WASHINGTON -- Right-hander Yunesky Maya made his Major League debut on Tuesday night, and the results were mixed as the Nationals lost to the Mets, 4-1, at Nationals Park.
Maya admitted that he was nervous when the game started, and it showed during the first two innings, as he allowed four runs on five hits. In the first, after Angel Pagan lined out for the first out, Maya allowed consecutive singles to Luis Hernandez and Carlos Beltran before Ike Davis took a 1-0 pitch and hit a three-run homer over the right-center-field wall to give New York the lead.
In the second inning, Mets right-hander Dillon Gee helped himself by hitting a single to right-center field, driving in Ruben Tejada and giving the Mets a four-run lead.
After that, Maya retired 11 out of the next 12 hitters he faced, before being taken out of the game after five innings in favor of left-hander Ross Detwiler.
"In that first inning, I was leaving the ball around the plate," Maya said through interpreter and teammate Wil Nieves. "After the first inning, we were just hitting the corners, keeping the ball down with my fastball and getting ahead of hitters.
"I gave up four runs. I just wanted to hold them there to give the team a chance to win the game. I didn't want them to score any more runs on me. I just felt more comfortable [after] that first inning. I was hitting my spots. When I do well, that's what I do. I'm ahead of the hitters, and I can do what I want after that."
Even Davis took notice of how Maya was making adjustments on the mound. After hitting the home run, Davis walked in his second at-bat against Maya.
"On my first at-bat that I hit the home run, he threw the changeup down and I laid off it. [Then] the fastball away and I kind of caught it," David said. "But he was working the changeup, he had four or five different pitches that he was throwing. My next at-bat that I walked, he threw a curveball, a changeup, a fastball [and] a slider.
"The first couple innings, I think he had a little control issue. But he settled down and started throwing all of those pitches for strikes, and he ended up being pretty tough."
Gee was also making his Major League debut, marking the first time since April 9, 2009 that two starting pitchers (Toronto's Ricky Romero and Detroit's Rick Porcello) made their MLB debut in the same game. Gee was brilliant in his frist start, pitching seven innings and allowing one run on two hits. In fact, he had a no-hitter going after five innings. But according to Nationals outfielder Michael Morse, the team never thought about Gee pitching a no-hitter.
"We knew he was pitching pretty well. We know [a pitcher is not going to no-hit us]," Morse said. "We know we are going to get something."
Before the top of the sixth inning, manager Jim Riggleman took Morse out of the game in favor of Willie Harris. It turned out to be a good move. Harris led off the bottom of the inning and hit a solo home run to end the no-hit bid.
"The one thing I noticed was that he was pretty aggressive in the strike zone early," Harris said. "He was going fastball early, and then he was going to his breaking pitch. Once he started guys off with breaking pitches and got behind in the count, he would come after them with a fastball. I was looking for something out over the plate. I was fortunate to get a good pitch and put a good swing on it."
The Nationals would not get many good swings until the ninth inning off reliever Hisanori Takahashi. They had runners on first and second with one out. Ivan Rodriguez represented the tying run at the plate, but he ended the game by hitting into his 24th double play of the season.
Although he took the loss, Maya savored the moment of being able to pitch in his first big league game.
"I feel good, I feel great," Maya said. "I'm really happy with the team and the organization. I was a little bit nervous in the beginning of the game. I left one pitch up, and I paid for it. Hopefully, next time I can do better and get a win for the team."