WASHINGTON -- Poised to take over sole possession of first place in the National League East this late in a season for the first time since 2008, the Mets failed to hold a lead three times from the eighth inning onward and ultimately lost to Washington, 7-6, in 12 innings at Nationals Park on Tuesday night. Omar Quintanilla and Jordany Valdespin combined for three errors at shortstop and Daniel Murphy and Ike Davis each flubbed balls and had to settle for an out on chances that might otherwise have been double-play grounders.
Wednesday's news reports:
• Jason Bay (fractured rib) is expected to rejoin the Mets on Wednesday after manning left field for Class A St. Lucie in the third game of a rehab assignment last night. Ruben Tejada, though, had to depart after two innings from a rehab game with Triple-A Buffalo because of an issue with his balky right quadriceps. Originally slated to return Friday, that timetable is out the window. Tejada will be withdrawn from the rehab assignment and return to the Mets' complex in Port St. Lucie, Fla., Terry Collins said. The Mets did not officially announce Bay's return after Tuesday's game, nor did they offer a corresponding move. Josh Satin, who joined the team Sunday when Mike Baxter went on the disabled list, would figure to be the logical roster casualty.
• The positive in Tuesday's debacle: Like Johan Santana before him, Chris Young established he can capably contribute in the majors after undergoing surgery to repair a torn anterior capsule in the pitching shoulder. Young allowed three runs (two earned) while logging 75 pitches in five innings. He expressed satisfaction afterward with the outing. It was his first major league action since May 1, 2011. Read more in Newsday.
• Santana threw off a mound for the first time since Friday's 134-pitch no-hitter. He reported feeling fine after Tuesday's between-starts bullpen session at Nationals Park, which sets him up for a Subway Series-opening start in the Bronx. “I threw my bullpen, just another one, nothing different, and I felt good and we’ll be ready for Friday,” Santana told reporters. Read more in the Daily News and Newsday.
• The Mets played with a short bullpen Tuesday. That in part was because Jeremy Hefner was being held out to start Wednesday's game -- which allows Santana to pitch on two days of extra rest, without R.A. Dickey's schedule being disrupted. But there was a second, more concerning reason for the Mets' lack of available bullpen arms: Collins said Jon Rauch will remain in New York while the Mets face the Nats in D.C. Examined by Mets doctors, Rauch was found to have "debris" in his pitching elbow. Collins said doctors believe the issue will calm with a few days of inactivity. The manager predicted Rauch would be available by Friday in the Bronx. Read more in the Post and Star-Ledger.
• Nineteen-year-old phenom Bryce Harper delivered the game-winning hit with the bases loaded in the 12th against rookie Elvin Ramirez. Frank Francisco and Bobby Parnell were charged with blown saves -- Parnell's more of the hard-luck variety because of sloppy fielding -- as the Mets previously failed to hold leads in the eighth and 10th innings as well. Scott Hairston, off the bench, had scored the go-ahead run in the late innings three times, on Andres Torres' double in the eighth, on a wild pitch in the 10th, and then a solo homer in the 12th. Read game recaps in the Post, Star-Ledger, Record, Daily News, Times and Newsday.
• Collins said postgame there are no external shortstop additions looming for the Mets, so they will have to make due with Quintanilla as the starter and Valdespin as the backup until Ronny Cedeno (calf), and now presumably later Tejada, return from the disabled list. Yet columnist Kevin Kernan in the Post implores the Mets to do otherwise. Writes Kernan:
The Nationals tied the game in the eighth because Daniel Murphy could not get the lead runner when he bobbled a ground ball. Nothing is more deflating for a team than poor infield play. This has been a fun run for the Mets, but general manager Sandy Alderson has to bring in a competent fielding major league shortstop. The Mets should know better than anyone that leg injuries to shortstops can linger. They cannot really count on Tejada, who had been doing a terrific job. It hurt the Mets last night, and it will hurt them again. The Mets have come too far to be caught short now.
• The Mets selected eight college players -- including Arkansas third baseman Matt Reynolds with a compensation pick for losing Jose Reyes as a free agent -- as well as seven high school players on Day 2 of the draft. The selection process wraps up this afternoon with Rounds 16-40. Review the organization's Tuesday activity here.
• Speaking of Reyes, David Wright scored his 736th run as a Met on Tuesday, passing his former teammate for the franchise's all-time record for runs scored in the uniform. Wright already had passed Darryl Strawberry for the franchise record for RBIs this season. Wright also leads in National League All-Star voting at third base in the initial totals released. St. Louis' David Freese trails Wright by only 32,086 votes.
• The Mets said Jon Niese is more likely to undergo a planned surgical procedure known as ablation to address an occasionally irregular heartbeat after the season as opposed to during the All-Star break.
• Miguel Batista tossed two no-hit, scoreless innings Tuesday in his return from the DL while working in relief of Young. With Young and Batista added, the Mets cleared two roster spots by officially designating for assignment Jack Egbert and placing Ramon Ramirez (hamstring) on the DL.
• Louisiana high school shortstop Gavin Cecchini -- the Mets' first-round pick -- is a workaholic, notes Joseph Santoliquito at MaxPreps.com in a feature from earlier this year. Santoliquito recites one story in which Cecchini's father thought someone was trying to break into the family's home. It turned out it was Cecchini returning from an early, early morning workout at a high school field that involved pulling 200-pound airplane tires.
Said Gavin's father Glenn, also the high school baseball coach, to Santoliquito: "I remember that night when I thought someone was breaking into the house, I told Gavin, ‘You have to be kidding me,' and Gavin told me ‘Dad, you always taught me that whatever you want in life you have to work for it.' But this was a little too much. Everyone was telling Gavin he was doing too much and then Gavin was telling everyone he didn't feel good. We didn't even know he was going back after midnight to work out. Gavin's greatest strength is his greatest weakness. He's determined and works hard. I've coached 26 years and have kids that have made it to the big leagues. Gavin is the most talented kid I ever coached."
• Triple-A Buffalo was routed 21-3. Starter Dylan Owen was charged with 13 runs as his ERA swelled by more than two runs per game. Read Tuesday's full minor league recap here.
• Nats manager Davey Johnson raves about Harper in Newsday.
• Brian Costa in the Journal tries to explain why Mets pitchers unexpectedly entered the Nats series with the fourth-highest strikeout rate in the majors.
TRIVIA: At which university did Young play baseball (and basketball)?
Tuesday's answer: In the same draft the Nationals selected Stephen Strasburg first overall in 2009, they also picked 10th. They used that pick to select Stanford's Drew Storen.