April 24, 2009: Fourteen Strikeouts Put Away Nats

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Date: April 24, 2009
Mets starter: Johan Santana
Mets: 4
Nationals: 3
Winning pitcher: Johan Santana
Key player(s): Johan Santana, Carlos Beltran, Daniel Murphy
Key play: Beltran’s triple, Murphy’s single

The Mets faced the Nationals on a Friday night at Citi Field. The teams played the opener of a three-game series. Led by Johan Santana, Mets’ pitchers compiled a total of fourteen strikeouts in a 4-3 win over Washington.

Santana struck out the side in order in the top of the first inning. Nats’ starter Scott Olsen pitched a scoreless bottom half and Adam Dunn singled to lead off the top of the second. Santana fanned the next three Washington batters and Gary Sheffield got a one-out single in the bottom of the inning. Fernando Tatis doubled and Ramon Castro was walked intentionally to load the bases. Santana followed with a ground ball on which first baseman Nick Johnson threw to catcher Jesus Flores for an out at home on Sheffield. Olsen then got Jose Reyes to pop out to Johnson and end the inning.

Santana threw a called third strike past Olsen during a perfect top of the third. Luis Castillo singled to begin the bottom half. Carlos Beltran hit a triple to drive home Castillo for a 1-0 Mets lead. Olsen set down the next three hitters to close out the inning and Santana recorded a strikeout of Elijah Dukes to finish off a scoreless top of the fourth. Tatis drew a walk to open the bottom half. Castro was retired on a line drive to center fielder Dukes. Santana reached on Olsen’s error of a sacrifice bunt and Reyes popped out to second baseman Anderson Hernandez. Castillo singled to drive home Tatis with the Mets’ second run of the game. On the play, Santana got caught between bases and was tagged by Hernandez for the inning’s third out.

Santana shut down the Nationals in the top of the fifth. Olsen gave up only a double to David Wright in the bottom of the inning. Leading off the top of the sixth, Johnson hit a home run to reduce the Mets’ lead to 2-1. Ryan Zimmerman drew a walk and Dunn singled to center field. Santana fanned both Dukes and Austin Kearns before retiring Flores on an inning-ending pop-up to third baseman Wright. Tatis hit a leadoff triple in the bottom half. Castro flied out to Dukes and a single by pinch-hitter Daniel Murphy brought home Tatis with the third New York run. Olsen then got Reyes to hit a grounder to shortstop Alberto Gonzalez for a double play that closed out the inning.

Gonzalez singled against Mets’ reliever Bobby Parnell to begin the top of the seventh. A wild pitch advanced Gonzalez to second base and Parnell struck out both pinch-hitter Josh Willingham and Hernandez. Johnson grounded back to New York’s Pedro Feliciano for the third out of the inning and the Mets loaded the bases with two outs against Washington’s Jason Bergmann in the bottom half. Nats’ reliever Kip Wells then got Tatis on a force play grounder to Gonzalez to end the inning.

Mets’ reliever J. J. Putz recorded a strikeout of Zimmerman to start a perfect top of the eighth. Castro and Ryan Church got back-to-back singles to begin the bottom half. Reyes and Castillo were retired on infield ground balls and Beltran was walked intentionally to load the bases. Carlos Delgado walked to force home Castro and extend the Mets’ lead to 4-1. Wells then retired Wright on a grounder to third baseman Zimmerman for the inning’s final out.

Kearns singled against Mets’ reliever Francisco Rodriguez to open the top of the ninth. Flores slugged a two-run homer and Gonzalez lined out to center fielder Beltran. Rodriguez fanned pinch-hitter Alex Cintron for the Mets’ fourteenth strikeout. Francisco then retired Hernandez on a fly ball to Beltran to bring the game to an end. The Mets had a series-opening victory on solid pitching.