Can't ask for a better bottom of the ninth scenario (considering the circumstances...the best-case scenario would be not loading the bases with just one out in the bottom of the ninth):
A not-very-deep fly ball to your best outfield arm.
But the ball turned out to not be deep enough for Willie Harris to score on Jeff Francoeur's throw, and though the Mets held a 1-0 lead for the majority of the game, the Nationals pulled out a 2-1 win.
I guess there's no better time than this to take Pedro Feliciano to task.
I actually don't have much of a problem with Feliciano. (That was kind of a grabber there - I wanted you to click through. Did it work? Stay with me...) My problem is with how he's being used.
Feliciano's in a tough spot. For years he's been a left-handed specialist - called in to get the likes of Ryan Howard out, lefty on lefty.
This year, he was pitching well, so Jerry Manuel turned him into THE guy out of the bullpen. (A move Feliciano was enthusiastic about, incidentally.) Suddenly he's expected to pitch full innings, throw a lot of pitches, and face a lot of batters?
I feel like Thursday night was an indication of what's to come if that's what the Mets continue to expect of him.
Feliciano was great getting the Mets out of the eighth inning Thursday night - he got two groundouts after Elmer Dessens put two men on with one out.
But he started the ninth, and got just one out before three straight Nationals reached base. Ryota Igarashi gave up the game-winning sacrifice fly.
It's a situation that is microcosmic of Feliciano - even though this loss drops him to 2-4 with a 2.20 ERA on the year, he's still having a good year. But I feel like the more he gets stretched out over the course of the season, a la Thursday night's 9th inning, the less effective he'll be.
Hopefully Jerry Manuel realizes that - because if the Mets are lucky enough to be playing in October, they should not rely on Feliciano the way they've been relying on him up to now....if he hasn't proven ineffective by that point.
Unfortunately, what shouldn't be lost in the loss is how well Johan Santana pitched. He gave up just one run in the seventh inning, pitching seven innings, striking out seven while walking just two. The Mets' offense couldn't get anything going to support him (Jose Reyes missed a second straight game), but the outing was encouraging.
In the bigger picture, it's also unfortunate that the Mets couldn't get a second straight win on the road. Now it's salvage time - just get a couple of wins and split this Washington series, and do some damage with the six home games leading up to the All Star break.