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Covering the bases: Nationals 7, Mets 1

Mets starting pitcher Jonathon Niese throws a pitch

Mets starting pitcher Jonathon Niese throws a pitch to the San Francisco Giants in the first inning at Citi Field on Aug. 1, 2014. Credit: Ray Stubblebine

WASHINGTON -- If Jonathon Niese was still feeling soreness in his arm, manager Terry Collins said on Wednesday night that the Mets lefty would be smart enough to say something.

For the record, he hasn’t.

Even after he was hit hard in the Mets’ 7-1 loss to the Nationals, Niese insisted that health was not an issue. Instead, Niese said he must simply re-learn how to pitch now that he’s not making tweaks to his delivery that were designed to lessen the strain on his arm.

 

For starters

While Niese (six runs in six innings) berated himself on the mound, Nationals starter Doug Fister toyed with a Mets offense that has stumbled out of the gates in the second half. Facing the Mets for the first time as a member of the Nationals, Fister was charged with just one unearned run in 7 1/3 innings.

With the victory, Fister improved to 11-2 since May 14, matching the Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw for the most wins during that same span.

Against Fister, the Mets struck out seven times while failing to draw a walk.

 

In relief

Niese left the game with the Mets down 6-0, leaving only low-leverage work for the bullpen.

Buddy Carlyle worked a scoreless seventh to lower his ERA to 0.77 in his ninth relief appearance of the season. Carlos Torres allowed Adam LaRoche’s second homer of the game, a solo shot in the eighth. Torres has allowed a homer in back-to-back outings and three of his last four appearances.

 

At the plate

Daniel Murphy and Lucas Duda finished with two hits apiece. But while the Mets finished with eight hits overall, none of them were for extra bases. It was the 11th time this season that the Mets finished with only singles.

The Mets didn’t get on the board until the eighth, when Murphy rolled an RBI single through the hole against ex-Yankee Matt Thornton, who made his Nationals debut after being claimed off waivers on Tuesday.

Until then, the Mets’ night was marked only by frustration. Murphy tempted an ejection in the fourth inning when waved his hands at the plate while arguing a called strike three with home plate umpire Larry Vanover. Murphy took a pitch that he thought was low and inside and continued voicing his displeasure from the dugout.

But Vanover exercised restraint and Murphy remained in the game. Since he was given a day off on Sunday, Murphy is 7-for-13 with five RBIs in four games.

In the first half, the Mets hit .243 and averaged 4.0 runs. But since the All-Star Break, they’re hitting just .209 while averaging 2.8 runs. 

 

With the glove

Rightfielder Curtis Granderson hasn’t been doing much in the leadoff spot lately. But he made an impressive sliding catch in the fourth inning to take a hit away from Ian Desmond.

Less impressive was catcher Travis d’Arnaud, who has battled mechanical issues behind the plate all season long. In the second, he sailed a high throw when Desmond swiped second base. This season, d’Arnaud has caught 10 of 48 basestealers, or 21 percent. That’s below the league average of 26 percent.

D’Arnaud leads the National League with 11 passed balls. With him behind the plate, pitchers have been charged with 28 wild pitches, tied for four in the NL.

 

On deck

The Mets will need a Good Hair Day to take two of three from the Nationals. In Thursday’s 12:35 p.m. matinee, Mets rookie Jacob deGrom (6-5, 2.77 ERA) gets the assignment against Nationals righthander Jordan Zimmermann (7-5, 3.00 ERA).

New York Sports