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Defense has Mets in position for series win over Nats

Sportsnaut
May 10, 2022; Washington, District of Columbia, USA; New York Mets relief pitcher Edwin Diaz (39) is congratulated by catcher James McCann (33) after earning a save against the Washington Nationals  at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Mets have done all the little things on their way to reaching big numbers faster than any National League team.

The visiting Mets will look to lock up another series win Wednesday night when they oppose the Washington Nationals in the middle game of a three-game set between the NL East rivals.

Tylor Megill (4-1, 2.43 ERA) is scheduled to start for the Mets against Aaron Sanchez (1-2, 8.56) in a battle of right-handers.

The Mets won the series opener 4-2 on Tuesday night as Carlos Carrasco tossed 6 2/3 strong innings and James McCann’s tiebreaking sacrifice fly in the sixth inning capped a three-run rally.

New York — which is 8-0-1 through its first nine series this season and has an NL-high 21 wins — displayed good fundamentals both before and after taking the lead on Tuesday.

With two outs and two on in the fourth inning, Washington’s Maikel Franco doubled to deep right, scoring Josh Bell with the game’s first run. However, Yadiel Hernandez, trying to score from first, was thrown out following a perfect set of relays from right fielder Starling Marte to second baseman Jeff McNeil to McCann, who caught the ball with Hernandez still at least 15 feet from the plate.

The Mets erased the 2-0 deficit in the sixth when they scored three times despite collecting just one extra-base hit — McNeil’s game-tying, two-run double.

Once in front, New York shined on defense again.

Mets shortstop Francisco Lindor robbed Franco of a hit with a sprawling dive in the seventh, an inning that ended with McCann throwing out Dee Strange-Gordon trying to steal second. In the eighth, New York third baseman Eduardo Escobar, who was positioned near the shortstop spot in a shift, raced close to the visiting dugout to snare an inning-ending popup by Juan Soto.

“Just have players that embrace that — they came with that skill set,” Mets manager Buck Showalter said. “‘Mac’ had a great night. Great baserunning. Great tags. We had a big relay, and (Escobar) made a big catch of a popup out of the shift. And I know I’m going to forget five or six things.”

The loss Tuesday continued a frustrating and mistake-filled season for the Nationals, who have lost five of six and have the second-worst record in the NL, ahead of only the Cincinnati Reds.

The Mets’ final run in the ninth was unearned thanks to a throwing error by third baseman Franco — the 25th error of the season for the Nationals, who are tied with the Arizona Diamondbacks for the third-most errors in baseball. Washington’s pitchers also have posted the third-highest ERA (4.85) while issuing the second-most walks (127, including seven on Tuesday).

“We’ve got to limit the mistakes,” Nationals manager Dave Martinez said. “We’re shooting ourselves in the foot every time we go out there, and we’ve got so many walks and so many errors. We’ve just got to clean that up.”

Megill absorbed his first loss of the season in his most recent start, when he allowed three runs over 5 1/3 innings as the Mets fell 9-2 to the Atlanta Braves on May 4.

Sanchez took a defeat on Thursday, when he gave up seven runs (six earned) over 4 1/3 innings as the Nationals fell 9-7 to the Colorado Rockies.

Megill is 2-1 with a 3.38 ERA in three career starts against the Nationals. Sanchez has never opposed the Mets.

–Field Level Media