Adrian Houser, bullpen hit hard as Mets lose, 7-3, to Nationals

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. – Mets pitching, reliable most of the spring, wobbled a bit Friday night in a 7-3 loss to the Washington Nationals at Clover Park.

The Mets fell to 9-9-1 this spring. The Nationals are 12-8.

The Mets outhit the Nationals, 10-6.

Here are the takeaways...

-Adrian Houser made his fourth Grapefruit League start and did not fare as well as he had in his previous outing when he retired all 10 batters he faced.

Houser allowed four runs and four hits over five innings, giving up homers to Luis Garcia, a solo shot, and a three-run blast by Lane Thomas that turned a one-run Met lead into a two-run deficit. Houser did strike out six, though, including catching Victor Robles looking at a nifty backdoor sinker for strike three, just before Thomas’ home run.

The Thomas homer came on a four-seamer that Houser said he was trying to throw up and in and it ran back over the plate a little. This spring, Houser has allowed seven runs and 10 hits in 12 innings, a 5.25 ERA. He does have 14 strikeouts against only one walk.

- Houser’s outing snapped a streak of sorts for the Mets, who have been getting quality starting pitching most of the spring and particularly over their previous nine outings. The Mets had allowed only two runs in 32.1 innings, a 0.56 ERA, in that span. Houser’s night made it rise to 1.45 over 37.1 innings over the past 10 games. Overall, Mets starters have an ERA of 2.49 in camp. They entered Friday’s game with the lowest starter ERA among all MLB teams this spring.

- DJ Stewart, who entered the game just 4-for-22 (.182) this spring with no extra-base hits, smacked a leadoff solo homer to left-center off former Met Trevor Williams, knotting the score at 1-1. Stewart, who had an .840 OPS and 11 home runs in 58 games for the Mets last year, is vying for a bench spot. The Mets’ other runs scored on Starling Marte’s RBI single in the first – just his third hit in 10 games this spring – and Rylan Bannon’s RBI double in the eighth.

- Reliever Brooks Raley threw his third scoreless outing this spring in three tries, fanning Joey Meneses, Joey Gallo and Nick Senzel in a 15-pitch sixth inning. Jorge López threw a scoreless seventh after hitting the leadoff batter.

- Francisco Álvarez, who is making a point of trying to improve in throwing out runners attempting to steal, nabbed another would-be thief, gunning down pinch-runner Jacob Young in the seventh inning. Last season, Álvarez threw out only 13 percent of runners trying to steal, well below the MLB average of 19 percent.

- Shintaro Fujinami, who has potentially-intriguing stuff, did not command it very well as he took over in the eighth inning. He hit the first batter he faced and walked the next one.

Along the way, he threw three wild pitches, allowing one run to score, giving the Nats a 5-2 lead. Then he walked the next two hitters, loading the bases, and was yanked in favor of Junior Santos.

Santos got two quick outs, but then gave up a two-run single to Young before getting the final out of the inning on a grounder. Fujinami was charged with all three runs and his ERA this spring ballooned to 13.50


What's Next

The Mets will travel to West Palm Beach to take on the Houston Astros on Saturday. First pitch is scheduled for 6:05 p.m.

The Mets will have a bullpen day with Michael Tonkin starting and they will take on J.P. France of the Astros.