“I’m starting to sound like a broken record,” Davey Martinez said after the Nationals’ 4-2 loss to the New York Mets on Tuesday night, “... but the walks and the errors are going to hurt us every time we go out there. So we just got to limit the mistakes, we’re shooting ourselves in the foot every time we go out there, and we got so many walks, and so many errors, we just got to clean that up.”
Washington’s pitchers walked a combined 10 batters on the night, and in the field the club had two more errors (and an out at home that wasn’t even close, but had more to do with a real nice relay by New York’s defenders according to the Nats’ skipper, than a bad decision on the runner’s (Yadiel Hernández’s) part or third base coach Gary DiSarcina’s).
The errors were the Nationals’ 24th and 25th in 31 games (12 fielding, 13 throwing), tied for the second-most among National League teams.
Going into the 32nd game, their .978 fld% was the third-lowest among NL teams, and their -6 DRS as a team on the season were 4th-lowest on the senior circuit.
It’s something Martinez and his staff are focused on as they try to improve after falling 11 games under .500 with the series-opening loss to the NL East-leading Mets.
“We’re taking ground balls every day,” he said. “That’s the focus of who we are. We’re taking ground balls, some of these errors that we’re making are just — brutally honest, kind of lazy mistakes, not moving their feet, and it’s all — it’s basically they’re throwing errors, so we got to continue to talk to them, we got to continue to move our feet — finish the play. Half of the play is catching the ball, the other half if throwing the ball, so we just got to finish the play all the way through, but I think these guys are more capable of doing that.
“Look, these are veteran guys, we’re not talking about rookie guys — these are guys that have done it. So we’ve got to talk through it, and we got to get them to move their feet.
“Every time the ball is hit to them — they want to anticipate the ball being hit to them, one, and when the ball is hit to them they’ve got to finish the play.”
“The only thing that really bothers me about last night’s game,” GM Mike Rizzo told 106.7 the FAN in D.C.’s Sports Junkies on Wednesday morning, “... was — we competed well, and that type of thing, but we’re making too many mistakes, obviously. We’re No.  in the league in errors made, and our run-prevention is poor, and our run-creation is solid. We’re No.  in the National League and No. 4 in baseball in batting average. We don’t strike out much, we’re at the top of the game there. And our run-scoring is fine, so we’ve got to prevent more runs, and to do that you have to run the bases better, you got to play defense better, which helps the pitching, and we’ve got to stop walking people.”
Their 127 total walks as a team, were second-most in the NL, (10.5% BB%), and their 1.47 WHIP was the second-highest in the National League as well, with 53 walks out of the bullpen third-most in the NL before the start play on Wednesday.
“Our pitchers have to throw the ball over the plate,” Rizzo reiterated, “... and throw it in the strike zone to give us a chance to win and I think that’s Davey’s message to our starters and relievers, you got to attack the strike zone, and trust your stuff, and let the defense help you behind you.”
Bench coach Tim Bogar and Third Base coach Gary DiSarcina, who also work with the club’s infielders, drilled them again before the second of three with the Mets in D.C.
“We did talk to — Bogie and DiSar talked to our infielders about the errors and the throwing and their footwork and stuff like that,” Martinez said before last night’s game. “I looked at all that stuff last night, and it’s basically using your legs, you got to use your legs to throw. A lot of times when they do and they make the errors, they don’t, and they’re off-balance and they just throw the ball, so we talked to them about that today. As I’ve always said, you can’t give teams 28-29-30 outs, we got to play good baseball.”
Martinez acknowledged that it did surprise him to see some of the veterans make the errors they have.
“I am a bit surprised,” he said. “Sometimes during the course of a game, you just forget the little things that I always talk about, and one is when you throw the ball, you really got to use your legs, and it’s two parts to playing infield — one part is catching the ball, and the other part is throwing it, and throwing it with accuracy. So, it’s not just about catching the ball, it’s also about throwing, so like I said, most of our errors have come from throwing, and that’s just a lack of using their feet.”
On the second play of the game last night, after Brandon Nimmo hit a shift-beating double off Nats’ starter Aaron Sanchez, Maikel Franco fielded a bunt by Starling Marte coming in, and threw it by first base for the Nationals’ 26th error in 32 games, with Nimmo scoring on the play for a 1-0 lead before an out was recorded ... in what ended up an 8-3 win for the hime team.