Mets(courtesy of mlb.com)
The Mets and Nationals may be tied in the standings, but one major difference between the two teams has been how they’ve performed when a series is tied. Entering Wednesday afternoon’s rubber game, Washington is 5-1 and New York 0-5, respectively, in rubber games this season. Those records include the Nats’ 5-2 win over the Mets in the finale of their first series in early April.
The Mets, meanwhile, are 18-15 and tied for second in the NL East even though they have yet to win any rubber games in 2010, which has been a problem dating back to last season. New York started last year 0-4 in rubber games and finished it 7-11. Dropping rubber games prevented the Mets from building any series-to-series momentum.
The Mets do, however, have some momentum heading into Wednesday’s contest after their late-inning comeback on Tuesday. With six runs in the eighth, the Mets won their 14th home game of the season — tops in the NL. New York has won its past four series at Citi Field, dating back to, well, the Nationals’ last visit to the park in April.
Mike Pelfrey may not be considered the Mets’ ace just yet, but the right-hander has certainly been the team’s stopper. Pelfrey has taken the mound three times for the Mets following a loss, and the team has won all three games. Pelfrey himself is 2-0 in those contests, allowing five earned runs in 20 1/3 innings. And that doesn’t include perhaps Pelfrey’s most memorable role as a stopper this season, when he came in to close out a 20-inning victory over the Cardinals. In his start last Friday against the Giants, Pelfrey showed no ill effects from the shoulder pain that had led him to get an MRI earlier in the week; Pelfrey recorded a season-high 7 1/3 innings against San Francisco.
Angel Pagan, CF
Alex Cora, 2B
Jose Reyes, SS
Jason Bay, LF
David Wright, 3B
Ike Davis, 1B
Jeff Francoeur, RF
Rod Barajas, C
Mike Pelfrey, RHP
Nationals(courtesy of mlb.com)
Craig Stammen will attempt to carry the momentum from his improved last outing into Wednesday’s start against the Mets. Stammen’s most recent two starts came against the Marlins, but that was about all they had in common. Stammen lasted just four innings on May 1 in Florida, allowing four runs (three earned) in picking up his only loss of the season. Last Friday, Stammen was much better, lasting 6 2/3 innings and giving up just two runs (one earned) on four hits. He added a career-high eight strikeouts.
“Things went my way a little bit better this time; I made some better pitches in certain moments,” Stammen said. “I lasted a little longer at least. I had a good curveball. I used my sinker a lot more than last time, and that was pretty good.”
Washington’s series win in Flushing a month ago is just part of its impressive start on the road in 2010. The Nationals will be trying for their third win in their first five road series, and they’re 7-7 away from Nationals Park after a two-season stretch in which they went 51-111 in visiting gray.
The Nationals didn’t win their seventh game on the road last season until June 17 — their 31st road game of the season. Furthermore, even after Tuesday’s loss, Washington has tied its best start through 33 games since moving from Montreal.
Washington has managed to stay above .500 this season because of its success in close games and series finales. Those two haven’t been mutually exclusive.
The Nats are 8-3 in one-run contests this season, and four of their five wins in rubber games have come by a single run. The past three, in fact, have come by the score of 3-2.
Nyjer Morgan, CF
Adam Kennedy, 2B
Ryan Zimmermann, 3B
Adam Dunn, 1B
Christian Guzman, SS
Willie Harris, LF
Roger Bernadina, RF
Wil Nieves, C
Craig Stammen, RHP