It was Anthony Rendon's major league debut on Sunday, which certainly didn't bring on the national fanfare that Bryce Harper's debut did almost exactly one year ago, but it certainly garnered a lot of excitement from Nationals fans. Despite some very strong pitching by the Nats, the offense couldn't come alive as they dropped a 2-0 game to the Mets. The Nats are now 10-8 on the season.
Jordan Zimmermann was on the mound for the Nats, and he wasn't as efficient as he was for his complete game outing last start, but a lot of that just wasn't his fault. On the happy note, in the first inning, Anthony Rendon got his first defensive chance in the second at-bat. He made a great catch in foul territory over the railing in the Nats dugout. That's about the end of the positives to draw from the defense, though, on a three error game.
The Mets got on the board in the second inning when John Buck tattooed a ball to the second deck in left center field for his seventh home run of the year. That's not a typo. Buck is raking early this year. In the fourth, David Wright scored on a Mike Baxter sacrifice fly, giving the Mets a 2-0 lead and ending the scoring for the day.
In terms of positive events from the day, there are a few. Zimmermann threw 96 pitches in five innings, but he gave up just two runs. Uncharacteristically, he walked three batters, but he got himself out of several jams created mostly by defensive snafus. The Nats bullpen also performed admirably behind Zach Duke and Henry Rodriguez, who guys who struggled to start the season. Neither Duke nor HRod allowed a base runner. Duke went two innings with four strikeouts, and Rodriguez pitched the eighth with two strikeouts, both of them looking.
The negatives definitely outweighed those positives, though. The Nats committed three errors, which was their second three-error game of the young season. Ian Desmond committed his seventh error on a throw that was offline, but perhaps catchable by Adam LaRoche at first. He has almost half as many errors this year as he had all of last season, and it's only the first month. Bryce Harper committed his second error on a totally un-Harper-like play. He overran a ball and then showed no hustle to get the ball into the infield, allowing Mike Baxter to get to second base. Rendon also had an error in his MLB debut on a missed catch.
In the Nats only real offensive chance of the game in the eighth inning, Mets setup man Scott Rice allowed Steve Lombardozzi and Denard Span to reach on a single and a walk, respectively, and he was behind Jayson Werth 3-0 with no outs. Werth decided to take a hack at that 3-0 pitch, grounding into a 6-4-3 double play. Harper struck out on five pitches, none of which were fastballs and maybe one of which was in the zone, to end the inning and the Nats rally.
In the post-game press conference, when Davey Johnson was asked how he felt about Werth swinging at the 3-0 pitch, he said, "I'm not gonna get into that, okay?" That's all you need to know about how Davey felt regarding his decision there.
The Nats have averaged an error per game so far early this season. It's the team's biggest weakness early on, and it's one that has to get resolved quickly. Offenses get cold, pitching struggles from time to time, but defense should always be what a good team can lean back on, and right now, the Nats can't do that.