At the start of Wednesday’s game between the Nationals and Mets in Washington, the Nats bullpen had a 3.29 ERA. When compared to the 2010 equivalent that posted the fifth best bullpen ERA in Major League Baseball at 3.35, that 3.29 is an improvement. But after left-handed reliever Sean Burnett’s ninth inning collapse, the Nats bullpen ERA became nothing more than a number.
The Nationals entered the ninth inning up 3-2 and went on to lose the game 6-3 to New York. Washington’s left-handed starter Tom Gorzelanny went into the contest looking for his first win of the season but was left with a no decision.
Nationals Manager Jim Riggleman pulled Burnett and replaced him with right-handed reliever Drew Storen but only after the damage was done and Burnett was seven Mets deep. Storen ended the New York rally and the game by striking out Mets third baseman David Wright, which begs the question – why let Burnett face seven hitter if he gave up three consecutive hits and four runs?
The reason is justifiable. New York had left-handed hitters due up and when making the choice between right-handed Storen and left-handed Burnett, choosing the lefty is logical. The only issue with making the logical choice on Wednesday night is that logic didn’t pan out in the end.
Baseball is “a game of inches sometimes,” according to Riggleman, and Mets utility man Daniel Murphy made the most of that. Murphy’s pinch hit solo homerun in the eighth off Nats right-handed pitcher Tyler Clippard to the right field bullpen was his second of the season and third of his career.
Jayson Werth went 2-for-4 with a double and a single, scoring the Nats first run in the fourth. Alex Cora scored in the fifth off a Rick Ankiel RBI-double to left field and Brian Bixler scored as a pinch runner for Adam LaRoche in the eighth thanks to a sacrifice fly from Wilson Ramos.
Left fielder Rodger Bernadina slugged a hard-hit, one out double down the left field line off right-handed reliever Francisco Rodriguez but the Nats offensive push stopped there.
The Nationals finish their series with the New York Mets Thursday at Nationals Park at 7:05 p.m.