Mets face Nationals, aim for second series win in August

National Sports

The 2021 season hasn’t gone as Michael Conforto and the New York Mets had hoped. But on Saturday night, a much-needed homer by Conforto at least gave him and his teammates a rare reason to smile.

The Mets will look to earn just their second series win of the month on Sunday afternoon when they host the Washington Nationals in the finale of a three-game set.

Tylor Megill (1-3, 4.07 ERA) is slated to pitch for the Mets against Erick Fedde (6-8, 4.91) in a battle of right-handers.

Conforto hit the first pinch-hit homer of his seven-year career Saturday night, when his three-run shot in the seventh inning put the Mets ahead and vaulted them to a 5-3 win.

The victory snapped a four-game losing streak for the Mets and provided some relief to Conforto, an impending free agent who missed five weeks earlier this season with a right-hamstring injury. He is hitting just .218 with nine homers and 33 RBIs in 94 games this season. That’s as many homers and two more RBIs than he had in 54 games during the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, when he batted .322.

Conforto acknowledged he’s thought about the possibility he could be playing his final weeks in the Big Apple but said he’s concentrating on helping the Mets snap out of their extended spiral. New York was in first place in the National League East every day from May 9 through Aug. 5 but has gone 7-19 this month to fall into third place, 7 1/2 games behind the first-place Atlanta Braves.

New York’s lone series win was a three-game sweep of the Nationals from Aug. 10-12.

“To be honest with you, the thought has crossed my mind, but it’s not something that I’m focused on,” Conforto said of his free agency. “Right now I’m just really focused on grinding it out with my teammates. We’re all in this together, and to be honest with you, it hasn’t been fun the last couple weeks. We’re a team (that) we feel like is a playoff team, and we haven’t been playing that way.”

The Nationals acknowledged they no longer were in the race by dealing away eight players at the trade deadline, but one of their few remaining veterans, shortstop Alcides Escobar, continued his impressive late-season audition Saturday.

Escobar didn’t play in the majors the previous two seasons and was with the Kansas City Royals’ Triple-A affiliate before the Nationals purchased him July 3. He collected three hits, including an RBI single. The 34-year-old also stole a base and made two defensive gems to rob Jonathan Villar and Brandon Nimmo of hits.

“He was really good tonight,” Nationals manager Dave Martinez said. “He’s a good, solid player, and right now he’s playing well.”

Megill took the loss Tuesday night when he gave up seven runs over 3 2/3 innings as the Mets fell to the San Francisco Giants 8-0. Fedde earned the win Tuesday after surrendering one run and striking out a career-high 10 over 6 1/3 innings in the Nationals’ 5-1 victory over the Miami Marlins.

Megill has yet to face the Nationals. Fedde is 0-2 with a 4.29 ERA in 11 career games (six starts) against the Mets.

–Field Level Media

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