Sep 9, 2015, 3:37 PM EDT
After blowing two straight games to begin the series, the Nationals will now hope to avoid a sweep to the New York Mets on Wednesday with a true wild card as a pitching matchup.
There is a lot of unknown there because Stephen Strasburg (8-6, 4.35) is coming back from injury. He left his last start on Aug. 30 with tightness in his upper back and will be pitching for the first time in 10 days.
Strasburg has faced the Mets twice this season with a mixed bag of results. He has allowed eight runs (5 ER) in 10 2/3 total innings against New York.
Cy Young-candidate Jacob deGrom (12-7, 2.40) will start for the Mets. He is 1-2 with a 3.47 ERA in four starts against the Nats this season.
The Nationals will have their work cut out for them against deGrom, as Ryan Zimmerman, Michael Taylor and Yunel Escobar are all out of the lineup. Zim is dealing with a left oblique injury and Taylor has been playing through a sore right knee. But Escobar being out is a curious one. We’ll find out why as soon as we can.
UPDATE: Taylor is dealing with swelling in his right knee due to an injury to a bursa sac. Escobar is out with a fever that reached 103 degrees on Tuesday night.
Please check back for updates…
NEW YORK METS at WASHINGTON NATIONALS
Where: Nationals Park
Gametime: 7:05 p.m. EDT
TV: ESPN, MASN2, MLB.tv
Radio: 106.7 FM, 1500 AM, XM 183/857
Weather: Mostly cloudy, 88 degrees, Wind 6 mph in from RF
RF Jayson Werth
2B Danny Espinosa
CF Bryce Harper
3B Anthony Rendon
1B Clint Robinson
SS Ian Desmond
C Wilson Ramos
LF Matt den Dekker
RHP Stephen Strasburg
RF Curtis Granderson
CF Yoenis Cespedes
2B Daniel Murphy
3B David Wright
1B Lucas Duda
C Travis d’Arnaud
LF Michael Conforto
SS Wilmer Flores
RHP Jacob deGrom
HP Mike Estabrook
1B Ed Hickox
2B Paul Nauert
3B Dan DeMuth (cc)
7:08 p.m. — And we’re underway. There have been some clouds in the area, and they had the tarp ready to roll out earlier but the rain hasn’t come yet, so we’re starting on time with a ball from Stephen Strasburg to Curtis Granderson.
7:26 p.m. — Strasburg looked pretty sharp during a 10-pitch top of the first, the only damage off him Yoenis Cespedes’ infield single. And Bryce Harper looked plenty sharp in the bottom of the inning, somehow turning on a high-and-inside, 97-mph fastball from Jacob deGrom and sending it soaring into the right-field bullpen for his 35th homer of the season. The Nats made deGrom throw 21 pitches in the inning, not a bad start for them vs. the tough right-hander.
7:40 p.m. — Strasburg still looked sharp in the second inning, with one major exception: a first-pitch fastball up to Travis d’Arnaud that wound up in the left-field bullpen. That was another case of bad fastball location coming back to haunt Strasburg (and the Nats as a whole, for that matter). The Mets have been really aggressive so far, with Strasburg throwing only 21 pitches to eight batters. The aggressive approach could help them get good pitches to hit, but it also could keep his overall count low. We’ll see. 1-1 after two.
7:55 p.m. — Strasburg struck out the side in the third, all on curveballs, and he’s still only at 33 pitches. However, deGrom has found his groove as well, and has allowed only Harper’s homer so far. He’s at 43 pitches. Still 1-1 after three.
8:13 p.m. — A couple of impressive at-bats tonight from Harper, who followed up his first-inning homer with a double to the gap on another 97-mph fastball from deGrom, this time down in the zone. Then after advancing to third with one out, Harper scored on Clint Robinson’s opposite-field single, another nice piece of hitting. The Nats had a chance to really do something in the bottom of the fourth, but Robinson’s foot came off the bag ever so slightly trying to go first-to-third on Desmond’s single to right. That spoiled the chance of a big inning. Nonetheless, the Nats lead 2-1 after four, with Strasburg having struck out five of the last six batters he’s faced.
8:32 p.m. — Boy, has Strasburg’s curveball been devastating tonight, or what? He has now retired 11 in a row, 7 of them via strikeout. He’s at 63 pitches through five innings. Which, given the state of the Nats bullpen, could be very important tonight. Nats still lead 2-1 after five.
Chase here taking over for Mark as he works on his game story
8:51 p.m. — The game remains at 2-1 as both pitchers continued to cruise through the sixth inning. Strasburg allowed a walk to Granderson, but that was it. He notched two more strikeouts and now has nine in the game. deGrom needed 18 pitches in the sixth, but was not threatened whatsoever. On to the seventh we go as deGrom sits at 94 pitches and Strasburg goes back out there at 77.
9:08 p.m. — We are still locked at 2-1 as the pitchers’ duel has continued. Strasburg added three more strikeouts to have 12 through seven innings on 91 pitches. His career-high remains 14, set on June 8, 2010. I don’t think I have to tell you why that day was significant. deGrom recorded two more strikeouts and has nine in total. He’s thrown 102, so we’ll see if that’s it for him.
9:34 p.m. — The eighth inning was an absolute disaster and once again Drew Storen played a role. Strasburg first gave up the game-tying hit on a home run by Kelly Johnson, who pinch-hit. Matt Williams then replaced Strasburg with Storen two batters later. Storen came in to face, of all players, Cespedes, who cleared the bases with a double off of him the night before. Cespedes took one pitch for a ball before absolutely destroying a two-run homer to the visitors bullpen in left-center. That put the Mets up 4-2. The Nats would get a run back on a solo homer by Harper, his second of the night. It actually came off his former teammate, Tyler Clippard. It’s now 4-3 Mets as the Nats will turn to Jonathan Papelbon for the ninth.
9:48 p.m. — den Dekker pops out to LF and that will do it. Mets sweep the Nats. Another tough loss for the Nationals.
FINAL NL EAST STANDINGS
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As ESPN-980 AM's Nats Insider, Mark makes daily appearances on the station's various shows. Here's the 2015 schedule (subject to change)...
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