March 6, 2021

Washington Nationals Series Preview: New York Mets

The National League East is about to get a whole lot more exciting…or a whole lot more boring. The Nationals (49-41) open up a three game series with the Mets (48-44), a team they enter the series leading by just two games in the National League East. Six of the Nationals’ next 13 games are against the Mets, so by the first weekend in August we’ll probably have a better picture of how the East will shake out.

For the Nationals the series also marks the end of a “homestand” where they haven’t had to travel far since July 2nd, when they were in Atlanta to face the Braves. The Nationals had two home series and then a series in Baltimore before the All Star break (when players traveled for different reasons), then this six game homestand. Next the Nationals play ten games on the road, in Pittsburgh, in Miami, and then in New York against the Mets again.

By that series at Citi Field the trade deadline will have passed, and we’ll get an idea if the National League East will be a two-team race…or whether the Nationals will have put some distance between themselves and the pack and can focus on getting healthy for October.

*The Last Time…

The Mets and Nationals haven’t seen each other since early May, when the Nationals took three out of four against the Mets in New York. In that series the teams split the first two games before the Nationals posted back-to-back 1-0 wins, a sign of offensive struggles to come for the Mets. The Mets took two out of three in the season-opening series between the two teams.

*In The Other Dugout

Just how badly do the Mets need an offensive spark? Their starting pitchers have out-hit their bench players, for one thing. Pitching is far and away the Mets’ strength (on the mound as well as at the plate). Jacob deGrom gave the baseball world a peek at just how strong when he struck out the side on 10 pitches in his inning of work during the All Star Game. The Mets adjusted their rotation coming out of the All Star break so that deGrom and Matt Harvey would face the Nationals in this series…Noah Syndergaard will start the third game. What Mets fans really want to see, though, is an adjustment to the lineup, so those pitchers get the run support they have lacked most of the season.

*Matchup To Watch

The Mets could get an early indication of how their offense will go against Washington in the first game. Juan Lagares (.421), Michael Cuddyer (.375), and Daniel Murphy (.350) have all hit well against Gio Gonzalez. If those core lineup pieces hit, the Mets might actually score some runs. Also worth noting for Monday night: Bryce Harper is 0 for 12 with 6 strikeouts against Matt Harvey.

The best pitching matchup could very well come in Wednesday’s early start, and not just because Noah Syndergaard will be sending an extra vowel against Jordan Zimmermann’s double consonants. The day game after the night game is one factor, but Noah Syndergaard has also given up just three runs and struck out 19 in his last two starts.


Monday, 7:00pm: Matt Harvey (8-6, 3.07 ERA) vs. Gio Gonzalez (6-4, 3.99 ERA)

Tuesday, 7:05pm: Jacob deGrom (9-6, 2.14 ERA) vs. Tanner Roark (4-4, 4.43 ERA)

Wednesday, 12:35pm: Noah Syndergaard (4-5, 3.05 ERA) vs. Jordan Zimmermann (8-5, 3.27 ERA)

Washington Nationals Game 26 Review: Fister owns Mets in 1-0 win


The Washington Nationals have only scored two runs in their past two games. But it doesn’t matter how many you score if you don’t give up any.

For the second day in a row, the Nats shut out the New York Mets 1-0, the first time in Nats/Expos history that’s happened and the first time it’s happened in DC baseball history since 1915.

Doug Fister allowed five hits in 6 1/3 innings, striking out three, and the Nats (12-14) made a first inning run against Dillon Gee stand up. The win is the third in four games against the Mets over the weekend, and trims the Nats deficit in the N.L. East to four games.

Fister has had trouble so far this season pitching up in the zone, where his 86-87 MPH fastball has served as batting practice at time. On Sunday, he was able to pitch in the lower half of the strike zone much better, and generated six ground ball outs, to go along with six fly outs. Fister was able to keep his sinker out of he middle of the plate, and Mets batters didn’t make solid contact when they were able to put it into play.

On the other side, Gee was solid as well against the Nats hitters, who after producing back-to-back 13 run games against Atlanta earlier in the week are back to scuffling again. Gee allowed six hits over five innings, but also walked five, which contributed to his early exit.

The Mets pen allowed just one hit and one walk over four innings. The Nats relievers didn’t have to pitch as long, but were just as good. Matt Thornton walked two in the eighth, the only runners to reach against four Nats relievers.

Drew Storen pitched a 1-2-3 ninth for his seventh save of the season.

Washington scored the lone run in the first inning. Denard Span led off with a walk, but was erased on a fielder’s choice grounder by Yunel Escobar. Escobar in turn was erased on Jayson Werth’s grounder to third. Bryce Harper laces a single to center to move Werth up to second, and the veteran left fielder scored on Ryan Zimmerman’s broken bat looper over first base.

The Nationals threatened in the fifth and sixth innings, getting a runner to third with no outs in both frames, but rallies ended with no more runs pushed across.

Ultimately, they weren’t needed.

HERO: Doug Fister. Like Gio Gonzalez Saturday night, the tall righty came through with a stellar outing, helping the Nats take the series against the Mets and cut into what was once close to a double-digit deficit in the division.

GOAT: Everyone but Jose Lobaton a stranded multiple runners, but Denard Span was the biggest culprit, leaving five runners on the bases.


  • Ian Desmond went 2 for 3 with two doubles, and is maybe showing signs of life of breaking out of his horrendous hitting slump.
  • Jayson Werth, however, is not. His 0 for 4 day drops his season battin average down to .159, a gaping hole in the middle of the order.
  • After playing in Friday’s game for AA-Harrisburg, Anthony Rendon did not play again over the weekend, still nursing “tightness” in his right side.

NEXT GAME: The Nats return home for a much-needed homestand. Monday, Jordan Zimmermann (2-2, 4.88) hosts the Miami Marlins and David Phelps (1-0, 3.38)

Washington Nationals Game 24 Review: Pitching duel ends with defensive gaffe in loss to Mets

Friday night’s matchup promised to be a pitchers duel, and it did not disappoint. The Washington Nationals sent Max Scherzer up against the New York Mets’ Matt Harvey, and the two matched each other — almost completely — for seven innings.

But Jayson Werth misplayed a routine fly ball in the eighth inning, which turned into a three-run double and the Mets topped the Nats 4-0, snapping the Nats modest three-game winning streak.

Scherzer allowed one earned run — Michael Cuddyer’s fourth inning solo home run — on five hits and a walk, striking out 10. Harvey did him one better, throwing seven shutout innings on five hits and a walk, striking out three.

Scherzer routinely hit 95-96 on the radar, with a biting slider. He retired the side in order in the first two innings. He hit Dilson Herrera leading off the third, then with one out walked Curtis Granderson on a full-count high fastball. But he came back to get Juan Lagares swinging at one of those sliders.

Meanwhile, Harvey was mowing down the Nats (10-14). Michael Taylor, who started for Denard Span nursing soreness around his abdominal surgery site, reached on a infield single in the first, but was erased on a double-play grounder from Yunel Escobar. Wilson Ramos reached on two-out infield single in the second, and Taylor doubled with two gone in the third, but both were left stranded.

The Mets finally got to Scherzer in the fourth. After Lucas Duda struck out swinging, Cuddyer ripped a 0-1 fastball to right center that kept carrying over the wall at Citifield, which was moved in as part of the restructure of the outfield configurations.

Both pitchers breezed through the seventh innings, then were removed for pinch-hitters.

The Mets got something going in the eighth against reliever matt Thornton. Granderson struck out swinging to lead off, but Lagares and Duda both singled, and manager Matt Williams went for righty Blake Treinen.

Treinen immediately walked Cuddyer to load the bases. Then, on a 3-1 count, Daniel Murphy hit a soft, routine liner to left. Jayson Werth misread it and broke in on it, then slipped trying to recover and the ball went over his head and to the wall, clearing the bases.

The Nats went quietly in the ninth inning off Jeurys Familia.

HERO: Max Scherzer. Just another tremendous outing that was wasted by no offense and porous defense.

GOAT: Jayson Werth. He blew a routine fly ball that if had played correctly would not have advanced a runner and been the second out of the eighth inning. He’s got to have that at any time, let alone a one-run game.


  • The whiff: With 10 Ks, Scherzer notched his 26th MLB double-digit strikeout game.
  • No offense: Michael Taylor and Wilson Ramos had two hits apiece. The rest of the Nats combined for two.

NEXT GAME: Saturday at 7:10 pm at Citifield. Gio Gonzalez (1-2, 5.01) faces Jonathan Niese (2-1, 2.74).


Washington Nationals Game 23 Review: Nats trump Mets again at Citifield

With the Washington Capitals playing across town at Madison Square Garden in Game 1 of their second round matchup with the New York Rangers, the Washington Nationals took the field in Queens to faceoff against the New York Mets at Citifield, a ballpark that they’ve had quite a bit of success at the past two years.

Game 1 of this four-game series found the Nats having success once again. Stephen Strasburg settled down from a tough second inning, and the offense bailed him out and more as the Nats handed the Mets an 8-2 loss while the Caps got a goal with 1.3 seconds remaining to take their Game 1 against the Rangers.

Strasburg really had the fastball going in this one, routinely hitting 95-96-87 on the radar gun, but the big righty had trouble locating his changeup all night and eventually relied almost solely on the fastball against the Mets, who repeatedly had trouble catching up to it.

The Mets got to Strasburg in the second, who labored all night throwing a lot of pitches. With one out, Wilmer Flroes doubled to left, then scored on Kevin Plawecki’s double to center. Plawecki scored on Curtis Granderson’s two-out single to right to make it 2-0.

But the suddenly resurgent Nats offense got that back — and more — in the fourth against Mets starter Jacob deGrom. Denard Span walked following a seven-pitch at bat and moved up when Flores botched a routine ground ball off the bat of Yunel Escobar. Jayson Werth reached down and lined a single to left which scored Span and send Escobar to second.

Bryce Harper walked to lead the bases, and when Ryan Zimmerman’s long fly ball to right was caught, Escobar walked home with the Nats second run. Wilson Ramos then grounded out to short, but Werth came home on the play to make it 3-2.

Washington (10-13) added on in the sixth. Escobar reached on a single, went to third on Harper’s double into the right field corner, and came home when a ground ball from Zimmerman bounced through the middle of the infield for a single. Ramos followed with his own single up the middle, and the Nats went up 5-2 and chased deGrom from the game. Ian Desmond walked against reliever Erik Goeddel, but Danny Espinosa flied to medium center, and Zimmerman was gunned down by Juan Lagares trying to score on the out.

The Mets got men on the corners with one out against Strasburg in the sixth, and with his pitch count high already, manager Matt Williams went to Aaron Barrett. Barrett used a wicked slider to retire Eric Campbell on strikes and got Flores to line out to left to quash the rally.

Strasburg finished 5 1/3 innings and allowed just the two earned runs on six hits and one walk, striking out seven, to earn his second win of the season.

Sammy Solis came on in the seventh for his MLB debut and was impressive. The lefty induced Plawecki to ground to short, pinch-hitter John Mayberry Jr lined out to left, and Curtis Granderson looked at strike three to end the frame.

The Nats tacked on three more in the ninth. Clint Robinson led off with a single and went to second on Escobar’s single. Jayson Werth loaded the bases with a single and Bryce Harper cleared the bases with a double to the left center gap.

HERO: Several hitters had good nights, including multi-hit performances by Escobar (3 for 5), andWerth, harper and Zimmerman all with two hits apiece. But let’s go with Solis, in his MLB debut, with two scoreless innings of relief in what was a 5-2 ballgame at the time.

GOAT: Mets reliever Buddy Carlyle. Carlyle got the save opening day against the Nats when Jenrry Mejia came up lame, but he was lit up in this one in the eighth inning. Three earned runs on four hits in 1 1/3 innings.


  • According to the Elias Sports Bureau, this is the first time the Nationals have had at least four players make their Major League debuts in April since 2007, when Levale Speigner, Kory Casto, Matt Chico and Jesus Flores all made the jump.
  • The last time the Nationals had four-plus players debut in the same month was Sept. 2011: Tommy Milone, Corey Brown, Steve Lombardozzi, Brad Peacock and Atahualpa Severino.
  • Bryce Harper finishes April hitting .286/.440/.545 with 5 doubles, 5 homers, 15 RBI and 22 walks. In case you forgot, he’s 22 years old.

NEXT GAME: Friday night at 7:10 pm Eastern. Max Scherzer (1-2, 1.26) faces Matt Harvey (4-0, 3.04).

Washington Nationals Series Preview: New York Mets

For the last day of April and the first few days of May, this series is about as big as it gets for both teams.

The Mets (15-7), after winning 11 straight, have lost two straight series, dropping two out of three on the road to both the Yankees and the Marlins. They still have a hold on first place in the National League East, 4 1/2 games in front of the second-place Braves, and are looking to prove themselves to the Nationals, a team that has given them a hard time over the past few years.

The Nationals (9-13) found themselves eight games behind the Mets until Dan Uggla led Washington to its current two-game winning streak with his ninth inning home run Tuesday night. The Nats are now six games back and poised to make a move as they open this four-game weekend series in New York.

In one of those fun sports scheduling quirks, the Nationals-Mets series in New York begins on the same night the Capitals and Rangers begin their playoff series in the same city.

The baseball version isn’t as important as the hockey playoff one.

It just feels that way.

The Last Time…

The Mets and Nationals opened the season in Washington earlier this month, with the Mets taking two of three. Jordan Zimmermann, who pitched the Nationals to their win in that series, will not pitch against the Mets in New York.

In The Other Dugout

  • Nats fans won’t be sad to hear that David Wright will not return for the Mets in time to face the Nationals. He is recovering from a hamstring injury and has progressed to the point where he is participating in baseball activities, but will not return until next week at the earliest.
  • It will also be interesting to see how Jacob deGrom rebounds from his worst start of the season last Friday against the Yankees, where he gave up six runs in five innings. He’ll start for the Mets tonight.

Matchups To Watch

There might be some lineup juggling by the Mets during this series. Shortstop Wilmer Flores, for instance, is 5 for 9 in his career against Saturday night’s Washington starter, Doug Fister, but 0 for 10 against Friday night’s starter Gio Gonzalez.

On the Nationals’ offensive side, Bryce Harper seems to have great numbers against at least one pitcher on every staff he faces. This time around it’s Dillon Gee, who will start for the Mets on Sunday. Harper is 7 for 19 against Gee for a .368 batting average, with two home runs.


Thursday, 7:10pm: Stephen Strasburg (1-2, 4.88 ERA) vs. Jacob deGrom (2-2, 2.96 ERA)

Friday, 7:10pm: Gio Gonzalez (1-2, 5.01 ERA) vs. Matt Harvey (4-0, 3.04 ERA)

Saturday, 7:10pm: Doug Fister (1-1, 3.28 ERA) vs. Jonathan Niese (2-1, 2.74 ERA)

Sunday, 1:10pm: Max Scherzer (1-2, 1.26 ERA) vs. Dillon Gee (0-1, 4.26 ERA)

Washington Nationals Game 3 Review: “Dark Knight” makes gloomy day for Nats

It was billed as a pitcher’s duel, with Stephen Strasburg hosting Matt Harvey in his return from Tommy John surgery in the third game of the season. Unfortunately for the Washington Nationals, only one of the pitchers really lived up to his end of the bargain.

Strasburg gave up six runs — but just three earned — over 5 1/3 while Harvey, who has “Dark Knight of Gotham” carved in the knob of his bats, was masterful, striking out nine in six innings and the New York Mets took the rubber match of the three-game series, 6-3, before an announced 25,327 at Nationals Park. [Read more…]

Nats Nightly: Nationals over Mets 2-1; Jordan Zimmermann outduels Jacob deGrom

Dave Nichols of District Sports Page and Patrick Reddington and Doghouse of Federal Baseball discuss the Washington Nationals 2-1 win over the New York Mets.

Check Out Baseball Podcasts at Blog Talk Radio with District Sports Page Nats Nightly on BlogTalkRadio

Washington Nationals Game 2 Review: Zim’s homer stands up as Nats beat Mets

Even though the Washington Nationals got some good news about their leadoff and No. 3 hitters before the game, they’ll still be without them for a little longer and will have difficulty scoring an excess of runs. For now, the Nats will have to rely on strong pitching and timely run production.

They got both Wednesday, as Jordan Zimmermann pitched six strong innings, Ryan Zimmerman homered in the first inning, and the Nats beat the New York Mets 2-1 at soggy Nats Park.

Escobar congratulates Ryan Zimmerman after hitting a 2-run homer.  Washington Nationals defeated the New York Mets 2-1 at Nats Park on April 8, 2015 after a rain delay (Photo by Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Escobar congratulates Ryan Zimmerman after hitting a 2-run homer.
Washington Nationals defeated the New York Mets 2-1 at Nats Park on April 8, 2015 after a rain delay (Photo by Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Before the game, manager Matt Williams said Jayson Werth will report to High-A Potomac to start a rehab assignment and might be ready to return to the lineup soon after he’s eligible on Saturday. Denard Span will go back to extended spring training in Viera to play in a few more simulated games before beginning his rehab assignment, but he’s well ahead of schedule.

As for the game, after an hour rain delay in which no rain actually fell, Zimmermann made short work of the Mets in the first. Then in the bottom half, Yunel Escobar singled with one out ahead of Ryan Zimmerman’s first home run of the season, a no-doubt shot to left on an 1-1 count off Jacob de Grom, last season’s N.L. Rookie of the Year for a 2-0 lead.

New York got one back in second, as three consecutive ground ball singles, the last by Travis d’Arnaud, cut the lead in half. But with the bases loaded, Zimmermann struck out Curtis Granderson looking on a high slider, one that Granderson thought was too high.

The Nats got a leadoff double by Wilson Ramos in the sixth looking to add to a tenuous lead, but Ian Demsond whiffed at a slider, Dan Uggla popped up and Tyler Moore grounded to third.

Zimmermann didn’t return for the seventh. He threw 91 pitches in six full innings, allowing the one earned run on five hits and no walks, striking out four.

A one-out double in the seventh by Michael Taylor was wasted, as he ran into an out at third on a grounder, and Zimmerman struck out to end the inning.

Blake Treinen pitched a scoreless eighth, including nabbing a line drive by Lucas Duda, then doubling up David Wright at first. Drew Storen had an uneventful ninth inning for his first save of the season, including a punch-out on a nasty slider following a 94-MPH fastball on the black.

HERO: Ryan Zimmerman. He provided all the scoring the Nats needed, and turned in several sparkling plays on defense.

GOAT: Ian Desmond. No errors unlike opening day, but 0 for 4 with two Ks. He’s lost at the plate right now, swinging at everything with very little contact.


  • Feeling it at first: Zimmerman seems to be settling in fine at first base. In the second, he made a full out dive toward home plate to catch de Grom’s popped up bunt. The Face of the Franchise made another diving stop in the eighth, robbing Curtis Granderson of potential extra bases.
  • Second time’s a charm: In the fourth, d’Arnaud hit a high pop to second base and Dan Uggla camped underneath of it, similar to the play that Ian Desmond committed an error on opening day. This time, Uggla emphatically called for it, waving his arms, and Desmond demurred.
  • Holding ‘em to one: In the sixth, Lucas Duda’s line drive one-hopped the wall in right. Harper made a clean pick-up of the carom and fired a laser to second, holding Duda to a single. Duda was erased on a fielder’s choice grounder on the next at bat.

UP NEXT: Thursday at 1:05 pm. Stephen Strasburg (14-11, 3.14 in 2014) hosts RHP Matt Harvey (9-5, 2.27 in 2013).

Mets Kirk Nieuwenhuis was safe when the ball popped out of Nats 2B Dan Uggla's glove. Washington Nationals defeated the New York Mets 2-1 at Nats Park on April 8, 2015 after a rain delay (Photo by Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Mets Kirk Nieuwenhuis was safe when the ball popped out of Nats 2B Dan Uggla’s glove. Washington Nationals defeated the New York Mets 2-1 at Nats Park on April 8, 2015 after a rain delay (Photo by Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Nats Nightly: Nationals drop season opener, 3-1 to Mets

Dave Nichols of District Sports Page and Patrick Reddington and Doghouse of Federal Baseball discuss the Washington Nationals 3-1 loss to the New York Mets on Opening Day.

Check Out Baseball Podcasts at Blog Talk Radio with District Sports Page Nats Nightly on BlogTalkRadio

Washington Nationals Opening Day Review: Scherzer strong, defense does Nats in

Fans lining up at Center Field Gate waiting for the gates to open at Nationals Park for home opener, 4/6/2015 (Photo by Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Fans lining up at Center Field Gate waiting for the gates to open at Nationals Park for home opener, 4/6/2015 (Photo by Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Clear, azure blue skies. Temperatures in the low 70s. A full house at Nats Park, home of the 2018 All-Star Game. A 4:05 pm start, free from rush hour traffic both getting to and returning home from the park. One could not have asked for a better day for baseball in April.

Unfortunately, the home team couldn’t comply. Ian Desmond made two errors, which both contributed to unearned runs against starter Max Scherzer, and the New York Mets beat the Washington Nationals 3-1 before 42,295 at Nats Park.

Scherzer came as advertised, not allowing a hit until Lucas Duda’s RBI single in the sixth inning, and he finished with eight strikeouts in 7 2/3 innings. [Read more…]

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