WASHINGTON — Taijuan Walker stood astride Juan Soto after tagging him out during a collision at third base that the Washington Nationals slugger felt was more violent than it needed to be.
Walker and the Mets are punishing the N.L. East.
Walker pitched seven innings of no-fuss, scoreless ball, and the Mets remained unbeaten in 10 series this season, cruising past the sloppy Nationals, 4-1, on Thursday.
Walker, a burly right-hander, tagged Soto at third after the Nationals’ best hitter made an elementary baserunning gaffe, getting himself right into a rundown after Josh Bell hit a grounder to the left side. Soto slid into Walker’s forearm a couple of feet in front of the bag and argued for an obstruction call, but Walker already had the ball when Soto got there.
“It was unexpected. I got a little bit mad since it was a rundown and I didn’t think he was going to slip into me,” Walker said. “Smart play, I suppose, the guy was going to second, but within the moment I wasn’t too glad about it.”
After tagging Soto, Walker threw wildly to second base, and right fielder Starling Marte threw back to 3rd to nail Bell and end the Nationals’ best likelihood to rally.
“Things like that, after we’re behind like that, those usually are not good baserunning decisions,” Washington Manager Dave Martinez said. “We want to make higher decisions.”
Mark Canha went 3 for 4 with a homer and three R.B.I. for the first-place Mets, who took two of three from the last-place Nationals. The Mets have won nine series and split one, and hasn’t lost two straight games in a month.
“We now have a hitter of the day. We give the award out after we are available,” Canha said. “Today it was me, after which, what’s cool about this team is, I feel like, I’m pretty sure all our hitters have won the award sooner or later this 12 months. … Someone all the time is the hero, and that’s been the good a part of this 12 months.”
Walker (1-0) allowed three hits, walked one and threw 85 pitches within the longest of his 4 starts this season, which was interrupted by a stint on the injured list with right shoulder bursitis.
Seth Lugo struck out two within the eighth and Edwin Díaz allowed Soto’s two-out homer within the ninth before retiring Bell to finish the four-hitter.
Soto said he was at fault on the rundown play, which got here after he opened the fourth inning with a double off the wall in right-center.
“I used to be just caught in the midst of nothing,” he said. “I attempted to slip. I didn’t attempt to hurt him or anything like that. He’s got to present me room to not less than slide on the bottom.”