Home run derby off Haren (Nats fall into third place with 10-1 loss)

Dan Haren entered tonight having allowed 12 home runs this season, tying him for the seventh-most surrendered by any pitcher in the majors.

After three innings of work, Haren now finds himself tied for the big league lead in homers allowed.

The veteran right-hander has served up three longballs in as many innings tonight, including two to former National Marlon Byrd, and the Nats trail the Mets 5-1.

At this point in his career, Haren lives and dies by his command. Working in the upper-80s to low-90s, Haren doesn’t blow pitches by guys, but needs to be able to keep guys off balance through pitch selection and command.

Tonight, his command has been off.

Byrd’s first homer - a two-run shot in the second - came on a splitter that got too much of the plate. David Wright’s two-run homer in the third came on a first-pitch 88 mph four-seamer that was hit a good 390 feet out to left-center. Bryd’s second homer, which came two batters after Wright’s, came on a cutter that didn’t cut much.

Haren has now served up 15 homers in 66 2/3 innings this season, an average of 2.03 per nine innings. That’s more than double his career average of 1.1 homer allowed per nine.

Ian Desmond drove in the Nats’ lone run to this point with an RBI single in the first. Since then, it’s been all Mets.

Update: So much for that momentum that the Nats hoped to build with last night’s walk-off win.

The Nats trail the Mets 7-1 midway through the fifth tonight. Haren went just four innings, allowing five runs on seven hits, and Craig Stammen allowed two runs in the fifth inning, giving the Mets a six-run cushion.

The Nats have seven hits through four innings, but have managed just a single run. They’ve stranded two runners in the first, second and fourth innings and left two in scoring position in the fourth after Roger Bernadina delivered a one-out, pinch-hit double to turn the lineup over and give the Nats a nice scoring opportunity.

Denard Span and Jayson Werth both struck out, putting a quick end to that scoring chance.

This sure isn’t what the Nats were hoping for tonight, not after they walked off the field last night with smiles on their faces and thoughts of a hot streak starting to build.

Update II: This one’s gotten ugly.

After retiring all five batters he faced in his big league debut in Atlanta last weekend, Erik Davis got smacked around to the tune of three runs on four hits in the seventh inning tonight. The Mets now lead 10-1 after seven.

The Nats have stranded nine runners tonight, including five in scoring position. No bueno.

One of the few positives from tonight was the performance of 22-year-old lefty Ian Krol, who struck out the side in the sixth in his major league debut. Krol allowed a leadoff bloop double to Omar Quintanilla but stranded the Mets shortstop on third, getting Daniel Murphy, David Wright and Lucas Duda all swinging.

With his parents and grandparents in town from Chicago to watch him, Krol touched 96 on the gun and showed a nice curveball. Impressive debut for the rookie, acquired from the A’s as part of the Michael Morse trade this winter.

Update III: As ugly as this game was, the next sentence that I write might be even uglier to Nats fans.

With tonight’s 10-1 Nationals loss, Davey Johnson’s club falls back below .500, drops into third place in the National League East behind the Phillies and now sits eight games behind the Braves in the division.

Again, no bueno.

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