Mets 13, Nationals 4
WASHINGTON (AP)—The heart of the New York Mets’ lineup made it perfectly clear Thursday it’s possible to hit the ball over the wall at RFK Stadium. Over and over again, to all parts of the park.
Carlos Beltran, David Wright and Cliff Floyd homered in the first inning, and Carlos Delgado later tacked on a two-run shot, all off All-Star Livan Hernandez, starting the Mets on their way to a 13-4 win over the Nationals.
“We always felt that our lineup was great,” said Floyd, who hit his first homer of 2006. “You don’t have a relief point, from a pitching standpoint. You get into a little trouble, it becomes a problem for you real quick, and that’s what we try to do.”
Thanks in part to that strong offense, the Mets have won six consecutive games.
Washington, meanwhile, has lost five in a row, outscored 35-13 in that span. After Wednesday’s defeat, veteran Jose Vidro renewed a complaint heard often from the Nationals in the second half of 2005: RFK’s dimensions are too big, and that’s hurting the home team.
Nationals manager Frank Robinson said Thursday he hopes his players aren’t letting those sorts of thoughts affect them at the plate.
“If we’re going to start complaining about the size of this ballpark and whatever now,” Robinson said, “we might as well pack in and go home, because if we don’t, they’re going to be putting us in a little white jacket and carrying us out of here.”
Even Vidro had to chuckle when asked about the irony of the Mets’ barrage less than 24 hours after his comments.
“They did score a lot of runs,” Vidro said. “Why can’t we do that in the same ballpark?”
For one thing, the Nationals’ lineup isn’t as stacked as the Mets’ is. New York’s 4-5-6 hitters, Delgado, Wright and Floyd, went a combined 7-for-9 with six RBIs against Hernandez.
“It seems like every other at-bat, we’re getting RBI opportunities, runners in scoring position,” said Wright, who’s hit safely in every game this season and has 12 RBIs. “You know, with the protection that we give each other throughout our lineup, you’re going to see some pitches to hit.”
The Mets went to work on Hernandez (1-2) right away. With two outs in the first, Beltran drove a 2-1 pitch to right. Outfielder Jose Guillen stood still with hands on hips, watching the ball’s flight; when it bounced off the facing of the upper deck and back onto the field, Guillen chucked it into the top level’s red seats.
After Delgado singled, Wright homered to left on a 3-0 pitch, and Hernandez hung his head. Floyd followed with a solo shot to right-center.
That’s how the game’s first seven minutes went: homers to right, left and center, 4-0 Mets. It’s the first time Hernandez has allowed three homers in an inning during a decade in the majors, and when Delgado made it 6-0 with his third of the year, the burly pitcher had given up four deep balls in a game for the first time since April 7, 2001.
“Everything I throw, they hit it,” Hernandez said. “Every time you make a mistake, the hitter’s going to pay you back. I made a lot of mistakes today.”
All told, he allowed eight runs—seven earned—on 11 hits over six innings. His ERA rose to 7.00. The Mets finished with 16 hits, adding five runs when they sent 10 men to the plate in the seventh against reliever Joey Eischen.
New York’s Victor Zambrano (1-0) allowed three runs in five innings in his first start of the season.
“He was able to keep us in it,” Mets manager Willie Randolph said.
That’s not much to ask these days against a Washington lineup in such a rut the team is trying to shake things up 10 games—and two wins—into the season.
Alfonso Soriano moved into the leadoff spot Thursday, going 1-for-5. After the game, outfielder Brandon Watson and backup catcher Wiki Gonzalez were sent to the minors, and outfielder Ryan Church and infielder Brendan Harris were called up.
“This ballclub is showing signs of not going anywhere,” Robinson said. “So we’re not going to sit still here and see us go in the hole without trying to do something.”
The Mets hit three homers in an inning for the first time since April 19, 2005, at Philadelphia. … The attendance for the afternoon game was 25,465, giving the Nationals an average of 31,993 at 45,250-seat RFK for their first three home games.