WASHINGTON — Noah Syndergaard is still looking for his slider.
The Mets right-hander blamed his inability to harness that pitch for his sloppy performance in the team’s 11-8 victory over the Nationals on Saturday.
Over six innings, Syndergaard allowed four earned runs on seven hits with seven strikeouts. He departed after 103 pitches.
“My slider really sucked today,” Syndergaard said. “I just could not get any feel for it whatsoever. Kind of a mediocre outing, mediocre results. It’s more of a mental thing, just trusting the grip and throwing it right now.”
After allowing three early runs, Syndergaard appeared to pick up steam in the fourth and fifth, escaping trouble in the latter inning with the help of a Victor Robles pickoff at first base. But in the sixth, Juan Soto stroked a leadoff double and scored on Kurt Suzuki’s sacrifice fly, tying it 4-4.
“I got better as the game went on,” Syndergaard said. “I went from going from the windup to the stretch because I was a little firm, so I felt I couldn’t stay consistent with my release point based on my footing working from the windup, so I just axed that and went straight to the stretch and it worked.”
Seth Lugo entered to record the final out of the eighth inning with the tying runs on base. After the Mets scored three runs in the ninth to take an 11-5 lead, manager Mickey Callaway stuck with the right-hander because he had already warmed up twice and would be unavailable Sunday regardless.
Lugo allowed four runs in the ninth — three of which were unearned following a Robinson Cano error — and was removed with two outs. He needed 41 pitches. Edwin Diaz needed only one pitch to retire Suzuki, ending the game.
Todd Frazier played four innings at third base and went 0-for-4 in extended spring training action in Port St. Lucie, his first game action of the spring. Frazier missed the entire Grapefruit League season with a strained left oblique. Travis d’Arnaud caught nine innings for the first time this spring in the same game and went 0-for-3.
Jed Lowrie took grounders at Nationals Park pregame, but is behind Frazier in his rehab. Lowrie missed the exhibition season with a sprained capsule in his left knee.