I was always raised to never blame a loss on the officials, and while the umpires weren’t the reason the Nationals lost, they certainly didn’t help.
In the top of the second inning David Wright reached second base on a pop-up just outside the infield that Cristian Guzman didn’t bother to make a play on. Left fielder Adam Dunn lumbered in to try and make a play but was not able to charge nearly 200 feet in to catch the blooper.
The next play, right fielder Elijah Dukes fielded a fly ball near the wall in right and fired a perfect strike to third baseman Ryan Zimmerman to catch a tagging David Wright from second.
Not so fast.
Despite the throw beating the runner, and despite the tag clearly being displayed, the second base umpire Derryl Cousins called Wright safe. The next batter grounded out, scoring Wright and gave the Mets their only run until extra innings.
The Nationals tied the game in 5th after a Josh Bard double and an Alex Gonzalez single.
The game remained tied through nine and went to extra innings until Joel Hanrahan could do what Joel Hanrahan does best, blow the game. In the top of the 10th the closer allowed a double to Wright, scoring both Luis Castillo and Carlos Beltran. Hanrahan’s performance put an end to what was easily the best bullpen performance of the Nationals all year as they pitched four scoreless innings in a meaningful game.
The Mets won 3-1.
I was watching the game with my father, a former graduate of a professional umpire academy, and he agreed as a manager that sometimes you have to hold umpires accountable for their calls.
What Umpire will respect Manny Acta if he never defends his team when they are blatantly screwed on calls?
A manager sometimes needs to be ejected to make a point. Acta should have made it clear to the umpire it was the wrong call and he wasn’t about to stand by and stay in a game with such poor officiating. Simply put, he shouldn’t have stood for it.
But no, the umpires know they can get away with bad calls against the Nationals, because the only one who sticks up for what’s right is not our manager but Adam Dunn. It was Dunn who argued when Randy Johnson got a called strike three on him below his knees, and Dunn who argued on the homerun call that was reversed at Citi Field. Both times Acta remained mute.
How are players supposed to play for a manager who doesn’t protect them on the field?
Acta went out and politely asked about the call Friday night, but he should have raised hell.
The Nationals however had their own opportunities they failed to capitalize on. Ryan Zimmerman grounded into a double play with the bases loaded in the 5th inning, and Duke grounded out with two runners on in the bottom of the 8th.
The blatant truth however is, if Wright had been called out at third, the Nats would have won.