Welcome to the bigs, kid. (Ian Koski/Nats Daily News)

How bad do the New York Mets have it right now?

Wednesday night against the Washington Nationals, they were the beneficiaries of an inside-the-park home run AND a triple play.  And still lost.

The Nats survived those baseball oddities and turned a three-run eighth inning into a 5-3 win before 19,384 at Nationals Park.  It breaks the Nats five-game losing streak, and gives them a 21-20 record.

Even better, the winning pitcher was 22-year old Drew Storen, recalled Monday from Triple-A Syracuse, who finished the seventh inning for starter Livan Hernandez with a line out and ground out, earning his first career victory.

Storen pounded 94-96 MPH fastballs on the inside corner and put breaking balls on the outside corner.  During the post-game interview, he took not one, but two shaving cream pies to the face.

(Ian Koski/Nats Daily News)

Hernandez turned in another outstanding outing.

He went six and two-thirds and allowed two earned runs on just four hits and three walks, striking out two.  He threw 93 pitches and put his team in position to win, all on three days rest.

(Ian Koski/Nats Daily News)

Storen closed up the seventh when Livo let Henry Blanco reach on a single and get moved up to second on a sacrifice.  Jose Reyes lined Storen's third pitch right at shortstop Ian Desmond, and Luis Castillo followed with a bouncer to Desmond he handled cleanly.

Tyler Clippard pitched a scoreless eighth, striking out two, and Matt Capps gave up a solo home run to Fernando Tatis, but managed to close the door for his league-leading 15th save of the season.

The Nats got two runs against knuckleballer R.A. Dickey, activated just before the game, in the fourth inning.  Cristian Guzman (2-for-4, two runs, RBI) and Ryan Zimmerman (2-for-4, run, RBI) both singled to start the inning and Adam Dunn walked to laod the bases.  Josh Willingham drove in a run with a single, and Roger Bernadina hit a sacrifice fly to plate the second run.

(Cheryl Nichols/Nats News Network)

Washington scored three more time in the eighth.  Bernadina led off with a double and scored on Adam Kennedy's sacrifice fly, after Manager Jim Riggleman called for a squeeze play on the first pitch.  The Mets happened to call for a pitch-out on the play, but luckily, Kennedy was able to foul the ball off and keep the at bat alive.

Nyjer Morgan walked and scored on Guzman's triple, and Guz came home on Zimmerman's single. 

(Ian Koski/Nats Daily News)

Raul Valdes (1-1) took the loss on one-third of an inning, but Fernando Nieve didn't help the cause, allowing two runs on two hits and a walk.

But the odd plays will be what folks are talking about on all the New York talk radio shows.

Angel Pagan's second career inside-the-park home run came on a drive off the center-field wall. Nyjer Morgan couldn't make a leaping grab and Pagan rounded the bases, sliding home safely ahead of a relay by shortstop Desmond.

The ball actually hit the wall behind and to the left of where Morgan jumped.

The triple play was even stranger.

Livan Hernandez singled to left and Morgan walked, putting runners at first and second.  Guzman lit a sinking liner to center field that Hernandez thought was going to fall, and Morgan followed the lead runner.

Pagan made a terrific shoestring catch, and not realizing what was happening, tossed toward home plate, as Livo was standing on third and Morgan at second.  Catcher Henry Blanco retrieved the ball and tossed to second for the force on Livo and the relay to first completed the triple play.

Pagan became the first player in 55 years to take part in both feats in the same game. It couldn't keep the Mets from losing for the ninth time in 11 games.

Phillies shortstop Ted Kazanski was the last player to do both, on Sept. 25, 1955, for Philadelphia against the New York Giants, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. That was also the last time the same team pulled a triple play and hit an inside-the-parker in the same game, Elias said.

However, it's not the first time Pagan was in a game where an inside-the-parker and triple play happened.  Last August, Pagan hit his first inside-the-park home run, and the final three outs of the game came on then Phillies (now Nats farm hand) Eric Bruntlett's unassisted triple play.

When you come out to the ballpark, you never know what you're going to see.  Tonight proved that old adage correct yet again.

Thursday, the Nats wrap up the abbreviated two-game series with the Mets.  Luis Atilano (3-0, 3.90) faces John Maine (1-3, 6.13).

NATS NOTES:  Morgan went 0-for-2 with two walks.  He's eight for his last 46 at bats.

Ivan Rodriguez went 0-for-4 and is now two for his last 26.

Washington made two errors, one by Bernadina in right bobbling a single and Zimmerman made a throw pulling Adam Dunn off first.

The Nats struck out just twice, walked six times and left six on base.

2 comments

  1. Souldrummer // May 20, 2010 at 2:45 AM  

    Hey Dave. Having a hard time winding down from the Strasburg start which was must see watching and likely to do some responsible work on my personal goals tomorrow during the day and miss the ESPN Zone. Appreciate your work and commentary as usual. Stuff I would have been interested in asking Desmond, FWIW.

    1) What specific things are you gaining on days when you're not in the lineup? [Or some flavor to force a straight answer like How do you benefit from off days?] [part of the movement to play Desmond every day until he slumps. I know that I'm going to end up going to a game over the homestand where they sit Desmond, either Saturday or Sunday or both]

    2) Do you feel that a hitter should take a different approach in the 8 spot in the lineup vs. being in the 2 spot in the lineup w. regard to how aggressive they are or how much power they need to show? [part of the bat Desmond earlier movement that's being derailed by Desmond's streakiness]

    3) Does your hitting coach focus more on maintaining a positive swing or how to approach specific matchups and situations? [part of my concern that our inability to rack up pitch counts is something related to Eckstein's approach as a coach]

  2. Dave Nichols // May 20, 2010 at 10:12 AM  

    thank for the suggestions, sorry you'll miss ESPNZone.

    it's funny, last year eveyone was praising Eckstein, crediting him for the new-found patience at the plate for several hitters, including Zim and Hammer. this year? not so much.

    Pudge and Guz have been swinging at the first pitch their entire careers. no coach is going to change that.