Taijuan Walker, Mets look to bounce back vs. Nationals

MLB

Right-hander Taijuan Walker will try to snap a two-month winless drought on Sunday afternoon when the visiting New York Mets face the Washington Nationals.

Walker (7-9, 3.89 ERA) will make his 10th start since his last win, an 8-3 victory over New York Yankees on July 3 at Yankee Stadium. He has lost six consecutive decisions since then, including a 3-2 defeat to the San Francisco Giants in his last start on Aug. 25, when he gave up just two earned runs and two hits over six innings.

Walker, who made his first All-Star appearance after an impressive 7-3 start to the season, is 1-1 with a 3.50 ERA in three career starts against Washington, including 1-1 this season. He gave up three hits over seven shutout innings in a 4-0 victory over the visiting Nationals on April 25 but was tagged for four runs on 10 hits over 6 1/3 innings in a 5-2 loss on June 20 in D.C.

Right-hander Josiah Gray (0-2, 4.73 ERA), obtained from the Dodgers in the Max Scherzer and Trea Turner trade on July 30, will make his eighth major-league start and first against the Mets. He lost his last start to Philadelphia, 7-4, on Monday when he allowed six runs on seven hits over four innings.

It’s the fourth game of a five-game series between the Mets and Nationals, and if it’s anything like the first three games, it will go down to the wire.

New York (68-68) won Friday night’s opener, 6-2, in 10 innings after blowing a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the ninth. But that was just a warmup compared to what happened in the first game of Saturday’s doubleheader.

The Mets blew a 9-0 lead over the final four innings, with Andrew Stevenson hitting a two-run homer with two outs in the bottom of the seventh to tie it and force extra innings. But New York pulled out a 11-9 victory two innings later behind a two-run homer from Francisco Lindor.

Washington (56-79) bounced to back to win the nightcap 4-3 to snap a seven-game losing streak, with Alcides Escobar hitting what proved to be a game-winning two-run homer in the fifth.

It was just the eighth win in the last 32 games since the trade deadline for the Nationals. Left-hander Josh Rogers, making his Nationals debut and first major-league appearance since June 25, 2019, picked up the win, allowing three runs on four hits over 5 2/3 innings.

“He worked really, really quick,” said Nationals manager Dave Martinez. “I love that. He was getting the ball, getting on the mound; he’s ready to go again. He kept the guys engaged, which is nice. And he threw strikes, threw strikes when he had to. He gave them some energy tonight.”

The Mets placed center fielder Brandon Nimmo on the 10-day injured list with a right-hamstring strain between games. Nimmo, who was 2-for-2 in the opening contest, injured his leg in the second inning while rounding third on an inning-ending groundout by Michael Conforto.

“When I felt it, it surprised me,” said Nimmo. “It was when I ran around third base. Right before I hit the bag, I kind of felt a grab. I thought the next step or two might be just a normal thing. But I took the next step and started to feel it again. … Extremely frustrated.”

Mets manager Luis Rojas is keeping his fingers crossed that the injury won’t keep Nimmo, who is batting .302 with five homers and a .420 on-base percentage, out for the final four weeks of the season.

“We’ve got to see how he responds,” said Rojas. “This is a guy who takes a lot of care of himself. He’s one of the first guys on the field. He’s one of the last guys leaving because of how much he does to keep himself out there on the playing field.”

–Field Level Media

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