Mason Thompson took the mound with a 7-6 lead over the New York Mets on Wednesday in Citi Field, and the 23-year-old right-hander, acquired from San Diego’s Padres at the July 30 trade deadline in return for Daniel Hudson, gave up a leadoff double on a 98 MPH 1-1 sinker to J.D. Davis, then threw one by Josh Bell at first base after fielding a bunt by Jonathan Villar, allowing the tying run scored on the error.
Villar took second on the throwing error, moved to third on a groundout by James McCann, then scored on a soft line drive to center field by Brandon Drury, 8-7 Mets.
Thompson held it there, but the two runs that scored were enough for the Mets to take the first game of three this week in Flushing, Queens.
“Obviously, starting off with J.D. Davis, I felt like I missed out over the plate,” Thompson said when asked what went wrong on the mound in NY. “[Davis] did a good job of hitting the ball the other way down the line. And then obviously a big error there following that, but I felt like I did a good job after that of continuing to battle. I mean, didn’t necessarily hit a ball extremely hard after that, gave up a couple of hits.
“One of those things where got to get the leadoff guy out and then when you don’t, you got to make the play and when they’re giving you an out, got to make the play, get the out, and make your job a lot easier.”
Nationals’ skipper Davey Martinez talked before Wednesday’s game about knowing, with some young relievers in the bullpen now, that there will be “bumps and bruises” along the way, but he said it’s still about trying to win games, while also providing opportunities for the pitchers to learn how to deal with adversity and succeed in the majors.
After the game, he reiterated that thinking in discussing Thompson’s outing.
“Thompson, other than the throw to first base, he jammed some pretty good hitters, and really threw the ball well,” Martinez said, after Thompson’s 21-pitch, 17-sinker outing, with that sinker averaging 97 MPH.
“I was encouraged by that,” Martinez added. “Like I said, there’s going to be some bumps and bruises on the way, but I still like the way they’re throwing the ball and I relayed that to Mason. I said, ‘Hey, you threw the ball good. You got one ball out over the plate down to Davis, where he likes it, but you learned, and he actually came up to me and he said, ‘I need to get that ball in, or up,’ and I said, ‘Exactly.’ So they’re learning. I like that out of those guys.”
Thompson talked about being part of a bullpen mix now that includes a number of young, unproven arms that are learning in the majors as part of the Nationals’ reboot of the club.
“Definitely have a group of younger guys in the clubhouse, and I think a lot of us are in the same boat as far as trying to get up here and compete as a group,” he said, “... while also getting that experience, but of course at the end of the day our goal is to still win and go out there and compete as best as we can and I think so far we’ve done a good job of that, but of course we’re going to face adversity at times, everybody does, and for us it’s important to take these lessons and learn from them and come back better from it.”
He said he would take what he could from the outing, learn from it, and move on.
“Absolutely. I think that’s the goal for everybody, at any stage, if you have an outing or an at bat that doesn’t go your way, obviously our goal is to learn from it and then from there, keep working, and hopefully put ourselves in a position where we can overcome that the next time.”
Thompson, who started earlier in his career in the Padres’ system, after San Diego drafted him in the 3rd Round in 2016, then moved into a full-time relief role this season before he was traded to the Nationals, is already talking like a reliever, as he did in discussing moving on from yesterday’s outing.
“For me, it’s going to be to try to wipe the slate clean as soon as possible and just get out there the next time and get after it and compete,” he said.
“It’s tough,” Thompson continued, “especially when the team puts you in a position to win a game there, and you don’t come through, but you’ve got to have a short memory, especially being in the bullpen, so I’ll try to get past this as quickly as possible and get on to the next one.”