Nationals fans flocked to the exit en masse during a home game against the Mets on Monday. The problem is, it was only the seventh inning.

Washington, which led 5-3 through four innings, allowed one run in the fifth, one in the sixth and three in the seventh to fall behind 8-5, which was the eventual final score. NL MVP candidate Bryce Harper said it was “pretty brutal” watching so many fans leave the game early.

“When you got to Nationals Park, it’s one of the few parks where the main entrance is out in center field, and you saw this whole sea of red just kind of flow out of there,” Newsday Mets writer Marc Carig said on CBS Sports Radio’s Ferrall on the Bench. “And I think other places might not be as noticeable, but man, it was noticeable today. Not only were the seats empty, but you saw this mass exodus in the seventh inning and after that. So I think Bryce Harper was asked by reporters after the game to talk about the atmosphere because this is pretty much a playoff game, but that was his response. He called it brutal that the fans were leaving in the seventh inning. (It’s) so hard to miss in this park because right there in center field you could see, again, it looked like a red river flowing out of there.”

The Nationals (71-66) now trail the Mets (76-61) by five games in the woeful NL East and the Cubs (79-57) by 8.5 games in the Wild Card.

Even worse, Max Scherzer got lit up again, allowing three home runs in six innings. In fact, Scherzer has allowed three home runs in three of his last nine starts and 14 overall during that stretch. After going 10-7 with a 2.11 ERA before the All-Star break, he is 1-4 with a 5.12 ERA after it.

Not exactly the kind of numbers you want from your ace who just signed a seven-year, $210-million contract.

“If you look at what Scherzer has done here in the last handful of starts, he’s had a hard time keeping the ball in the park,” Carig said. “And so you combine that with the fact that where the Mets really got better after the trade deadline was adding this power, adding this depth to the lineup. And so you add those factors together and you got what we saw early in the game. Even the balls that stayed in the yard were hit pretty hard, and you could have made an argument that Matt Williams probably should have pinch-hit for him in the fifth inning. They had a couple guys aboard and a chance to tack on and you let Scherzer hit. He grounded out and gave up more runs in the sixth. So yeah, not a good start by him. This is a guy they’re paying big bucks to to get it done in these types of games. But if you look at his (recent) performances, it’s been marked by the fact that he’s had a hard time with the home run.”


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