Mets roll past reeling Nationals, 10-5

Slow start plagues offense

team has lost five of six


April 24, 2005|By Dan Connolly | Dan Connolly,SUN STAFF

NEW YORK - After watching his team's listless performance in a 10-5 drubbing by the New York Mets yesterday, Washington Nationals manager Frank Robinson was left with both a mystery and a theory.

He's not sure why his team can't score early on, why every opposing pitcher seemingly dominates his batting order the first half of each game. He's talked to his players, he's tinkered with his lineup and he is still searching for answers.

"Same problems," Robinson said. "Whoever goes out there shuts us down the first five innings."

Yesterday, the Cy Young du jour was Mets right-hander Jae Seo, who had an 8.22 ERA in three Triple-A outings this month. Recalled by the Mets for an emergency start, Seo subsequently blanked the Nationals for five innings.

An altered lineup that included Carlos Baerga and Tony Blanco making their first starts of the season could do nothing to spark Washington.

"It doesn't seem to matter who is out there, we just don't seem to be able to get anything going," Robinson said.

Washington (9-9) eventually scored a run against Seo (1-0) in the sixth, but by that time the Nationals were already trailing 10-0.

They rallied for three runs in the seventh and another in the ninth, the most the Nationals have scored during a recent six-game period in which they've won just once.

While the offense's inability perplexes Robinson, he's fairly clear about another lingering issue that resurfaced during a windy and misty afternoon at Shea Stadium.

Robinson believes his No. 4 starter, Tomo Ohka, is injured, and not telling anyone.

"He says he's all right, he says he is fine, but my instincts tell me better," Robinson said. "I've been around a while and I've seen a lot of things and I'd be willing to ... stake a little bit of my reputation in this game, and it's pretty decent, that he is hurt, believe me."

Ohka (1-3) threw 75 pitches and lasted just three-plus innings yesterday. Battling decreased velocity and spotty command, Ohka allowed six hits, three walks and four runs, pushing his ERA to 5.85. His next turn in the rotation comes on a Nationals off day, so it is possible he'll be skipped at least once.

"I've seen this kid for three years now and even when he wasn't pitching well he didn't come nowhere close to the way he is throwing the ball right now," Robinson said. "No place, no way."

Ohka said after the game that his problems are mechanical, not physical. If he is hurting, he said, "It's not a big deal for me."

He wouldn't specify as to where the "little bit" of pain might be.

Team physician Bruce Thomas examined Ohka after the game and reported no injury to the right-hander.

Despite allowing five base runners in the first three innings, Ohka carried a shutout into the fourth, when the Mets batted around. Rookie Victor Diaz, who had a career-high four hits, doubled to score the first two runs and chase Ohka.

The Mets sent 12 batters to the plate in the fifth, scoring six runs against reliever Joe Horgan and a shaky Nationals defense that included a fielding and a judgment error by Baerga and a slip in the outfield by Blanco.

"This club is not as bad as we looked right now and in the last couple of ballgames, and maybe we're not as good as we looked earlier in the season," Robinson said. "But it's a good ballclub, I know that. We're going to be all right.

"What we can't do is panic right now."

NOTES: Outfielder Jose Guillen left the game with a slight groin pull. He is listed as day-to-day ... Nick Johnson extended his hitting streak to 13 games.

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