Nationals’ home woes continue in mistake-filled loss to Mets

No team in baseball has been worse at home this season than the Washington Nationals.

No, not even the lowly Cincinnati Reds. 

Overall, the Nationals are one of the worst teams in the majors, but the version of the club that D.C. fans have witnessed in person through the first five weeks of the season is even worse.

Washington fell to the New York Mets 4-1 on Thursday afternoon to bring its record at home to an abysmal 4-13. The theme on Thursday was similar to that of many of the team’s previous losses — too many walks, sloppy play and inconsistent hitting. 

The Nationals entered Thursday as one of four MLB teams with more than 10 home losses. The other clubs were the Tigers (6-12), Cubs (4-11) and Rangers (5-10). Not exactly the best company. 

Believe it or not, the Reds, who started the season 3-23 and entered Thursday with the league’s worst record at 7-24, are only 5-9 in Cincinnati this spring. 

Included in the Nationals’ league-worst .235 winning percentage at home is the eight-game home losing streak the team endured in April — a skid in which the offense mustered only 16 total runs. 

Nationals manager Dave Martinez said before Thursday’s matinee that he and the coaching staff recognize there’s a problem with the team’s home performance. But what the problem is exactly is unclear, as the Nationals’ skipper said there’s not much difference between the team’s mentality on the road (7-9 record) versus at home. 

“We’ve definitely got to play a lot better at home. It’s something I talk about with the coaches,” Martinez said. “[On Wednesday], we played well. Some games here I thought we played well, just didn’t finish the game.”

Martinez added that a common thread in the team’s losses is sloppy play, whether it be errors, walks or baserunning mistakes. 

“We harp on it every day,” he said before Thursday’s rubber match. “We just have to limit our mistakes.”

The good news on Thursday was that the Nationals didn’t commit a single error. Washington ranks third-to-last in the majors with 0.81 errors per game, and after Tuesday’s 4-2 loss that featured two more errors, Martinez called the miscues “lazy mistakes.” 

The bad news, however, was that one day after Martinez praised the team’s pitching staff for not walking a single batter in Wednesday’s 8-3 win, starting pitcher Joan Adon couldn’t continue that trend.

The 23-year-old right-hander walked five of the first 10 batters he faced Thursday — three in the first and two in the second — en route to his sixth loss.

After walking the bases loaded in the first, left fielder Mark Canha smacked a two-run single to give New York an early lead. After hitting a batter in the fourth — his sixth free base allowed — Adon allowed an RBI single to Tomas Nido to end his day at just 3 2/3 innings. 

Adon also walked five in his previous start against the Angels and has allowed three base on balls in five of his seven starts. His 7.03 earned-run average is worst among Nationals starters with more than four appearances, and his six losses are the most of any pitcher in the majors.

Somehow, though, Adon’s erraticness wasn’t the sloppiest part of Thursday’s loss. 

After smashing a double in the fourth inning, Juan Soto committed a mind-scratching blunder on the bases, running to third on a grounder hit in front of him. He was tagged out during the rundown and then didn’t leave the basepath, which had a part in Josh Bell then getting thrown out at third on the same play. 

Soto and Bell would be the last two players to reach second base for the Nationals, who tallied only four hits, until Soto’s solo home run with two outs in the ninth. 

Mets pitcher Taijuan Walker earned the win after his best start of the season. The 29-year-old former top prospect kept the Nationals’ hot bats — 6.2 runs per game over the past 11 contests — at bay with a mix of pitches, allowing just three hits and walking one in seven shutout innings. 

Canha tacked on another run for the Mets in the ninth with a home run off sidearmer Steve Cishek. Aside from the solo shot, Washington’s bullpen was stingy, as Erasmo Ramirez, Carl Edwards Jr., Kyle Finnegan and Cishek combined to allow just two hits and one run in 5 1/3 innings.

The Nationals (11-22) begin another three-game home series Friday against the Dusty Baker-led Houston Astros. 

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