Setting The Scene...
The Washington Nationals and the New York Mets haven't...uh...met on the field of play since mid-May when the Nationals took three of four on the road at Shea to bring the season series up to 4-5 in favor of New York, who had taken three straight at home on April 15th-17th, and split two in the nation's capital a week later on April 23rd and 24th. At the end of the four-game series in May, the Nationals were six-games under .500 at 18-24, while the Mets were just 20-19, a game over even and two and a half games out of first behind Florida and Philadelphia. When the two teams meet tonight, in Game 120 of Washington's season, (119 for NY), the Nationals will have played 78 games since they last...uh...met the Mets...with the Nationals now 44-75 and dead last in the East, while the Mets are in second, still behind Philadelphia, but a half-game ahead of the Marlins in the race for the NL East crown...
On The Hill...
New York Mets' ace Johan Santana hasn't lost a start since June 28th (against the Mets' crosstown rivals in the Bronx), but the 29-year old former Twin, has only won 2 of his last 7 starts in July and August, entering tonight's game with a (9-7) record in 24 starts, and a 2.85 ERA and 135 K's over 161.0 innings on the mound for NY. It's hard to blame Santana, though, for the low win total, as the Mets' bullpen(or at least the current incarnation), has combined to blow saves in 6 games that Santana started and left with a lead...with Billy Wagner blowing (3), Scott Schoeneweis (2) and "Generic" Joe Smith adding (1) of his own blown saves to the pile...(of Fail?)
In his 9-year MLB career with the Twins and now NY, Santana's faced the DC franchise just 3 times, with a (2-1) record and a 2.45 ERA in 22.0 innings pitched against the Nationals/Expos. In his one start against DC this season, Santana pitched 7.0 innings against Washington on April 23rd, giving up 7 hits and 2 ER's with a walk and 4 K's while earning a "W" in a 7-2 Mets' win.
DC lefty "Opening Night" Odalis Perez has pitched against NY twice this season, losing the first outing after allowing 2 runs and 6 hits in 6 innings of a Nationals' loss on April 15th, and winning on May 12th, when Washington put 5 hits and 6 runs up in 5.0 innings on Nelson Figueroa and sent him back to the minors mumbling something about a girls' softball team...
Perez is (5-6) in 11 starts and 18 appearances against NY over his 10-year big league career, with a 4.08 ERA in 75.0 innings. At home this season, the 31-year-old native of Las Matas de Farfan, in the Dominican Republic, is (1-4) in 10 starts, though his record belies his success, while his 2.26 ERA in 51.0 innings speaks more to his own efforts.
Odalis Perez is (2-0) in 2 starts this August with a 2.13 ERA in 13.1 IP, but that's coming off a (1-3) July, where Perez posted a 5.92 ERA in 24.1... A winner in 3 of his last 5 starts, Perez is (4-4) in his last 10, with Washington 5-5 with "Opening Night" on the mound over the same stretch...
Nationals' #'s Against Johan Santana...
Ronnie Belliard - 4 for 21, .190 AVG, 2 RBI's, 7 K's.
Jesus Flores - 1 for 3, .333 AVG.
Austin Kearns - 1 for 6, .167 AVG, 1 2B.
Cristian Guzman - 5 for 6, .833 AVG.
Wil Nieves - 2 for 5, .400 AVG.
Ryan Zimmerman - 1 for 6, .167 AVG, 1 HR, 3 RBI's.
The "If They Were Playing" List...
DY - 5 for 18, .278 AVG, 1 HR, 2 RBI's, 7 K's.
Wily Mo Pena - 3 for 5, .600 AVG.
Aaron Boone - 2 for 17, .118 AVG, 1 2B, 1 RBI.
The Mets vs Odalis Perez...
Carlos Beltran - 5 for 12, .417 AVG, 3 RBI's, 1 SB.
Endy "Cover Your Heart" Chavez - 3 for 14, .308 AVG, 2 SB.
Damion Easley - 3 for 7, .429 AVG, 1 HR, 2 RBI's.
Fernando Tatis - 2 for 6, .333 AVG, 1 HR, 1 RBI.
Jose Reyes - 5 for 7, .714 AVG, 1 2B, 1 3B, 2 CS!
David Wright - 4 for 9, .444 AVG, 2 HR's, 4 RBI's, 2 SB.
Classic Met vs Odalis Perez Matchup...
Todd Zeile - 8 for 29, .276 AVG, 1 2B, 1 HR, 2 RBI's.
See You In September? Or Not?
When asked, in the most recent edition of MLB.com's Bill Ladson's mailbag entitled "Mailbag: Should the Nats spend more?":
"When can we expect to see guys like Justin Maxwell, Chris Marrero, and Mike Daniel and Michael Burgess to be(sic) called up to the big leagues?"
Mr. Ladson responded:
"Maxwell and Marrero are out for the season because of injuries. As far as Daniel and Burgess go, I don't see them in the big leagues this year for different reasons. Daniel has been off and on offensively, while the team has no plans to rush Burgess, who is still in Class A ball."
So who does that leave for a September call-up? All arms? Bernadina?
Will Lasting Milledge Make The Mets Pay?
In 8 games and 28 at bats against the New York Mets, (the team that drafted him 12th overall with their 1st Round pick in the 2003 MLB Draft), Lastings Milledge is 4 for 28 in 8 games for a .143 AVG with 2 doubles, 2 RBI's and 12 K's...That's 7 more K's against the Mets than he has against any other team, with Seattle and Philadelphia both tied at 5 K's vs Milledge, and 6 other teams against whom he's K'd 4 times each, which might make you think the Mets have got the goods on Milledge? Or maybe he's just swinging for the fences against his former team?
Check the NatCast if you're heading to Nationals Park...
For A Mets' Fans' Perspective, Check The SBN's Mets' Blog...
Game 1 of 3 with the Mets in DC. Odalis vs Johan. How's Schneider working out for you guys? Pfft! I'll take Flores and Milledge over Schneider and Church any day...But in all seriousness? What did you guys do to Church? Orlando Hernandez sat a whole season in Montreal too, I understand...Washington hasn't played New York in so long my anger has subsided, I give it an inning or two, or until they first hit one of DC's batters...and they will hit them...Who's Watching The Nationals?