Mets-Nationals Preview

The Associated Press

The New York Mets are one of the worst offensive teams in baseball, and that's been evident of late.

It may not improve against the Washington Nationals, either.

The visiting Mets look to break out of their latest funk at the plate while trying to snap an eight-game losing streak to the Nationals in the opener of this three-game set Friday night.

New York (19-21) is batting .229, tying AL-worst Houston while ranking only better than San Diego's .221. The Mets have also been shut out six times, which trails only the Padres' seven.

New York, though, gained ground on that dubious mark by following Wednesday's 4-0 home loss to the New York Yankees with a 1-0 defeat a day later to split the four-game, two-venue Subway Series.

The Mets are five innings shy of their season-high 23 consecutive scoreless innings from May 5-7, which also was the Mets' longest such streak since going 24 from July 15-17, 2010.

They haven't been blanked in three straight games since July 1992.

The offense has done little to inspire hope of avoiding a similar fate, totaling seven hits over the past two games. The Mets also own a .199 average during their skid to Washington (21-19), losing two of those games via shutout.

David Wright had four hits with one homer and three RBIs as New York was swept in a three-game season-opening series at home by the Nationals. However, he went 0 for 8 in the shutout losses to the Yankees after batting .392 while plating 10 runs during an 11-game hitting streak.

Despite the Mets' recent struggles with Washington, Jonathon Niese (2-2, 2.17 ERA) is 3-0 with a 2.47 ERA in seven career starts against the NL East rival. That includes a 1.67 ERA while winning both decisions over five road meetings.

The left-hander owns the Mets' lowest ERA, and enters this visit to the nation's capital 2-0 with a 1.69 ERA over his past four starts. Although, he hasn't received a decision in his last two, while being backed by four total runs.

He got one run of support Sunday, allowing three with six strikeouts in six innings before the Mets rallied for a 5-4 win over Philadelphia.

"I really don't care where my wins and losses are - just as long as the team's winning, that's fine with me," Niese told the team's official website.

The Nationals are returning home following a 2-4 trip, which was capped Wednesday by a four-run ninth inning to spur a 5-1 win at Arizona.

"We needed this one," manager Matt Williams said. "It salvages the road trip. It started off really bad and it's nice to get this one and head home on a positive note."

Giving the ball to Tanner Roark (2-1, 3.65) at home may help since he hasn't allowed a run in 22 2-3 innings while going 2-0 over three starts at home dating to last season. That includes a three-hitter in a 4-0 win over San Diego on April 26.

The second-year right-hander, however, followed that by surrendering a career-high seven runs and two homers in four innings of a 7-2 loss at Philadelphia on May 3.

He was much better a week later, yielding one run and two hits while leaving with two outs in the eighth inning of a 4-3 loss in 10 at Oakland.

Roark has won both of his starts against the Mets on the road.

What to Read Next