WASHINGTON, D.C. — The injuries are one thing. The Mets have had more than their share of unfortunate torn and pulled muscles and broken or stressed bones. Tuesday, they were without Yoenis Cespedes and Curtis Granderson in the starting lineup because of nagging issues, and T.J. Rivera seemed to injure his leg and was removed from the game in the bottom of the seventh. All of that is out of the Mets’ control.
The defense and pitching, however, are different stories and cost the Mets Tuesday in an 11-4 loss to the Nationals in a Fourth of July matinee at Nationals Park.
A fielding error by Jay Bruce and a ball that got past Wilmer Flores gave the Nationals a four-run fifth inning, and walks in the sixth led to a three-run inning as they clinched the series over the Mets.
It was the third-straight loss for the Mets (38-45) and they dropped to 11.5 games behind the Nationals (50-34) in the division. The Nats have taken 9-of-12 games against the Mets this season.
These Mets out of starting lineup against Nationals on July 4th
Bruce’s error was the Mets’ 53rd error this season, the 10th-most in the majors.
The sloppy defense has been an issue all year, as have the walks the pitching staff has issued.
With Wilmer Difo on first, Bryce Harper’s sharp ground ball to right field went through the legs of Bruce, allowing Difo to score the go-ahead run and Harper to advance to third. Flores got the tip of his glove on Daniel Murphys’ ground ball, but it shot into left field, allowing Harper to score. Ryan Raburn, who hit the walkoff bloop single that gave the Nats the win Monday night, doubled to score Murphy and Adam Lind.
Those defensive mistakes contributed to Seth Lugo’s exit after five. He allowed six runs on 10 hits – including five straight in the fifth inning. He walked two and struck out three.
T.J. Rivera exits Mets – Nationals with apparent injury
He managed to work around his walks, but the bullpen did not.
Erik Goeddel walked Michael Taylor and Difo with one out in the sixth, and Josh Edgin walked Bryce Harper to set up the Nationals’ second big inning of the day. Murphy drove in two with a single and Lind drove in the third.
The Mets pitching staff went into Tuesday’s game having walked 305 batters in 82 games (740 innings pitched), the fourth-most in the majors. Last season, the Mets staff walked 439 hitters in 162 games (1,447 innings).
The bullpen had walked 134 in 304.2 innings of work. The free passes have come back to bite the Mets, like Tuesday when it helped the Nationals rally from an early deficit.
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Lugo had been handed an early lead when Jose Reyes led off the game with a home run.
Lugo gave up two in the third inning on RBI-singles to Harper and Murphy.
Rene Rivera tied it at 2-2 in the fourth with a solo homer, his sixth home run of the season.
Bruce hit a two-run homer in the top of the ninth to snap an 0-for-19 streak.
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