Robinson questions one pitch in loss

Robinson questions one pitch in loss

WASHINGTON -- The tension was heavy in the home clubhouse after the Nationals lost to the Mets, 3-1, in front of 37,732 at Robert F. Kennedy Stadium on Sunday afternoon. Frustrated catcher Brian Schneider flashed his temper, and manager Frank Robinson said that Schneider and reliever Jon Rauch called the wrong pitch to Mets outfielder Michael Tucker.

The score was tied at 1 in the top of the eighth inning. With one out, Tucker, who replaced Ricky Ledee in left field on a double-switch earlier in the game, drove Rauch's first pitch over the right-center-field wall for a home run to give the Mets a 2-1 lead.

Robinson questioned the pitch selection after the game, but wouldn't elaborate any further.

"It wasn't location. It was the selection of the pitch, period," Robinson said. "That's all that is. It's the catcher and the pitcher not being in tune to the situation. I'm not going to go any further than that."

Ask to respond to what Robinson said, a tense Schneider replied, "There are 160 pitches a game. If someone wants to say something about one pitch during the game, then he has that opinion, and he's entitled to that opinion.

"But, obviously, we don't want to throw a pitch where it was. If the pitch is in a different location, then we would have a different result. That's all I have to say about that pitch. I didn't throw the pitch. ... I'm not going to talk about who and what pitch. You can talk to Rauch about it."

Rauch wasn't not available, but he spoke through a team spokesman.

"I was off on my location and didn't execute pitches in situations when it mattered the most," Rauch told the spokesman.

For Tucker, he hit his first home run of the season against the club that released him late in Spring Training. Tucker didn't make the Opening Day roster because Daryle Ward outplayed him.

After the game, Tucker didn't see what he did against the Nationals as revenge.

"That's in the past," he said. "You can't dwell on that. If that's the case, I've been on a lot of teams. It's one of those things where you go out there and try to take advantage of the situation and try to help the team you're with. Mainly, all you're trying to do is get a good pitch and not miss it. Fortunately for me, I didn't miss the pitch that he threw me. It was big, just the situation of the game: tied in the eighth inning."

Rauch gave up another run in the ninth as Jose Valentin hit a sacrifice fly to score Carlos Beltran.

The loss spoiled a great outing by right-hander Tony Armas Jr., who gave up one unearned run in seven innings. He threw 98 pitches, 60 of them for strikes.

It was Armas' best outing since July 23, when he gave up just one in seven innings against the Cubs.

"I don't know he pitched any better than that," Robinson said. "He threw the ball in the strike zone. He challenged hitters. He moved the ball around. He pitched a very excellent ballgame."

The unearned run could have been avoided. The Nationals were leading, 1-0, on Alfonso Soriano's 38th home run of the season. But errors in the seventh inning by Schneider and second baseman Marlon Anderson helped the Mets tie the score.

David Wright stole second base, but Schneider's high throw went into center field and allowed Wright to go to third base. Valentin then hit a ground ball right at Anderson, who bobbled the ball. There was still enough time to throw out Valentin, but Anderson's throw went wide to Nick Johnson's left at first base, allowing Wright to score.

Schneider was upset when asked if his arm was OK. He then stormed into the training room area yelling at no one in particular.

Entering Sunday's game, he had thrown out 13 runners in 56 chances (23 percent). The low total is uncharacteristic for a catcher who has thrown out close to 50 percent of would-be base stealers during his career.

Last season, Schneider's season ended because of a tired shoulder

"I am not hurt," Schneider said. "I am sick of people telling me I am hurt. I am done with people. Because I didn't throw 50 percent this year, people say I am hurt."

Anderson, on the other hand, said he had no excuses for his error.

"I just missed it," he said. "I should have made it. The ball was not hit that hard."

Bill Ladson is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.