NEW YORK — Met-killer Bryce Harper hit a 116.3-mph rocket home run off Mets starter Robert Gsellman in the first inning Thursday night at Citi Field.
That shot had repercussions alright. Nationals manager Dusty Baker compared it to a Hank Aaron shot. Harper said it was the hardest ball he hit in his life. It put the Nationals ahead early in the game, and the Mets had to play catch up once again against a team that specializes in tormenting them the way the Braves used to do during their heyday in the 90s.
Harper’s blast set the tone in the Nationals’ 8-3 victory against the Mets to start off the four-game weekend series. It did not get any better for the Metropolitans Friday night.
Here’s the ugly truth: After the Nationals’ 7-2 victory over the Mets Friday night, it was their sixth victory against them, and they are five-for-five so far in their five meetings against them at Citi Field this year. Overall, they are 18-9 against the Amazins in the last two years after they lost the division to their upstart opponent two years ago by going 11-8. So much for changing of the guard in the NL East.
This is no different than when the upstart Nationals were beating the rebuilding Mets several years ago. It’s hard to call this a rivalry when it’s the same result after same result. Watching the Mets lose to the best team in the NL East is like watching Wile E. Coyote not capturing the Road Runner.
The Mets boasted a good starting rotation to stop the Nationals, but that hasn’t happened. Harper and Daniel Murphy continue to hit home runs after home runs against the Mets starters, especially when they play at Citi Field. All the Mets fans can do is shrug with a hopeless feeling.
The Nats seem to enjoy beating the Mets the way Braves used to do it in the late 90s. They were fired up after the Mets acted cocky two summers ago against them. Now, they treat the Mets like this is their World Series.
It doesn’t seem they have to try hard to beat the Amazins anymore. All they have to do is show up and the Mets would be intimidated by their presence whether it’s at Citi Field or Nationals Park.
What’s disturbing is the Mets never do well against the Nationals at Citi Field. The Mets do well at their home ballpark because they feed off the fans’ energy and the pitchers flourish in the cavernous ballpark. But the Nationals, especially Harper, love to hit well at a stadium that psyche hitters out. It’s hard to figure how they do that other than they are familiar about hitting at that stadium.
The Mets starters have no answers. If they do, the balls would not be flying over the fence every time they face the Nationals. Even their best pitch is not good enough.
The Nationals homered five times in the first two games of the weekend series, and overall, they hit 16 home runs against the Mets in their eight meetings against them this season. To think they have 11 more games against them to pad up their home run total.
There’s nothing the Mets can do about it. Even when they were healthy, it wasn’t like they were scaring the Nationals.
It’s frustrating. It becomes boring after awhile. Mets fans are tired of watching the same old scene time after time to the point they say “Game Over!” in the second inning. The Nationals don’t respect the Mets. Why would they when they know how to dominate the Mets?
Here’s the cold ugly truth: The Mets do not have the personnel to beat the Nationals. Stats don’t lie and the Mets fans are not deceived to what’s going on. Baseball is predicated by pitching, and the Mets pitchers don’t scare the Nationals whatsoever.
Deep down, the Mets know that. It’s hard to think this is changing anytime soon.
All Mets manager Terry Collins can encourage his players to do is keep trying and never give up. What else can he say publicly? They have to try since it’s part of being a paid professional.
The Mets have two more games left in this weekend series, and it wouldn’t be surprising if they get swept.
If the Mets season comes to an end soon, look back to this weekend where everything fell apart. Injuries featuring Neil Walker (partially torn left hamstring), Matt Harvey (stress injury to his right scapula and a bruised ego) and Juan Lagares (fractured joint in his left thumb) on Thursday and losses to the Nationals will finally have to take its toll.
The Mets can only take so much beating by the Nationals and injuries this season.