The New York Mets damaged a division rival’s playoff hopes over the weekend. They won’t have such an opportunity in their next matchup.
Following a successful effort against a playoff contender in their last series, the Mets look to deal the lowly Washington Nationals their fifth straight defeat Monday night.
New York (67-89) opens this three-game series following a 4-0 win over Florida on Sunday, taking two of three from a team that needs a strong finish to have a shot at the postseason - and one that knocked the Mets from playoff contention the last two years.
“Things are so strange this year,” said Mets manager Jerry Manuel, whose team has endured an injury-plagued season.
The Mets now face another NL East opponent in the Nationals (52-103), owners of the worst record in the major leagues. Washington was swept by Atlanta over the weekend, losing the finale 6-3 in 10 innings Sunday, and has dropped 15 of 19.
“I’m not stupid; you can play a lot of close games and be a bad ballclub,” interim manager Jim Riggleman said. “But the difference between us and the other clubs is not that wide a gap.”
The Nationals went 0 for 8 with runners in scoring position in their last game, but they have a good opportunity to bounce back against scheduled Mets starter Nelson Figueroa(notes) (2-7, 4.88 ERA). The right-hander lost his last four starts, posting a 5.40 ERA during that span.
Figueroa was the victim of poor run support in his last outing, though, allowing two runs and two hits in seven innings of a 3-1 defeat to Atlanta on Tuesday night.
Figueroa is 1-2 with a 3.35 ERA in six starts versus the Nationals.
The left-hander gave up three runs in 5 2-3 innings before Washington came back to beat Los Angeles 5-4 on Wednesday night.
This will be his first appearance against the Mets.
New York is expected to have David Wright(notes) back in the lineup after Manuel benched him Sunday, a day after he loafed on the bases and perhaps cost the team a run. He apologized to teammates Saturday.
Wright batted .190 with 27 strikeouts in his last 20 games, but he has hit .409 in six road contests against the Nationals this season.
Jeff Francoeur(notes) provided the Mets with all the offense they needed Sunday, hitting a two-run shot for his 14th homer of the season. The right fielder, who also robbed the Marlins’ Chris Coghlan(notes) of a home run, went 7 for 17 with two homers and five RBIs in his last four games.
New York leads the season series 10-5.