The Washington Times - April 24, 2009, 08:11PM

This Nats-Mets game so far has felt like a championship fight—you just get the feeling New York is jabbing away for now, waiting to land the knockout punch later. The Mets lead 1-0 after three, but it could have been more.

First, Johan Santana is absolutely dealing. He’s thrown 49 pitches through three innings, 35 of them strikes, and the only reason his pitch count is so high is because he’s already struck out seven. As he does on his best nights, Santana looks two or three steps ahead of hitters—he’s locating his fastball, his changeup is still one of the five deadliest pitches in baseball, and he’s had a decent slider, too. The Nats’ best chance is to run up his pitch count and get him out of the game.

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Scott Olsen hasn’t been bad—he’s pitched out of jams in each of the first three innings and has three strikeouts partially because of a good slider. But you get the feeling the Mets’ hitting with men in scoring position, as bad as it’s been early, will turn. They’ve had five hits, and scored their first run in the third when Carlos Beltran hit a sinking liner to center. Elijah Dukes hesitated, then charged the ball. He was a step late, though, and the ball skipped under his glove for a single and a two-base error that allowed Luis Castillo to score from first. Give Olsen credit for stranding Beltran at third, but the Nats could still have their work cut out for them tonight.