Nationals 6, Mets 2
NEW YORK (AP)—Just about the only person who thought Orlando Hernandez was throwing at the opposing pitcher was plate umpire Mike Winters.
He’s the only one who matters, though.
Hernandez gave up three home runs before he was ejected for a beanball, and the Washington Nationals got an impressive pitching performance from Shawn Hill in a 6-2 victory Saturday over the New York Mets.
“Knowing Orlando, I don’t think he would try to hit someone—especially the pitcher,” Nationals rookie manager Manny Acta said. “There’s no animosity between these two teams. (Jose) Guillen is gone and Pedro (Martinez) is on the DL.”
After Snelling’s two-run shot made it 6-1 in the sixth, El Duque’s next delivery ran up and in and hit Hill on the knuckles of his pitching hand. Winters quickly ejected an incredulous Hernandez, who argued vehemently.
“He was getting hit pretty hard. He just gave up a home run,” Winters said. “The first pitch right after the home run was right at the hitter. If it didn’t hit him in the hand, it would have hit him in the chest.”
Randolph, however, thought Winters overreacted. The umpire said he considered issuing a warning, but decided against it.
“It went through my mind, but given the situation, the ejection was appropriate,” Winters said.
Once El Duque retreated to the bench, he climbed to the top step of the dugout and spoke calmly to Hill, who was standing on first base. Shaking his head and gesturing with his hands, Hernandez (1-1) explained that he had no intention of plunking Hill and he couldn’t understand why he was tossed.
“I said, `I’m sorry,”’ Hernandez reiterated. “About the home run? It’s part of the game.”
And Hill was certainly satisfied.
“He’s not that kind of guy,” Hill said. “If he wanted to hit me, he could have put one right in my ribs.”
Shawn Green’s RBI double in the sixth cut it to 6-2, and the Mets tried to mount a rally in the eighth. They put their first two batters on before Church caught David Wright’s drive at the top of the center-field fence. Jon Rauch then got Green to ground into an inning-ending double play.
“To stop their momentum was huge for us,” Rauch said.
Snelling drove in three runs from the No. 8 spot in the lineup and Brian Schneider snapped out of a 1-for-18 skid with three hits. He entered batting .125.
Hill (1-2) earned his third major league win—his first since beating Philadelphia 6-0 on June 11 last year. The right-hander didn’t pitch in the big leagues after June 28 last season because of a sore elbow.
Hill allowed two runs and eight hits in seven innings, matching the longest outing of his career. He walked one and set a career high with five strikeouts.
“I have a lot of confidence in this kid and I think he’s going to give us a chance every five days,” said Acta, who was Randolph’s third-base coach with New York for two years before the Nationals hired him during the offseason.
Randolph won their first matchup Friday night.
The Nationals scored twice in the second inning for the second consecutive game. Before that, they became the first major league team from 1900 on not to score in the first three innings of any of their first 10 games, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
Young homered leading off the second. Church doubled later in the inning and scored on Snelling’s RBI groundout.
Jose Valentin’s RBI double in the bottom half made it 2-1. Endy Chavez tripled to start the third but was stranded when Hill struck out Carlos Beltran and then got Carlos Delgado and Wright on slow rollers back to the mound.
“That was a key for us,” Schneider said.
Washington added a run in the fourth on Felipe Lopez’s slow RBI groundout to third. Instead of trying to throw across the diamond, Wright chose to chase down Snelling in the basepath for the final out of the inning. But first, Schneider crossed the plate to make it 3-1.
“I just didn’t think I had a play at first, so I went for the out,” Wright said. “I was very cognizant that the run would score.”