Though many Washington Nationals’ (49-54) players had hoped Thursday’s walk-off would be a vehicle toward more victories, their 11-0 loss to the New York Mets (46-53) on Friday afternoon more closely resembled a vehicle stuck speeding in reverse.
The Nats offense was again rendered impotent as they stranded seven teammates on base and went 0-for-4 with runners in scoring position.
The 2012 NL East Champions were shut out by 23-year-old Jenrry Mejia in his first start back from Tommy John surgery and just the seventh of his career. Mejia lowered his career ERA from 4.91 to 4.35 after his seven-hit, seven-strikeout, seven-inning performance.
The offense made some noise in the first and third innings when Steve Lombardozzi and Ryan Zimmerman twice reached on back-to-back singles. But twice Adam LaRoche and Jayson Werth stranded them.
Results like that from the heart of the order are precisely why the Nationals have struggled so hard to win ballgames, and their inability to bring home runners in scoring position continues to tell their disappointment-filled story.
Jordan Zimmermann had an atypical outing, earning the loss after a performance that significantly differed from the numbers the Nationals have begun to expect from him.
Through 20 starts this season, Zimmermann has averaged 6.7 innings, 94.2 pitches, 4.8 strikeouts, one walk, and 0.6 home runs per start. However, in six and two-thirds innings on Friday, Zimmermann threw 118 pitches, struck out eight, walked three and gave up two home runs.
He started the game strong by getting all three outs in the first inning on strikeouts, though he made a 400-foot mistake to Daniel Murphy, allowing the Mets to get on the board first with his seventh home run of the year.
Zimmermann got five consecutive outs, three of them on strikeouts, before giving up a double to Juan Lagares followed by yet another home run to Murphy.
Murphy’s 4-for-5, five RBI-day accounted for nearly all the offense for both teams until the ninth inning when a tough game turned wretched for the Nationals.
Ryan Mattheus made his first appearance since May 19, when he broke his pitching hand by punching a locker. Mattheus pitched a scoreless eighth, but couldn’t escape the ninth and was pulled in favor of Drew Storen, who Davey Johnson had originally said would be unavailable because he was suffering flu-like symptoms.
Storen entered the game with one out and two men on base. Four pitches later, there were no men on base, still only one out, and the score was 11-0.
An RBI-single to David Wright, an RBI-double to Marlon Byrd and a three-run home run to Ike Davis were more than enough to inspire loud boos from the crowd and fuming statements on Twitter.
Both of Storen’s parents chimed in on Twitter about their displeasure with their son being put in the game. His mother, @PamStoren, tweeted, “Are you kidding me?” when Storen ran on the field. His father, @mpos, followed with, “102 degree temperature, sicker than a dog...Let's make him wear it!”
In his post-game press conference, Johnson said Storen had been feeling a little better, and that he had no choice but to use him to avoid injuring Mattheus, who had thrown 43 pitches.
Regardless of who or what was to blame, Mattheus’ and Storen’s performances cemented a hideous defeat that brought the Nationals record since the All-Star break to 1-7.
They will get another opportunity to right the ship today, but against Mets ace Matt Harvey that won’t be an easy task.