Matt Harvey, part of the organization’s quartet of highly regarded pitching prospects, was rocked for three homers and five runs in an inning. Jason Bay left the game with a bruised right forearm. And the Washington Nationals snapped an 11-game Grapefruit League winless streak with a 12-0 win against the Mets on Sunday afternoon at Space Coast Stadium.
Nationals ace Stephen Strasburg tossed five scoreless innings, limiting the Mets to five hits, a walk and the drilling of Bay with a fastball while striking out five. The Mets did load the bases against Strasburg in the third inning, but Ike Davis grounded into an inning-ending double play.
“He’s got a great arm,” Terry Collins said. “It’s quite obvious. A live arm. Today, when the game got out of control, I’ll bet he was just out getting his work done. When you pitch at 96 mph, and can hit 99 or 100, that’s pretty good stuff. He’s got a good breaking ball. That’s the best changeup Ike said he’s seen off of him.”
Ruben Tejada went 2-for-3 with a double in the loss, while Frank Francisco and Bobby Parnell each tossed scoreless innings while working for the second straight day. Parnell, who allowed a hit and walk before retiring Jayson Werth on an inning-ending flyout in the sixth, struck out two and ran his scoreless streak in Grapefruit League play to 7 1/3 innings.
“Bobby’s throwing the ball very, very well,” Collins said.
Parnell, despite a minor league option remaining, clearly has pitched his way into the major league bullpen, with Collins quipping: “Hell, he may be the last man standing the way they’re dropping.”
Collins was referring to D.J. Carrasco and Pedro Beato both likely to start the season on the major league disabled list. Carrasco has an ankle injury. Beato, who has a shoulder issue, threw a 25-pitch bullpen session Thursday, but has not returned to a mound. He likely was ticketed for Triple-A Buffalo to open the season, but now probably picks up service time and major league pay.
“He said it was stiff still,” Collins said.
The Mets trailed 10-0 after three innings, thanks in part to some foibles in the field.
Former San Diego Padres reliever Justin Hampson, borrowed from minor league camp, looked like he had a bases-loaded strikeout of Washington’s Steve Lombardozzi to end the second inning, but his wild pitch squirted away from catcher Lucas May. May’s ensuing, wild throw to first base eluded Davis and two runs scored, making it 8-0. An inning later, Davis could not flip a would-be inning-ending grounder to first base because Hampson had not reached the bag, allowing another run to score.
The Nats capped the scoring with single runs against Manny Acosta and Daniel Herrera, the latter on a homer by lefty-hitting Chad Tracy.
Harvey allowed homers to Ian Desmond, Werth and Roger Bernadina in his lone inning, and Collins said the highly regarded prospect is closer to the majors than this performance might suggest.
Werth was told his mammoth shot to left field actually hit the outfielder’s own pickup truck in the parking lot, but he was unsure immediately after the game whether that was true.
"I think the word I used was 'folklore,'" Werth said. "I've got to go out there and check it out. If it is dented or smashed or cracked, shattered, I kind of foresee it staying that way for a while. I think they're just messing with me. Who knows? We'll see. I'll keep you posted."
As for Harvey’s struggles, Collins said: “I’m sure he was all jacked up against Strasburg and a lot of things. If he gets something out of it, it means that you just can’t rear back and throw. You’ve got to make pitches. He left a lot of balls up today. Hopefully, next time we see him, it will be a lot better. … He’s better than that outing. It’s obvious. But you’ve got to adjust. You’ve got to work through it. And you’ve got to mix up stuff to get outs. So hopefully it’s a learning experience for him.
“He’s a better pitcher than what he showed today. He’s closer to the major leagues than what he showed today. Just a crappy day. I’ve seen a lot of good pitchers have these kind of days.”
At least it appears the Mets may have dodged a serious bullet with Bay, who believes he avoided any broken bones.
“I thought he was hurt,” Collins said. “I thought he was hurt bad. When I went out, he couldn’t move his hand.”
Collins said he was relieved when Bay finally indicated where the direct contact was made -- on the fleshy part of the right forearm.
“It’ll leave a mark,” Collins said. “When it’s 97 mph, it leaves a mark.”
• Collins reported improvement with Andres Torres’ strained left calf back in Port St. Lucie, although that’s relative.
“Actually, it was a lot better today. A lot better today,” Collins said. “I’m anxious to get back and see how he did with his therapy today because there’s a possibility he may be coming faster than you think.”
That doesn’t mean imminent baseball activity, though.
“Well, he’s got to start running first,” Collins said. “That will be the next step, if he gets through the next couple of days.”
• Jordany Valdespin made his first start in center field and had an uneventful afternoon. Matt den Dekker is scheduled to start at the position Monday, but Valdespin still will get more spring-training exposure there.
“The balls he’s had to make a play on, he’s gone and caught them,” Collins said. “He’s a good-enough athlete. He ought to be able to play out there if need be.”
• Johan Santana is scheduled to up his pitch count to 90-95 pitches Monday, when he makes a second straight Grapefruit League start against the St. Louis Cardinals in Jupiter.
• Adam Loewen went 1-for-3 with a walk and two strikeouts. He has fanned in 20 of his 37 Grapefruit League at-bats. That statistic alone suggests Mike Baxter will beat out Loewen as the lefty-hitting backup outfielder.