Fading Mets hope to reverse fortunes against Nationals

National Sports

Embarking upon a rebuilding project has served to remind the Washington Nationals that winning games isn’t easy. Perhaps no team knows that more these days than the New York Mets, whose stunning descent from the top of the National League East shows little sign of abating anytime soon.

The Nationals will look to extend the Mets’ lengthy slump Saturday night, when the NL East rivals are scheduled to meet in the middle game of a three-game series.

Left-hander Sean Nolin (0-2, 9.00 ERA) is slated to start for the Nationals against right-hander Marcus Stroman (9-12, 2.85 ERA).

Juan Soto and Josh Bell collected RBIs in the third inning Friday night, when five Nationals pitchers combined on a four-hitter in a 2-1 win over the Mets.

The victory was the fifth in nine games for the Nationals, who preceded this current stretch by going 5-19 from July 21 to Aug. 15. That span included the departures via trades of eight players — including Yan Gomes, Max Scherzer and Trea Turner, all of whom won the World Series with Washington in 2019.

Five of the Nationals’ starters Friday were younger than 26 years old, and a sixth is just a few days past that mark. All five pitchers to appear are 28 years or older, but only closer Kyle Finnegan entered this season with at least one year of service time under his belt.

“We try not to focus too much on the outcomes,” said Finnegan, who earned his sixth save with a hitless ninth. “But when they go your way, it’s fun. And it should be fun, because these wins are hard and any time you’re able to get one, you should enjoy it.”

The Mets haven’t enjoyed much in August. They have gone 6-19 while losing a whopping 12 1/2 games in the standings – from atop the division and four games in front of the Atlanta Braves to third, 8 1/2 behind the Braves.

Compounding the Mets’ misery is the narrow manner of most of the losses. New York is 3-13 in games decided by two or fewer runs this month and has lost its last eight one-run games dating back to Aug. 13.

“When we lose a game like this, they are frustrated,” Mets manager Luis Rojas said. “I think it’s just normal for the guys after a tough loss like this and all the ones we had, with a close margin, to feel that way.”

Nolin took the loss in his most recent start on Sunday, when he gave up three runs over four innings as the Nationals fell to the Milwaukee Brewers, 7-3. Stroman earned the win Sunday after surrendering two runs over six innings as the Mets beat the Los Angeles Dodgers, 7-2.

Nolin lost his only career start against the Mets on Aug. 12, when he opposed Stroman and allowed four runs over three innings as the Nationals fell to the Mets, 4-1, in the opener of a doubleheader. That outing was Nolin’s first major league appearance since Oct. 3, 2015.

Stroman is 1-1 with a 5.28 ERA in three starts against the Nationals.

–Field Level Media

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