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Nationals aim to avoid opening 4-game sweep against Mets

Sportsnaut
Apr 9, 2022; Washington, District of Columbia, USA; New York Mets center fielder Starling Marte (6) celebrates with relief pitcher Adam Ottavino (0) after the game against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

The Washington Nationals will attempt to avoid a four-game sweep at the hands of the visiting New York Mets when the teams conclude their season-opening series on Sunday.

Four Mets pitchers combined for a four-hit shutout on Saturday in New York’s 5-0 win. The Nationals have lost their first three games for the first time since 2009, managing just four runs and 15 hits in the three defeats.

“If we were talking about the middle of the season, we wouldn’t be talking about this,” said Washington designated hitter Nelson Cruz, who is 1-for-12. “But since it’s the first three games, yeah, we definitely have to talk about it. We trust what we have.”

The Nationals will send right-hander Erick Fedde against Mets righty Carlos Carrasco in Sunday’s finale.

Fedde, 29, made a career-high 27 starts in 2021 and finished 7-9 with a 5.47 ERA. He made his final spring training start against the Mets and pitched 4 2/3 shutout innings while giving up two hits and striking out five.

In 13 career regular-season games against New York — eight of them starts — Fedde is 0-3 with a 5.19 ERA, including 0-2 with a 5.18 ERA in five starts last year.

Nationals manager Dave Martinez will be looking for Fedde to eat some innings and give a breather to a bullpen that has logged 14 2/3 innings thus far. Joan Adon lasted 4 1/3 on Saturday, leaving after Pete Alonso’s grand slam, which was preceded by a single and two walks.

“We got to go deeper in games,” Martinez said. “It’s three days now we couldn’t get out of the (fifth) inning. Adon was cruising, I thought he was doing well, but the walks. The walks and then one swing of the bat.”

Carrasco had a season to forget in 2021, tearing his right hamstring in spring training and not making his Mets debut until late July. He went 1-5 with a 6.04 ERA in 12 starts.

The 35-year-old veteran had offseason surgery to remove a bone chip from his right elbow and finished spring training with a strong effort, giving up two earned runs on four hits in 4 1/3 innings against the Houston Astros.

“It’s completely different right now,” Carrasco said. “Last year there was a lot of ups and downs with my hammy and all that stuff, but I came healthy to spring training so I feel ready. The elbow is great, even better than last year.”

Carrasco is 0-1 with a 9.00 ERA in three career games — two starts — against the Nationals.

On Saturday night, Alonso broke open a scoreless game and Chris Bassitt pitched six innings in his Mets debut. One of the highlights for Bassitt, acquired in a trade with the Oakland A’s at the start of spring training, was rallying from down 3-0 to strike out Washington slugger Juan Soto in the first inning.

“I don’t care who you are, I’m coming after you. I don’t care the name on the back of your jersey,” Bassitt said. “He’s probably the best hitter in the world. I don’t care.”

The Mets, 3-0 for the first time since 2012, got two hits and walk from both Travis Jankowski and Brandon Nimmo. Francisco Lindor went 1-for-3 with two walks one night after being hit in the face by a pitch and leaving the game.

–Field Level Media