Before the Mets rallied in the ninth inning Monday night with a leadoff walk and a sacrifice bunt, the Nationals gave themselves an identical opportunity in the top of the ninth. The difference in the inning, and the game, was that the Mets made the correct plays, and the Nationals did not.
In the top of the inning, Steve Lombardozzi dug in for his first at-bat of the game. Against Jon Rauch, Lombardozzi drew a six-pitch walk, putting the go-ahead run on with no outs. Ian Desmond came to the plate, and Manager Davey Johnson called for a sacrifice bunt.
Desmond fouled off one bunt, took a ball and then pushed a slider to the right side. The ball came careening off his bat with enough pace that first baseman Ike Davis had time to pick up the ball, turn and fire to second base to nail Lombardozzi and effectively kill the rally.
“You know, I don’t really remember the last time I unsuccessfully bunted,” Desmond said. “Just got a little too much barrel on it, not off the end enough, and didn’t kill it.”
Said Johnson: “We need that. Could have been a whole different inning. We’ve just got to do the little things. We’ve still got some work to do.”
The Nationals produced 10 hits and squandered chances all night. In the first, Jayson Werth came up with men on first and third and struck out, unable to score the runner from third with less than two outs. The Nationals put the first two men on the seventh, too, but Adam LaRoche (who went 2 for 4 with a walk and an RBI) flied to left and Werth grounded into a double play. Werth is now 1 for 14 with a triple and seven strikeouts this year.
“It’s one of those games where we need to learn from our mistakes,” third baseman Ryan Zimmerman said. “We didn’t execute late in the game. Hopefully by July and August, we won’t be making the same mistakes. Late in the game, when we get some runners on, we need to execute a little bit better.”
After Henry Rodriguez walked Mike Baxter to lead off the ninth, the Mets took full advantage and the Nationals couldn’t execute a bunt play. You can read about that in the link below.
FROM THE POST
FROM YESTERDAY’S JOURNAL
NATS MINOR LEAGUES
Syracuse 6, Scranton/Wilkes-Barre 5: Bryce Harper went 1 for 3 with an RBI single and a walk. Zach Duke allowed one run in four innings on four hits and a walk, striking out four. Tyler Moore went 1 for 3 with a home run.
Harrisburg 6, New Britain 3: Josh Johnson went 3 for 4 with a home run. Jeff Kobernus went 2 for 5 with a double.
Potomac was off.
Hagerstown 8, Lexington 7 (11 innings): Rick Ankiel went 2 for 3 with two walks and a walk home run. Michael Morse went 2 for 4. Matt Skole went 2 for 4 with a home run. Todd Simko allowed no runs in two relief innings on no hits and a walk, striking out three.