- The Washington Times - Friday, April 7, 2006

NEW YORK — A little emotion is never a bad thing, and the Washington Nationals were playing with plenty of it last night at Shea Stadium.

Of course, emotion can take a team only so far. It also helps to have a little pitching, and that’s something the Nationals didn’t have nearly enough of in a 10-5 loss to the New York Mets.

A game that featured a combined five players getting hit by pitches, one bench-clearing incident and the ejections of manager Frank Robinson and pitcher Felix Rodriguez also saw five Washington pitchers give up a combined 10 runs, 15 hits and two titanic home runs before a crowd of 25,839.

“We had our emotions in control,” Robinson said. “We just made a couple of a bad pitches, really. We didn’t make good pitches in this series, and they hit them, especially tonight.”

Put it all together and a frustrated Nationals club left town with a 1-2 record, a four-game weekend series in Houston on the horizon and a couple of really ticked off people not looking forward to a long late-night flight.

Some of that frustration stemmed from a less-than-sparkling pitching performance from Ramon Ortiz (six runs, 10 hits in his five-inning Nationals debut) and Joey Eischen (three runs, three walks in 1-1/3 innings of relief).

Most of it, though, stemmed from a beanball battle that seemed to favor the Mets. Over the final two games of this season-opening series, six Washington players were hit by pitches. Right fielder Jose Guillen alone was hit three times.

Meanwhile, only one New York batter (catcher Paul Lo Duca in the eighth last night) was plunked, though that one led to the automatic ejections of both Robinson and Rodriguez because umpires had warned both benches three innings earlier after Guillen incited a bench-clearing incident upon getting hit by Pedro Martinez.

Of course, Mets reliever Duaner Sanchez also hit Nick Johnson on a 1-2 pitch in the seventh inning — after the warning had already been issued — and got off scot free.

“Five [hit batters] to one at the time, and Nick gets hit after the warning. Nothing was said,” Robinson said. “But our guy gets rung, I get rung, because he felt like that was the appropriate time for us to retaliate. You’ve got to be kidding me.”

Crew chief Rick Reed said Sanchez was not ejected because he did not believe there was intent to hit Johnson. That wasn’t the case when Rodriguez plunked Lo Duca.

“We see a lot of pitches,” Reed told a pool reporter. “We don’t feel that anybody was intentionally hit all night except for Paul Lo Duca in the end.”

The Guillen-Martinez duel was the centerpiece of last night’s game, though it had been building long before this season opened.

The checkered history between Guillen (who was hit 19 times in 2005, tied for most in the NL) and Martinez has been well-documented. When the Mets ace plunked Guillen at RFK Stadium in July, it prompted the Nationals right fielder to get into a heated dugout argument with teammates Brian Schneider and Esteban Loaiza for their failure to retaliate immediately.

Anyone who knew that history had to have a hunch something might crop up during last night’s game. Sure enough, when Martinez hit Guillen in the left hip in the third inning, the stage was set.

Story Continues →