The Mets tonight turned a triple play against the Nationals, the first one in our fair city since 1964, and Angel Pagan hit an inside the park home run, but still it was the Nats that came out on top. The last time a team had a triple play and an inside the park home run in the same game was 1955 when the Phillies did it. Of course they won that game, while the Mets came up short tonight. Hard to think that a team that did two of the rarest single acts in baseball would also come up short.
Livan Hernandez went 6 1/3, giving up two runs, striking out two and walking three in his no-decision effort tonight. After the game, Riggleman said that it’s always tough to pull Livo, and that he gave serious thought to pulling him between innings. Hernandez gave way to Drew Storen’s home debut for the Nationals, and picked up his first win in the majors on a 2/3 IP effort with zeroes across. Clippard came on for the the 8th and Capps finished up Operation Clip-n-Save in the 9th for his 15th save on the season so far.
Facing Knuckleballer R.A. Dickey, the Nats had trouble at first, before they got to him in the fourth for a pair of runs on consecutive hits, and then got 3 more runs off the Mets’ bullpen in the 7th to lock up the game and a .500+ record. The Nats sit at 21-20 now, 4 games back of the Phillies in the NL East, and just a game back of Florida in 2nd.
The Inside the Park Home tonight came off the bat of Angel Pagan in the fourth, surprising everyone with what looked like it might be a double or triple off the center field wall. Center Fielder Nyjer Morgan ran deep into center, leapt up the wall, but couldn’t come down with it. Pagan, sprinting out of the box, made the turn at third at lightspeed, and the crowd just went wild. Despite being mostly a Nationals’ crowd, the roar of the crowd was immense as Pagan crossed the plate.
The fifth inning saw the Nationals threatening, with Livan Hernandez leading off the inning with a single to right, and a walk by Nyjer Morgan. Up comes Cristian Guzman who smacks a ball to Angel Pagan in center. Pagan made a diving catch, one that could go either way, and Pagan threw it back in to the catcher, who relayed it to short and first to double and triple up Livo and Nyjer Morgan who had advanced on what they thought was a hit. It wasn’t immediately clear that the ball was caught, and by the time the signal was made…well, the runners were well out of position. Bam, Triple Play. First one I’ve ever seen.
Worrisome for the Nationals, though, is Clippard’s health, as tonight he appeared to stop throwing his breaking ball after the first batter in the 8th, and stuck only to his fastball and changeup. After the game, Riggleman didn’t comment as to Clippard’s health, but said that they’re trying hard to figure him out and they’ll continue to play with his role coming in from the bullpen.
Notes: Paula Deen threw out the first pitch at Nationals Park tonight, and her pre-game show appearance was quite lively. At one point Deen threatened to cook the Nats’ mascot, Screech. It was all in good fun, but I’m betting Screech would be tasty in a lemon butter sauce with green beans and some roasted potatoes. Ted Kazanski was the name of the player involved in both the triple play and the inside the park homer in the 1955 game in Philadelphia. Storen got a collection of shaving cream pies after the game to celebrate his first win.