Nationals 7, Mets 6 (12 innings)
At some point late in a game that no one seemed to want to win, Nationals shortstop Ian Desmond and Mets third baseman David Wright looked at each other, exasperated, and laughed.
“[They were] talking about ‘Is this game ever going to end?’” Desmond said. “You know, we were both like ‘Hey, let’s just go. Someone do it. Let’s get out of here.’”
They eventually did and the Nats were thankful they were the ones with the music blasting in the home locker room after Bryce Harper singled with the bases loaded and two out in the bottom of the 12th to finally win it. That’s not going to be an easy one for New York to shake off with Game 2 of this three-game series set for Wednesday night at Nationals Park. Read the highlights in our game story here.
The Mets three times blew a one-run lead in the late innings. Washington once led 3-0 before started Jordan Zimmermann gave up two solo home runs in the sixth inning to let New York back in the game. He left after just 81 pitches. By the end, after Ross Detwiler was the lone remaining relief pitcher left, Nats manager Davey Johnson contemplated using first baseman Adam LaRoche as his next pitcher. That decision was still several innings off. But if Johnson needed back-up catcher Jhonatan Solano to pinch hit for Detwiler to try and somehow, someway end the game then he needed to have an option.
“I was just going as long as the game did, so I think they would have left me go to about 100 pitches, just like a normal start,” said Detwiler, who just recently lost his hold on the No. 5 rotation spot to teammate Chien-Ming Wang. “I’m not that far off from starting.”
Johnson didn’t need to turn to Plan F or whatever he was going to call LaRoche pitching. Harper made sure of that. But they won’t hang this game in the Louvre. It was ugly.
“It was a wild game,” Johnson said. “They didn’t play very well, and we didn’t play that well, either.”
Had to feel for Mets shortstop Jordany Valdespin, who hit a pinch-hit home run in the sixth inning, but committed two errors in a nightmare 10th. That allowed both the tying run to get on base – Ryan Zimmerman leading off the inning – and that run to score when a hard-hit grounder destined for a double play kicked off his glove. Instead, Zimmerman scored and Desmond was safe at first. He and Valdespin had crossed paths before.
“If he would have turned that double play I would have tipped my cap to him,” a generous Desmond said of what appeared to be a routine play. “I hit that ball pretty hard. I feel bad for the kid because I actually know him pretty well. He played on my Winter Ball team. But he’s a heck of a player and that was a tough play.”
New York couldn’t hold a lead late, but Washington had its chances, too. Harper could have won the game in the ninth when he ripped a line drive towards left with Roger Bernadina tearing around the bases from first. Alas, left fielder Vinny Rottino somehow snared it and sent the game to extra innings.
In the 10th, after Zimmerman had scored to tie it again on a Desmond hit, the Nats had runners at first and second with one out and the bases loaded with two out. But Danny Espinosa and Rick Ankiel both struck out. Xavier Nady drew a leadoff walk in the 11th and never moved. Mets reliever Elvin Ramirez, a Nat for a brief time as a Rule 5 pick last year, struck out the side instead. But not even a Scott Hairston homer in the 12th was enough for New York. The Nats found a way to rebound again.
“I think that’s baseball. It’s part of the game,” said Michael Morse, who scored the tying run in the 12th on – you guessed it – a Desmond double. “Both sides had opportunities. We came out on top. That game it could have went any way, but we kept fighting. They were fighting, too.”
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