Nationals' problems, frustrations on full display as season hits new low after getting swept by Mets

NEW YORK -- The Washington Nationals were swept by the New York Mets (who prior to this series were swept by the Miami Marlins) at Citi Field on Thursday (NYM 6, WAS 4), the loss was their fifth straight and their sixth in seven games. The Nats, seen by many as the preseason favorites in a challenging NL East, dropped to 19-31 on the season with their latest defeat, and they are 12 games below .500 for the first time since 2010.

Heading into Memorial Day weekend, they are in fourth place in the division and have the same amount of losses as the lowly Miami Marlins. It is not where the Nationals envisioned themselves with the season two months old.

Thursday's loss had a familiar feel. The Nats took the lead late and then lost it. This sequence of events has been a recurring theme for the struggling team. Washington really has only one trustworthy reliever, and that's Sean Doolittle. Aside from him, the rest of the Nats' bullpen is a mess. Just in this four-game series in New York, Washington's bullpen had three blown saves (including one from Doolittle) and the Mets scored 11 runs in the eighth inning.

It's fair to say that this team is in crisis mode. And if Nats manager Dave Martinez's ejection in the eighth inning is any indication, the frustrations are piling up.

"Look, we gotta find a guy in that seventh and eighth to get the ball to Doolitte," Martinez said following Thursday's loss. "That's the bottom line. In my mind, in my heart, I know we have the guys to do it, they just gotta finish it."

With the Nats clinging to a 4-3 lead, relief pitcher Wander Suero gave up the go-ahead, three-run home run to Carlos Gomez. It was Suero's third homer allowed this season and it came with two outs in the eighth inning.

"I was thinking of surprising him with a fastball on the outside corner, my cutter," Suero told reporters after the loss through team translator Octavio Martinez. "I had thrown to him yesterday, and I threw him a curveball. And I figured in the back of my mind that he was trying to look for the same pitching sequence. So I was trying to surprise him with that cutter."

Added Martinez: "Suero got two outs, and just threw one bad pitch. Again, another home run ahead in the count, that can't happen in those big moments like that. We got guys in the bullpen that I feel like are adequate to do the job, they gotta do the job."

The Nationals will return to Washington for a four-game series against the Marlins, who have won their last six games.

"Getting back at home to play Miami, all it takes is one or two to get the confidence back in here," second baseman Brian Dozier said. "I tell people that all the time. When you get off to bad starts, you just get scrutinized more than ever because that's the way you start the season. But it's all about how you finish."

At the 50-game mark in the 2019 season, the Nationals are at risk of missing the postseason for the second year in a row and finishing under .500 for first time since 2011.

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