The New York Mets enter Memorial Day with the biggest lead of any first-place team in the majors this season.
They also have the confidence that comes from such a fast start.
The Mets will look to continue distancing themselves from the rest of the National League East on Monday night when they host the division rival Washington Nationals in the opener of a three-game series.
Left-hander David Peterson (2-0, 2.16 ERA) is slated to start for the Mets against right-hander Erick Fedde (3-3. 3.55).
The Mets earned their first series sweep of the season Sunday night when Nick Plummer hit a game-tying homer on the first pitch of the ninth inning and Eduardo Escobar delivered a walk-off RBI single in the 10th to lift New York to a 5-4 win over the visiting Philadelphia Phillies.
The Nationals, meanwhile, recorded their first series win at home Sunday by beating the Colorado Rockies 6-5 in the finale of a four-game set.
The Mets looked as if they might have to be content with merely winning another series when Nick Castellanos’ three-run homer in the eighth inning gave the Phillies a 4-3 lead.
But Plummer, who made his first big league start Sunday night, ensured his first career hit would be especially memorable by homering into the second deck in right field.
The ninth- and 10th-inning rallies by the Mets symbolized the resourcefulness they’ve displayed in going 12-2-1 in series play and opening an 8 1/2-game lead in the NL East — the largest division lead at Memorial Day in franchise history.
Plummer is filling the roster spot of fourth outfielder Travis Jankowski (metacarpal fracture) and started Sunday in place of Brandon Nimmo, who missed a second straight game with a sore wrist. And Escobar’s hit improved the Mets to 4-0 in extra-inning games this season.
“Just the mentality that we have — it happens because we believe in it,” Mets pitcher Chris Bassitt said. “Get us down a little bit, but we’re just not going to quit. Got to get 27 outs — or more — versus us. And it’s hard to do.”
The Nationals — who are 18-31 and further out of first place (14 games) than any team in the majors — are in the midst of a third straight trying season. But a productive weekend against the Rockies might have provided Washington something to build upon.
The Nationals, who scored 21 runs in their eight games prior to the Rockies arriving in town, outscored Colorado 28-18 in the four-game set. All-Star outfielder Juan Soto hit a two-run homer in the first, his first home run since May 12.
“He’s our best hitter,” Nationals manager Dave Martinez said. “We need him to hit. I need him to drive in runs. This team needs him to drive in runs. It’s going to come. And when it does come, it’s going to come in bunches.”
For the Mets, Peterson earned the win in his most recent outing last Monday when he gave up two runs over six innings in a 13-3 win over the San Francisco Giants.
The Nats’ Fedde was the winning pitcher Wednesday after allowing four hits over six scoreless innings in a 1-0 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Peterson is 2-0 with a 1.08 ERA in three career starts against the Nationals. Fedde is 0-3 with a 5.04 ERA in 14 games (nine starts) against the Mets.
–Field Level Media