You know all those “little things” that the Nationals were doing wrong just about every night through the season’s first six weeks? Well, it’s amazing what a difference it makes when they actually do them right for a change.
Two “little things” in particular paid off tonight and put the Nats ahead of the Mets, 1-0, early.
Little Thing No. 1: With two outs and a man on second in the bottom of the first inning, New York’s Gary Sheffield hit a sharp single to right field. Third base coach Razor Shines — a brief pause here to point out what a great name that is — waved Carlos Beltran around. It wasn’t a terrible decision by Shines, because Beltran runs well, and early in the game you want to put pressure on the defense to make a play. Well, Austin Kearns made the play. He fired an absolute bullet to the plate, hitting Wil Nieves on the fly and giving the catcher plenty of time to plant his feet and apply the tag to end the inning.
Little Thing No. 2: With two outs and a runner on third in the second inning, Nieves didn’t try to do too much. Just as we’ve seen in the past when the backup catcher has been successful, he tried to hit the ball to right field. And he did, hitting a sharp grounder past a diving Luis Castillo to score Willie Harris and put Washington up 1-0.
Unfortunately, the Nats gave that run back in the bottom of the third because John Lannan couldn’t do a little thing right: He let a rally get started because of a two-out walk to Angel Pagan. It was a little thing that turned into a big thing, because Jose Castillo and Carlos Beltran each followed with singles to bring Pagan around with the tying run.
So after three, we’re tied 1-1.