MLB: Nats on upswing, while Mets try to halt recent funk

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The Washington Nationals have been trending up recently while the New York Mets have been going in the wrong direction.

They’ll face each other in a series for the second time this season, beginning the four-game stretch Friday night in Washington.

The Nationals have won three of their last four games. They’re coming off Wednesday’s 11-6 victory at San Francisco, where they produced a season-high run total.

“I hope it keeps going, because when we’re scoring runs early and often, we’re a really good team,” Nationals pitcher Josiah Gray said.

The Mets lost 5-0 on Thursday afternoon at Cincinnati, marking their ninth loss in their last 12 games.

New York has scored two or fewer runs in six of its last eight games.

“It’s tough because we know our guys are capable of a lot better offensively,” Mets manager Buck Showalter said. “It’s frustrating for everybody. You’ve got to make your luck sometimes.”

If there was a downside for the Nationals this week, it was that third baseman Jeimer Candelario departed with a sore ankle based on a slide Wednesday.

“We’ll see how he feels come Friday,” Washington manager Davey Martinez said.

Candelario, who homered earlier in the season against the Mets, is batting 4-for-30 this month. His homer in the series at New York was his lone hit in a 1-for-14 series.

Left-hander MacKenzie Gore (3-2, 3.65 ERA) will start for the Nationals on Friday night. He has gone six innings in three of his last four starts, averaging 7.5 strikeouts in those four outings.

Gore got the win against the Mets on April 26, going six innings and allowing one run. Washington won 4-1 with Gore striking out 10 and relievers upping the staff’s strikeout total to 15.

Combined with Gray logging seven innings Wednesday and Thursday’s day off, Washington’s pitching should be in good shape for this series. Nationals starters have lasted at least six innings in the past three games.

“It’s about pounding the strike zone and not giving any free passes,” Martinez said.

The Mets have right-hander Tylor Megill (3-2, 4.33) slated as their starter. He has failed to complete five innings in two of his last three starts. Those have been hindered by control issues as he has yielded seven walks with 10 strikeouts across those stints.

Megill has faced the Nationals five times across the previous two seasons, notching a 2-2 record with 6.52 ERA.

New York dropped two of three meetings with the Nationals last month at home, with the lone victory coming in the series finale by scoring the tying and winning runs in the eighth inning.

“We’ve got to figure it out,” Showalter said. “Guys are pushing, sometimes to a fault. You’ve got to dwell on the next game.”

The Mets put catcher Tomas Nido on the injured list Wednesday due to dry-eye syndrome. Michael Perez was called up from Triple-A Syracuse to fill in, but he wasn’t used Thursday and hasn’t played in the majors since last August.

–Field Level Media

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