It's tough to know how the Nationals should feel about this series against the Mets.
On one hand, they got one quality start and had two pitchers depart before the fourth inning, including Craig Stammen on Sunday. On the other, they managed a split with the National League's third-best team despite not leading at the start of a inning for four days.
The Nationals' two walk-off victories stabilized things in a series where they didn't pitch all that well, but had they gotten better starts, they could have won the series against the Mets. Sunday's game was a perfect example of that.
By the time the fourth inning was over, the Nationals were in an 8-0 hole, mostly of Stammen's making. They rallied to create a save situation for Francisco Rodriguez, who they beat on Saturday, but ended the game with runners on second and third.
Had Stammen, who allowed two runs in 7 1/3 innings his last time out, been better, they could've beat the Mets on Sunday.
"It's not really anything physical," said Stammen, after emerging from a long meeting with pitching coach Steve McCatty. "It's kind of overthinking out there a little bit, and sticking to the game plan a little bit more, and being a little bit more convicted to my pitches."
He has only posted back-to-bakc quality starts twice this season, and one of those times was with a 3 1/2-week break between starts while Stammen went the minors.
"My pitches didn't look a whole lot different (than the last outing) did they?" Stammen said. "But that's been the whole season. I've pitched good one game, and not pitched well another. We'll have to figure out a solution to that. ... It's very frustrating, because once you feel like you're in the right mindset, you're throwing the right way, you feel like you can duplicate that. And then, to go out there like I did today, I didn't really duplicate that."
After a day off, the Nationals start a three-game series with the NL West-leading Padres on Tuesday.