Mets Top Nationals for 6th straight win as daunting schedule looms

The varsity portion of the schedule has arrived, the stretch that will likely determine whether the Mets can moonwalk to the NL East crown or have to sweat to get there.

They’ve spent most of the first third of the season fighting back against the National League’s weak underbelly, getting fat in their pathetic division that no other team includes over .500, and manipulating overwhelmed JV opponents. Of their 52 games, only 14 have played against teams over .500, although it should be noted that the Mets have won nine of those contests.

That will change in the next three weeks. Beginning Thursday with a 10-game trip to the West Coast that will take them to California to take on powerhouse Dodgers, rival Padres and surprise Angels. They return home to meet the NL Central-leading Brewers and also have two two-game streaks with the powerful Astros in the coming weeks.

Mets starter Carlos Carrasco navigated five shutout innings to earn the win over the Nationals on Wednesday.
Mets starter Carlos Carrasco navigated five shutout innings to earn the win over the Nationals on Wednesday.
Robert Sabo

They’re entering this daunting stretch on a high, and are on a season-best six-game winning streak in the West after their 5-0 win over the Nationals Wednesday afternoon at Citi Field, which completed their first perfect homestand since 2015. They improved to 35-17 and extended their huge lead in the NL East to an impressive 11 games over the Braves.

The Mets outperformed the Phillies and Nationals in that run with a combined 49-17, the offense exploded and the pitching staff held their own despite the devastated nature of the starting rotation. In that last win, the offense was somewhat dormant given recent outbursts, but that didn’t matter. Carlos Carrasco and three assists combined for a six-hit shutout, the Mets’ ninth-ranked finish in the major leagues for the season and second in as many days.

It was an arduous five innings for Carrasco. He never fixed the site once. The Nationals had multiple runners on base in three different innings. He went a season high five and three straight bats in the third inning, but Carrasco could still pull it off without conceding a run.

He made big pitches at big spots, such as hitting Yadiel Hernandez with loaded bases in the third inning after throwing 11 straight balls, baiting Dee Strange-Gordon to an inning-ending double play in the fourth and Hernandez on one weak Grounder brought up two in front of the plate to end his outing.

Catcher Tomas Nido had a career-high four hits and went 4-for-4 with three RBIs in the Mets' win over the Nationals.
Catcher Tomas Nido had a career-high four hits and went 4-4 with three RBIs in the Mets’ win over the Nationals on Wednesday.
Robert Sabo

The Mets broke through in the fourth against Nationals rookie Evan Lee on Tomas Nido’s run-scoring single. Two runs scored the game, Luis Guillorme coming around completely from the start when Strange-Gordon launched the ball. Francisco Lindor made it 3-0 in game seven with a sacrifice fly, extending his RBI streak to a career-best 10 games. Nido ended the one-sided win with a two-run double in game eight, capping the first four-hit game of his career.

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