The Washington Nationals entered Monday with a crucial three-game set against the division rival New York Mets. Barely hanging onto a two-game lead in the National League East, the Nationals knew the importance of coming away with a series win, possibly a sweep of the offensively inept Metropolitans.
One thing was missing from the equation. Star pitcher Max Scherzer was not lined up to take down the Mets. Instead, Washington rolled out Gio Gonzalez Monday, followed by rookie Joe Ross on Tuesday and Jordan Zimmermann in the final game Wednesday.
The Mets on the other hand were rolling were their big guns in a series more crucial for them than for the Nationals. Matt Harvey got the start Monday. He will be followed by All-Star Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard or as they call him in New York, Thor, on Wednesday.
Well, Washington took care of business Monday, scoring five runs (four earned) off of Harvey and won game one 7-2. Recently, it seems as if a teams scores three or four runs off the Mets, the game is effectively over.
Now, the Nationals look to take down the Mets lone All-Star and ace of the staff in deGrom. It will be no easy task, but if the Nationals can steal the second game of this three-game set, they are in prime position to sweep New York with Zimmermann on the hill and take a commanding five-game lead in the division.
At the beginning of the season, everyone thought the Nationals would run away with the division and many thought of them as World Series favorites. However, with injuries to key everyday players and in their rotation, we have yet to see a fully healthy Washington team. Still, the Nationals are in a great position to separate themselves from the pack and jump out to a big division lead.
A sweep of the Mets might even bury New York’s hope of winning the division. If Bryce Harper and company can bring out the bats and get to deGrom like they did Harvey, the Mets are in for another long night and another season of disappointment. The Mets and their fans are holding on hope for a division title and a playoff in Queens but the Nationals are ready to eliminate all thought of that with wins the next two days and a three-game sweep in the nation’s capital.