Stephen Strasburg mowed down the Mets Wednesday afternoon as the Nationals beat the Mets 4-0. They took the series and sent the Mets down to their second straight defeat. But give a huge assist for the win to home plate umpire Larry Vanover.
The game was a duel of past, present and future — Strasburg vs. Johan Santana. Both struggled early — Santana allowed a run in the second inning on a wild pitch (left), but then he settled down, allowing just that run in five innings with eight strikeouts.
Santana was even allowed to start the sixth, but was removed after walking leadoff batter Jayson Werth. It was promising that Santana was allowed to exceed his pitch count, throwing 99 pitches. It is a good harbinger for the future and for his health.
Strasburg started out the first allowing a hit and a walk, but he also settled down and didn’t allow another hit until the sixth. He would pitch six inning, allowing no runs and just the two hits to go along with nine strikeouts.
The Mets did mount a threat in that sixth. With one out and runners on first and second, Vanover called strike two on Jason Bay on a pitch that was clearly outside. Then he called strike three on a pitch that was even more outside. Bay uncharacteristically and rightfully argued. But the threat was over — Josh Thole flied out to end the inning. Terry Collins was tossed from the game a half inning later for arguing with Vanover, likely about those two strikes.
Washington would add three runs against the Mets bullpen for the 4-0 final. Overall, Mets pitchers allowed 10 walks, including two with the bases loaded. That’s difficult to overcome especially with the offense struggling to score runs without David Wright.
Strasburg was tremendous, but it would have been a far different game had Vanover gotten those calls correct. It is somewhat acceptable for umpires to blow calls on balls that are just off the strike zone. But these pitches were not even close. It is a shame to have a potential rally snuffed out, and then lose a game, over calls like those.
The Mets are now 4-2 and fell into a tie for first place in the NL East. They have a day off before heading down to Philadelphia for a weekend series with the stupid Phillies.