After leading by five runs as late as the sixth inning, the Washington Nationals were unable to secure their lead, falling to the New York Mets by the final score of 8-6.Despite yet another effective start from Scott Olsen, who allowed just two runs on nine hits in 5.1 innings, the team could not hold on for the win. The bullpen - which has been a strength for much of this season - collapsed down the stretch, coughing up six runs in the bottom of the eighth. Brian Bruney surrendered three runs (two of which were earned) without recording an out, in part because of an Ian Desmond throwing error.
Perhaps most surprising was the performance of Tyler Clippard. The young right-hander has been superb so far, racing out to a 6-0 record and a 0.76 ERA entering last night's game. The Mets offense uncovered the first chink in his armor, roughing him up for three runs on four hits in just 0.1 innings.
The Nationals' pitchers were unable to capitalize on a strong offensive performance. Adam Dunn hit a three-run homer in the top of the first, Ivan Rodriguez drove in two runs, and Willy Taveras and Cristian Guzman both recorded multi-hit games, with the latter walking twice as well. Unfortunately, six runs was not enough last night as the Mets scored that many in the eighth alone.
The loss leaves the Nationals at 18-15. While the manner in which it occurred was quite painful and disconcerting, the club would do well to remember that this is just one game of 162. Though the outcome seemed all but assured entering the eighth inning, rallies do happen and apparent wins can easily become losses. The important thing is that the Nationals look forward rather than backward. In years past the team could easily implode after a performance like the last night, so I believe that the next game will be a valuable measuring stick of this year's edition of the Nationals. Although losses do happen and another one tonight should be taken equally with a grain of salt, the Nats need to be competitive tomorrow to show that this is a new, resilient ballclub.