs, and then Florida connected for 3 runs on 6 hits in the same 3.1 innings, with Hanrahan walking ten Braves and Marlins hitters combined in the 6.2 innings of work.

     Ronnie Belliard is 4 for 7 in his career against Maine. Ryan Church has a home run for his only hit in 5 at bats against the Met right hander. Wily Mo Pena's never faced Maine, but he does have 13 hits in his last 31 at bats including 3 HR's and 2 doubles with 7 K's in the 7 game mini-streak.

     Washington looks to rain on the NL East Pennant parade the Mets fans have already been planning. If the Nationals can't make the playoffs, they can at least try to keep New York out as well. It's September. It's baseball. And it counts. What more can you ask for?...

...Anyone watching. I'll check in for comments, now sing with me...

*"Meet the Mets, meet the Mets,
Step right up and beat the Mets.
Helping the Phillies, is not that much fun,
But if it keeps the Mets out, it has to be done..."