It feels like forever since New York Mets starter Johan Santana has had a quality start. Coming into Friday night’s game, Santana had lost four straight starts and had given up a combined 27 runs in the process.
He went up to the mound to face the MLB leading Washington Nationals to open up a three-game series. Santana was cruising along early as he was showing the form that he had in the first half of the season.
He had pitched three perfect innings to start the game as the Mets lineup provided him with some run support. In the top of the first inning, the Mets got on the board against Ross Detwiler, who was on the mound for Washington.
Detwiler was able to get the first two men out, but gave up a single to David Wright that landed in right field. Scott Hairston followed that up with a double to right to put men on second and third. Daniel Murphy continued the two-out rally by smacking a single to center, scoring Wright and Hairston to give the Mets a 2-0 lead.
In the bottom of the fourth, Santana came back to earth rather quickly. The Nationals hitters loaded the bases with back-to-back-to-back singles by Jason Werth, Bryce Harper and Ryan Zimmerman to start the inning. Left fielder Michael Morse came up to the plate next and cleaned house by smacking a grand slam to the right field stands to give the Nationals a 4-2 lead.
Santana’s struggles continued in the fifth. After getting the first two men out, he gave up a single to Werth. The rookie all-star, Bryce Harper, came up to the plate next as Santana served him a two-run home run to give the Nationals a comfy 6-2 lead.
Santana was done after five innings of work as he allowed six runs on seven hits. He becomes the first Met pitcher to give up six earn runs in five straight starts. The Mets did scratch a few runs here and there as they tried to inch closer to a comeback.
In the top of the sixth, Ronny Cedeno hit into a RBI ground out to the shortstop Ian Desmond as Hairston scored from third to cut the lead 6-3. In the top of the seventh, Kelly Shoppach got his first hit as a Met, homering to left field to cut the Nationals lead 6-4.
In the ninth inning, Nationals closer Tyler Clippard came in to the finish the job. He was in trouble early when he walked lead-off hitter Cedeno to put the tying run at the plate. Clippard, though, struck out pinch hitter Ike Davis and Shoppach as he was one out away to finishing the game.
Jordany Valdespin came up to the plate next and was walked as the drama risen just a bit more. The Mets now had men on first and second with the go ahead run, Ruben Tejada, stepping up to the batter’s box. Tejada, though, couldn’t provide the heroics as Clippard got him to fly out to left to end the game to seal another Mets loss.
The Mets have now lost five straight series openers, dating back to August 3rd against San Diego. They resume the series Saturday night as Jon Niese takes the mound against Edwin Jackson.
Follow Angel Ortiz on Twitter: @aortiz527