Sloppy defense overshadows Jordan's debut
Two unearned runs charged to prospect as errors prove costly to Nats
NEW YORK -- Right-hander Taylor Jordan made his Major League debut and pitched well, but shoddy defense by third baseman Ryan Zimmerman and shortstop Ian Desmond helped the Mets defeat the Nationals, 5-1, at Citi Field on Saturday afternoon.
Jordan, the 17th-ranked prospect in Washington's system by MLB.com, lasted 4 1/3 innings, allowed three runs (one earned) on five hits and struck out one batter. Because it was Jordan's first start, manager Davey Johnson wasn't going to let him let him reach the 90-pitch mark.
"He got a lot of ground balls. He threw some good changeups, sliders. I like what I saw. It was a good outing," Johnson said. "He has a good sinking fastball."
Jordan, however, felt he had a tough time commanding his fastball.
"I wasn't as nervous as I thought I was going to be," Jordan said. "I wish I threw more strikes. I just felt during the whole game, I didn't really have my fastball. Maybe in the first inning, I didn't have it a little bit more."
Although he took the loss, Jordan was given three game balls: His first base hit in the fifth inning, his first strikeout against counterpart Dillon Gee and the first pitch he threw in a big league game.
Jordan was given a 1-0 lead in the top of the fourth inning against Gee. With two outs, Roger Bernadina doubled off the right-field wall before Kurt Suzuki drove him in with a single to right field.
But Gee settled down, pitched six innings and allowed the one run. Gee is not having a productive season, but against the Nationals, the right-hander has allowed two runs in 18 2/3 innings.
"Tip your hat to Gee. He pitched a good ballgame. That's just baseball," Johnson said. "He made good pitches. He is an aggressive pitcher, he comes right at you. He changes speeds, uses all his pitches. We were just a little bit flat. But it's just another day."
But Washington's defense made Jordan the losing pitcher. In the fourth inning, Marlon Bryd led off and hit a grounder to Zimmerman, who booted the ball for his team-leading 12th error of the season.
After Josh Satin walked and Kirk Nieuwenhuis reached base on a fielder's choice to put runners on first and third, John Buck singled to left field, scoring Byrd and tying the game at 1.
Washington's defense would falter again an inning later. After Daniel Murphy singled and reached second on a groundout by David Wright, Byrd came to the plate and hit a routine grounder to Zimmerman at third base, but Zimmerman booted the ball. Desmond then grabbed the ball and tried to throw out Murphy at third, but the ball hit Murphy and scooted past Zimmerman. That allowed Murphy to score the go-ahead run.
"That one didn't work out. If it doesn't hit his body, the ball just sits there and nothing happens. Unfortunately, the ball hit his leg and rolled away," Desmond said. "Given the opportunity again, I would try it again. There is a chance to get an out there, I want to help the kid [Jordan] out."
The Nationals have made a National League-leading 59 errors this season. Last year, Washington was one of the best defensive teams in the league.
"You need some breaks once in a while," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "They made a couple errors. I've been in the league for three years now and I've never seen Ryan Zimmerman ever boot a ground ball. So we took advantage of those today and scored a couple runs, and made it hold up."
Zimmerman didn't have any excuses for making the errors, but he felt bad that Jordan had to take the loss because of his mistakes.
"The first one kind of stayed down. [Byrd] hit that ball well. The second one hopped up. Those are plays I should actually make, " Zimmerman said. "But I feel bad for Taylor. He threw the ball well, he pitched great. Those two [errors] obviously affected the outcome, for him at least. It was good to see him come up here. He really didn't look like he was nervous at all. It was a tough break for him."
For most of the season, the offense has been blamed for the Nationals' disappointing season thus far. But the defense has been struggling as well.
"We just haven't been making plays. We've making some silly throws that obviously leads to errors and things like that," Zimmerman said.
After Satin singled, Johnson took Jordan out of the game in favor of Craig Stammen, who was shaky. Nieuwenhuis was the first hitter Stammen faced and hit a sacrifice fly, scoring Byrd.
The Mets scored two more runs off Stammen in the sixth inning. Eric Young Jr. had a sacrifice fly, while Byrd picked up an RBI single.
With the loss, the Nationals are back at the .500 mark with a 40-40 mark. Last year, the Nationals were 48-32 after 80 games.