Figueroa knows about bush league baseball. After all, he's toured the world trying to resurrect his major league career.
But not until Monday night did Figueroa witness a truly amateurish display, the Mets pitcher suggested. Incensed at the chants emanating from the Washington dugout during the Mets' 10-4 loss Monday night at Shea, Figueroa ripped the Nationals afterward.
"They were cheerleading in the dugout like a bunch of softball girls," Figueroa said. "I'm a professional, just like anybody else. I take huge offense to that. If that's what a last-place team needs to do to fire themselves up, so be it. I think you need to show a little bit more class, a little bit more professionalism. They won tonight, but again, in the long run, they are who they are."
Figueroa couldn't pinpoint the culprits, but suggested the serenading peaked during the third inning, when the Nats loaded the bases and he forced in a run by walking Nick Johnson.
"Don't care," Figueroa said about learning the names of the perpetrators. "Truly unprofessional. "That's why they are who they are."
Of course, Lastings Milledge was in the middle of the controversy. The ex-Met - who has been disciplined for tardiness with the Nats this season - defended the actions.
"Well, what were we supposed to do? We're not supposed to cater to anybody on the opposing team," Milledge said. "We're not going to cater to him or anybody else. We've been down the last couple of days and we wanted to get something going. And if he doesn't like it, then he's got to deal with it. Anybody don't like it, they just have to deal with it."
Meanwhile, Willie Randolph suggested the cool weather felt "like late September." The result looked like it, too. The Nationals - who helped doom the Mets to their historic collapse last season - dropped the Mets to 2-2 on a home stand against division doormats Cincinnati and Washington.
Figueroa's feel-good story has taken a bad turn with the journeyman's second straight subpar start. Figueroa surrendered six runs (four earned) on five hits, five walks and two hit batters. He labored to complete a three-run fifth, which he eventually did by retiring Cristian Guzman on a pop-up with his 108th and final pitch.
Figueroa (2-3) didn't help his cause. He loaded the bases in the third by plunking Ryan Zimmerman, then forced in a run by walking Johnson as the Nats tied the score at 2.
An inning later, after the Mets retook the lead on an RBI single by Damion Easley, Figueroa committed a costly throwing error. After knocking down Felipe Lopez's comebacker with two runners in scoring position, Figueroa recovered the ball and seemingly had Rob Mackowiak nailed at the plate. But Figueroa's throw went well wide of catcher Brian Schneider as Washington again tied the score, this time at 3.
"I couldn't see anything," said Figueroa, who is expected to be skipped this weekend at Yankee Stadium. "The combination of spinning quickly and the wind blowing in my face, my eyes were blurry and I just tried to throw the ball softly, so I hoped that Schneider could get to it. I need to take my time. I panicked, thinking I knocked it down and I had a chance to get this guy out at home. I wanted to stop the bleeding right there but made it worse."
Figueroa allowed Washington (16-23) to take the lead in the fifth. Former Met farmhand Jesus Flores, lost in the Rule 5 draft two winters ago after the Mets failed to protect him, delivered a two-out, two-run double. With Figueroa's outing disintegrating, he then allowed an RBI single to opposing pitcher Odalis Perez as Jorge Sosa scurried to warm up in the bullpen.
The game got out of hand with Sosa's insertion, as Milledge greeted him with a two-run double. Sosa also surrendered an RBI single to Perez, the pitcher's third hit, in what became a four-run inning as his ERA rose to 7.06 and the Nationals took a 10-3 lead.
"At times it seemed like every pitch wouldn't work," Figueroa said. "I literally tried to throw balls down the middle just to let them hit it. When they did, they fouled off six or seven pitches in a row."