Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
Nationals Park will host a rare pitching matchup tonight.
Well, if you're at Nationals Park tonight, you're going to see something really rare: Two starting pitchers making their major-league debut against each other. Yunesky Maya, the 29-year-old Cuban right-hander signed by the Nats in July, has arrived after five minor-league outings. He'll be opposed by 24-year-old right-hander Dillon Gee, who is getting the call for the Mets after Johan Santana was scratched with a nagging injury to his pectoral muscle.
Gee isn't necessarily a highly touted prospect. He was New York's 21st-round draft pick in 2007 out of the University of Texas-Arlington. He made 28 starts at Class AAA Buffalo this season, going 13-8 with a 4.96 ERA. He's got a chance to make the back of the Mets rotation next spring.
Maya, of course, figures prominently into the Nationals' plans the rest of this season and beyond. We'll see if his wide-ranged repertoire, featuring an assortment of pitches from an assortment of arm angles, works at this level. He won't completely take the Mets lineup by surprise tonight, because he faced several of their Class AAA hitters only 11 days ago, allowing one unearned run and two hits in 4 2/3 innings for Syracuse against Buffalo.
Maya was one of three pitchers the Nats promoted from Syracuse today, along with left-hander Ross Detwiler and right-hander Joe Bisenius. Yes, Joe Bisenius. Who's he? He's a 27-year-old reliever who spent the last six years pitching in the Phillies' farm system, then signed with the Nats as a minor-league free agent in May. A power arm, Bisenius pitched at three levels of the Nats system this season, going 4-0 with a 3.05 ERA in 34 appearances between Potomac, Harrisburg and Syracuse. He's now a member of the Nationals bullpen.
To make room on the 40-man roster for Bisenius, the Nats designated catcher Carlos Maldonado for assignment.
Check back for updates throughout the evening...
METS at NATIONALS
Where: Nationals Park
Gametime: 7:05 p.m.
Radio: WFED-1500 AM, WWFD-820 AM
Weather: Sunny, 85 degrees, Wind 10 mph out to CF
CF Nyjer Morgan
SS Ian Desmond
3B Ryan Zimmerman
1B Adam Dunn
LF Roger Bernadina
RF Michael Morse
2B Danny Espinosa
C Wilson Ramos
P Yunesky Maya
RF Angel Pagan
2B Luis Hernandez
CF Carlos Beltran
1B Ike Davis
3B Mike Hessman
LF Lucas Duda
C Henry Blanco
SS Ruben Tejada
P Dillon Gee
6:10 p.m. -- Lineup change for the Mets: David Wright has been scratched with a bruised left ring finger, suffered while sliding into second base last night. Mike Hessman takes over at third base and will bat fifth, with Ike Davis bumped up to the cleanup spot.
7:06 p.m. -- Yunesky Maya's first major-league pitch is a 91 mph fastball to Angel Pagan for strike one.
7:18 p.m. -- Well, not exactly the first inning Maya, the Nats or fans were hoping for. After Pagan lined out sharply to first, Luis Hernandez and Carlos Beltran each singled up the middle. Then Ike Davis absolutely crushed a 1-0 fastball up in the zone to center field for a three-run homer. A walk to Mike Hessman brought Steve McCatty out to the mound to talk to Maya (with Wilson Ramos translating) and that did calm the pitcher down. He got a grounder to second to start a 4-6-3 double play that ended the inning. Still, the Nats are in a 3-0 hole before ever stepping to the plate after a ragged start to Maya's career. Twenty-one pitches for the Cuban righty, only 10 strikes.
7:24 p.m. -- Dillon Gee needed all of nine pitches to induce three flyballs to center field out of Nyjer Morgan, Ian Desmond and Ryan Zimmerman. That's the kind of first major-league inning you're looking for.
7:35 p.m. -- And a double by No. 8 hitter Ruben Tejada followed by an RBI single by Gee (in his first career at-bat, nonetheless) puts the Mets up 4-0. Maya bounced back to strike out Pagan on a 73 mph breaking ball, then got Hernandez to pop out to end the inning. First impression of Maya: He's got a nice assortment of breaking stuff, but he needs to throw it earlier in the count. His fastball isn't fooling anyone.
8:05 p.m. -- Seems like Maya has re-adjusted and is attacking hitters differently now. In the third and fourth, he started establishing his offspeed stuff first, then turned to his fastball to finish guys off. He's now retired eight of the last nine batters faced. We go to the bottom of the fourth, Mets still up 4-0, Nats still looking for their first hit off Gee.
8:12 p.m. -- Four innings down, and still no hits for the Nats against Gee, who has allowed only a third-inning walk to Ramos. He just struck out Desmond, Zimmerman and Dunn in order in the fourth. Nats aren't coming close to touching him.
8:17 p.m. -- Another solid inning for Maya, who retired the side quickly in the fifth. He's now set down 11 of the last 12 batters faced. Pitch count at 87 through five, he's due up fifth with Nats still trailing 4-0.
8:26 p.m. -- Nats still hitless through five innings against Gee, who hasn't looked fazed at all. Ross Detwiler coming out of the pen to pitch the sixth, so Maya is done. His final line: 5 ip, 5 h, 4 er, 2 bb, 3 k. He retired 11 of the last 12 men he faced. Threw 58 of 87 pitches for strikes.
8:38 p.m. -- It's only appropriate that Willie Harris breaks up Gee's no-hitter with a homer to right. I hear the Mets HATE that guy. Now 4-1 in the sixth.
8:41 p.m. -- Fantastic catch by Angel Pagan to rob Adam Dunn of extra bases. Pagan timed his leap at the right-field wall perfectly and hauled it in just before crashing into the scoreboard. Really nice play to end the sixth with the Mets still up 4-1.
8:53 p.m. -- Couple of nice innings out of Detwiler. He allowed a leadoff single in the sixth, then retired five straight, getting a double play grounder and striking out two. Hard to really evaluate a starter on two innings of mop-up relief, but this was at least a mildly encouraging development.
9:13 p.m. -- And the Nats are now three outs away from a pretty lackluster loss to the Mets. They've amassed all of one run on two hits and three walks against Gee, Pedro Feliciano and Bobby Parnell. Still trail 4-1 heading to the ninth.
9:33 p.m. -- That's it. Ivan Rodriguez, representing the tying run, grounds into a 6-4-3 double play and the Nats lose 4-1, producing a total of four hits. Maya takes the loss, though aside from his ugly first innings, he looked pretty good. Lack of offense was the key to tonight's loss.