New York looks to continue its best start in 21 years when it faces Washington on Wednesday at RFK Stadium.
The Mets beat the Nationals 7-1 on Tuesday for their sixth win in the last seven games between the teams. It was New York’s fourth straight win overall and pushed its record to 5-1, its best start since 1985.
After their three-game series last week in New York ended with a near brawl, Major League Baseball warned the umpires to watch out when the teams met this week in Washington. Seven players were hit by pitches in the three-game series, including six Nationals, and both Washington manager Frank Robinson and relief pitcher Felix Rodriguez were ejected last Thursday.
Robinson was suspended for one game, missing Monday’s contest against Houston, while Rodriguez continues to pitch while his three-game suspension is under appeal.
“It was basically a warning: They have control of the game. It’s up to them. It’s what they feel about a certain pitch, and they don’t have to wait to put in a warning,” Robinson said. “Word is, there’s bad blood between the two ballclubs, and every time we play they’re going to put out a warning to the umpires.”
Pedro Martinez, who caused much of the controversy by hitting a career-high three batters in New York’s 10-5 win last week, starts for the Mets on Wednesday.
Martinez picked up the victory in that game, giving up four runs, four hits and five walks in six innings. He hit Jose Guillen twice, and the Nationals right fielder nearly charged the mound.
None of that occurred on Tuesday, when Mets rookie Brian Bannister picked up his first major league victory, allowing only three hits and one run in seven innings.
He was helped by Carlos Beltran, who hit a two-run homer off the facing of the upper deck. Beltran also homered in last Thursday’s game, which started the Mets’ four-game winning streak.
New York has outscored opponents 29-11 during the run.
“This is a team that is built to win,” said Bannister, whose father, Floyd, pitched in the majors. “I knew my role was to come in here and to lay low, to just eat up innings, to pitch any game they needed me to pitch, and to just give this team a chance to win every time. It wasn’t to come in here and take over the show.”
David Wright had a double and an RBI on Tuesday. The third baseman has an RBI in all six games, a team record to start the season.
The Nationals (2-6) will turn to Tony Armas to stop a three-game losing streak. Armas lost his first start on Friday, giving up two runs and four hits in five innings in a 6-1 defeat to Houston.
He is 5-3 with a 3.34 ERA in 10 games against the Mets.
Washington has been unable to generate any offense, with 21 of its 37 runs coming in its two victories. The Nationals have scored eight runs during the losing streak and Guillen is 3-for-18 since the last meeting with Martinez.
“He’s trying to do a little too much right now,” Robinson said.