New York’s Mets were reeling when they arrived in the nation’s capital, having lost six straight and nine of their last ten overall.
Dusty Baker and the Washington Nationals knew they had an opportunity to kick the Mets while they were down, but in his pregame press conference before the start of the series, Baker said he knew the Nats were in for a fight with a desperate team.
“You always want to pad the lead,” Baker said.
“And you realize that these guys, you can tell how Terry Collins is managing them, he’s doing everything he can to win every game to stay close in the race.
“So this is definitely going to be a good series and a good fight, because these guys were in the World Series a couple of years ago, they’re not going to give up.
“It’s up to us to just go out and play and play ball.
“Satchel Paige told his guys, ‘Sit down,’ a long time ago. So if you pitch it can always make it tough on you, so and these guys definitely can pitch.”
Jacob deGrom put together a solid outing for the Mets on Friday night, holding the Nationals to three runs on six hits in seven innings, with five scoreless frames after surrendering three in the second, and Travis d’Arnaud took Nationals’ starter Max Scherzer deep twice in what ended up a 7-5 win.
The Nationals jumped out to an early lead on Saturday, but Michael Conforto hit two home runs, one off Stephen Strasburg and another off Enny Romero to put the Mets ahead 3-1 in the fifth and 4-2 in the eighth in the 5-3 win for New York.
Considering how rough a run the Mets were on coming in, Baker was asked after the second-straight loss if he considered it a missed opportunity.
“No, not really because they had deGrom on the mound too,” Baker said. “deGrom and then they got [Noah] Syndergaard tomorrow.
“I told you before the series started that they were reeling, but at the same time, a good pitched game can stop your reeling.”
“They’re pulling out all the stops, they’re using [Addison] Reed [three] days in a row,” Baker added, “using [Jeurys] Familia three days in a row, and I don’t when the next day is, but they’re counting on Syndergaard to go deep in the ballgame tomorrow.
“The last couple days, even though we had these guys on the mound, they’ve hit the ball out of the ballpark, and that’s what they’re know for, I think they were second in the league last year in hitting the ball out of the ballpark and so if you don’t make quality pitches on them, or if you make a mistake, they’re known to hit the ball out of the ballpark.”
The biggest blow of the weekend might have come Friday night, however, when Adam Eaton suffered what is apparently a season-ending injury on an infield hit, running out a grounder and taking an awkward final step as he lunged for the first base bag.
Before word of the extent of the injury (a torn ACL in his left leg) leaked, Baker talked to reporters about the plan for center field while Eaton was out.
Michael A. Taylor would get the first opportunity, Baker said, but would need to prove himself after struggling when given chances to claim the center field role in the past.
Were there any thoughts of putting Bryce Harper in center with Eaton out?
“No, man,” Baker said.
Trea Turner, who played center last season when Taylor and Ben Revere struggled?
“You leave Bryce alone and fill in the blanks elsewhere. I don’t know where you come up with that,” Baker joked.
The reporter in question said someone asked if he thought either might be an option.
“Well, you tell them they’re crazy. You tell them leave my team alone.”
Joe Ross will take the mound for the Nationals opposite Syndergaard this afternoon as they try to avoid a sweep, a weekend after they swept the Mets in Citi Field.