Mets and Nationals: What a difference a game makes

jpsportstats mlb 2013 mets natsThe New York Mets‘ successful trend, prior to the series against the Washington Nationals, has been duly noted and analyzed by the folks at SNY and WFAN. This season’s turning point for the Metropolitans started with their 4-3 dramatic win versus the Cubs at Citi Field on Sunday, June 16th. Kirk Nieuwenhuis’s 3-run walk-off homer six Sundays ago, helped pull the Mets out of a two-month funk and into a winning clip at or above .600 right up into the All-Star break.

The New York Mets continued to play well as they started the second half with a 7-game home stand, taking two of three from the Phillies and splitting a 4-game series against the division leaders—a greater symbolic accomplishment than the 4-3 record given the Mets were 10 games below .500 at Citi Field before the break.  Then the Metropolitans headed to Washington DC for a 4-game series with another divisional foe. The series started fortuitously for the team from Queens as they thumped Nationals All-Star pitcher, Jordan Zimmerman, in route to a lopsided 11-0 win in game 1 of a day-night doubleheader.

New York had compiled a 22-14 record over their last 36 games, including the first game victory at Nationals Park. Here is a breakdown of the Mets record, run production, and their opponent’s run production before and during their .611 winning stretch.

jpsportstats mlb 2013 mets stats

The nightcap of the doubleheader featured Mets young ace and All-Star, Matt Harvey.  Washington countered with Ross Ohlendorf, who was making his second start of the season.  Ohlendorf had a 20-32 record covering six plus seasons, and a 4.92 career ERA prior to this start.  In addition to a matchup favoring New York, the Nationals were mired in a collective slump having lost 12 of their last 15 games—being outscored 71-41 during that span.

Metropolitans were poised to deliver the 1-2 knockout punch and sweep the doubleheader. In doing so, Mets would have pulled into a virtual tie with the Nationals and would have trailed second place by just a ½ game, if the Phillies were to lose Friday night in Detroit (which they did).

Instead, Ross Ohlendorf matched Matt Harvey’s near flawless performance by delivering seven solid innings, allowing just one run while striking out eight. It was a stark contrast watching Ohlendorf seemingly baffle Mets hitters with a max velocity which never approached 90mph, while Harvey overpowered his opponents with a repertoire of heat in the mid to upper 90’s, mixed in with a curveball in the mid 80’s and an occasional changeup.

Mets hitters failed to capitalize in the 7th and 9th innings with runners on 1st and 3rd; there was only one out in the latter scenario. Ryan Zimmerman, Washington’s version of Chipper Jones, came through in the bottom of the 9th with a walk-off home run giving his team a split in the doubleheader. The 2-1 win did as much to boost Nationals’ much-needed confidence as it did to derail the Mets’ spirited momentum. New York would lose the next two games in DC by the score of 4-1 and 14-1. After outscoring Washington 12-0 in the first 13 innings of the series; the Mets were outscored 20-2 in the next 23 innings.

Had New York won the nightcap of the doubleheader, the outcome of the next two games would likely have been different: not because the Mets are better than the Nats; these teams were heading in different directions. What a difference a game makes.

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