NEW YORK — The Nationals on Friday night looked nothing like they did on opening day, when the Mets were scheduled to face a dangerous division rival.
No Max Scherzer. No Trea Turner. No Kyle Schwarber. No Brad Hand. No Starlin Castro. No Yan Gomes. No Josh Harrison. No Daniel Hudson. No Jon Lester. No Will Harris. No Stephen Strasburg.
Those 11 players were either traded away at last month’s deadline or are currently residing on the injured list. The only star remaining on the 2021 Nationals is Juan Soto, and the Mets pitching staff kept him off the bases all night. Soto went 0 for 4 with a strikeout (though, he did notch an RBI groundout in the third inning that put the Nationals on the board).
So what was the problem?
Once again, it was the Mets sleepwalking offense as they lost, 2-1, on Friday night at Citi Field to begin what should be an uncomplicated 15-game stretch against the bottom two teams in the NL East.
The Mets (61-67) mustered just four hits against the Nationals pitching staff, a unit that featured Paolo Espino, Andres Machado, Sam Clay, Kyle McGowin, and Kyle Finnegan. After Javier Baez homered in the fourth inning — a crushed solo shot that traveled 381 feet into the opposing bullpen — Washington retired the next 13 consecutive Mets at the plate. The Nationals (55-72) struck out 11 batters as the Mets’ offensive approach continued to bore.
Even though the Nationals are a skeleton of what they were when the season started, and poles apart from the 2019 championship team, the Mets could not beat up on a club that loudly announced at the trade deadline that it would no longer be competing for the playoffs this year.
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