Nats take advantage of hapless Mets
Mistakes in opener deliver many opportunities for Acta's squad
WASHINGTON -- Nationals manager Manny Acta occasionally has his young team work on defensive fundamentals before batting practice. It's an idea Mets skipper Willie Randolph might want to consider.
When the Mets made mistakes in the field, the Nationals capitalized with offensive outbursts en route to a 12-4 upset win over the Mets on Monday night.
Acta was the Mets' third-base coach in 2006, and he said he's not used to seeing so many mistakes when he faces his old team.
"They're human; they make errors, too," Acta said. "They've just had a couple of bad games."
But as for any revenge factor, Acta insisted that it's simply not there, and he even sounded a little remorseful at having to play spoiler to an organization that he said treated him like a king.
"I take absolutely no satisfaction in spoiling the Mets," he said. "We have to play the game the right way for the integrity of the game, and regardless of who we're playing, I just want to win."
Acta made that happen by pouncing on the Mets' defensive errors and using the tools that he had available.
In the fourth inning, with the Nationals rallying to tie the game, Acta elected to pull starting pitcher Tim Redding to try to keep the inning going with two outs. Pinch-hitter Ryan Langerhans grounded out, but Acta knew that he had 11 pitchers in his bullpen ready to go, and those pitchers held the Mets scoreless for the remainder of the evening.
Acta also got the most out of leadoff hitter Nook Logan. When Logan executed a bunt in the sixth, pitcher Scott Schoeneweis contributed to his team's defensive woes, firing an errant throw that that allowed two runs to score and sent Logan to third base.
"Those are the kind of things that happen when you have speed and get the bunt down and execute," Acta said.
The Mets didn't have much to say about execution, having filled blooper reels everywhere during the past few games. Third baseman David Wright said that it's a matter of regrouping after the mistakes happen.
"The errors, they're going to happen," Wright said. "Hopefully not 10 of them in two games, but they're going to happen. That's just something that comes along with playing the game."
Other than an error by Redding on his first play of the game, Acta was able to keep a clean sheet defensively, something that the Mets will look to do on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Acta said he came to Washington to prove he could successfully manage a big league team if given the opportunity. It just so happens that he's doing it at the expense of the team he used to assist.
Michael Phillips is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.