All eyes were on Matt Harvey Friday night.
The Mets (32-44) and Nationals (40-39) have squared off six times this year. On three occasions, the Mets bullpen has pitched scoreless baseball and New York has won. In the other three games, New York’s bullpen has given up multiple runs and the Mets have lost. Overall, the relievers have posted a 6.32 ERA against Washington this season.
On Friday, the bullpen couldn’t hold on after another dominant outing from Harvey and the Nationals rallied from a 4-1 deficit, getting a three-run double by Ryan Zimmerman and a go-ahead double from Ian Desmond in a 6-4 victory.
Desmond enters Saturday among the league leaders with eight home runs in June. His homer in the fifth inning Friday broke up what had been a perfect game from Harvey and he has now gone deep in consecutive games. Zimmerman has doubled in three straight.
“Everybody’s been down on what they’re capable of doing,” Washington manager Davey Johnson said. “This is a good jump start.”
Washington, which entered Friday having lost 13 of 19 on the road while hitting .199 during that stretch, will look for several other players to emerge Saturday. Anthony Rendon is 0 for his last 9 but managed a critical eight-inning walk in the opener. Jayson Werth who entered Friday’s ninth inning having struck out in seven of his last 12 at-bats, ignited his team’s winning rally with a leadoff double.
The Nationals could use the support to guide Taylor Jordan through his major league debut. The 24-year-old right-hander drew plenty of attention with his 9-1 start to the minor league season. Beginning 2013 with Class A Potomac, he was quickly promoted to Double-A Harrisburg, where he was 7-0 with a 0.83 ERA.
“I think the one thing that stands out the most is his fastball command,” Harrisburg manager Matt LeCroy told the Nationals’ official website. “He has another thing he does really well. He slows the game down and takes it one pitch at a time, and that’s something that’s hard to teach.”
Opposing Jordan is the Mets’ Dillon Gee (5-7, 4.82 ERA), who is coming off a disappointing start in Philadelphia. After a rough start to the year, he had been pitching his best baseball, with a 3-1 record and a 1.53 ERA in 29 1-3 innings heading into last Saturday. Gee, though, allowed six runs - including three homers - in five innings but escaped without a decision in an 8-7 loss.
“I had nothing I could command,” Gee said. “It was just a bad day. I was all over the place and they made me pay for it. I just have to pick up the pieces and hopefully start another roll.”
Gee has fared well against Washington, going 5-1 with a 2.70 ERA. Those five wins are his most against any opponent. In his latest matchup versus the Nationals on June 5, the right-hander, who has received 24 runs of support in his other 14 starts this season, cruised through seven innings of one-run ball in a 10-1 win.
Ever since Gee’s last start against Washington, David Wright has been on a tear, with a .384 batting average and nine multi-hit performances in 20 games.