Nationals vie to further bury reeling Mets
(Sports Network) - Jordan Zimmermann and National League East-leading Washington Nationals kick off a key seven-game road trip tonight in Queens when they take on the reeling New York Mets.
After losing the first two games of a four-game series with Atlanta over the weekend, the Nationals looked like they were in danger of surrendering the division lead. However, they rebounded nicely by closing the series with a pair of wins and leaving the series exactly where they began, 3 1/2 games ahead of the Braves.
Ryan Zimmerman crushed a pair of home runs on Sunday as the Nats routed Atlanta, 9-2. In 25 games since June 24, the third baseman has hit a scorching .392 with 11 homers and 12 RBI.
"Especially after the first couple games of this series...for us to come back and win both of those games, [Saturday] and [Sunday], and even this series out was huge," Zimmerman said.
"We didn't want (the Braves) coming into our house and leave with them feeling that good," manager Davey Johnson added when talking to the Nationals' website. "I gave them one Friday, and then they nipped us on Saturday morning, but I wasn't worried about the club. There's no letdown in this ball club."
The Mets sit third in the East, 8 1/2 games behind the Nationals, who own a 6-3 mark against New York in the season series after taking two of three meetings last week.
Zimmermann, who has a gaudy 2.35 earned run average this season, hurled six scoreless innings in a 4-3 Nats win last Wednesday over the Mets. The right- hander will be searching to win his third straight start and his fifth consecutive decision tonight. He's also been red-hot recently, not allowing a run in his last two starts and compiling an 0.84 ERA in his last five outings.
Zimmerman has also generally fared well against the Mets and is 3-2 with a 3.12 ERA in nine career starts versus New York.
The Mets have been sinking and have lost nine of 10 overall. Pinch-hitter Matt Treanor broke a 12th-inning tie with a two-run single on Sunday as the Los Angeles Dodgers completed a three-game sweep of New York with an 8-3 win at Citi Field.
The loss dropped the Mets (47-48) below .500 for the first time this season.
"It's very disappointing," admitted New York manager Terry Collins. "We're not happy with the way things have gone the last 10 days. We gotta buckle down and get after it and get back over (.500)."
It will be Chris Young's job to stop the bleeding tonight.
Young was the loser last week opposite Zimmermann but pitched well, allowing two runs on six hits in six innings in what was his third consecutive loss. Overall, Young is 3-2 with a 2.77 ERA in eight career starts against the Nationals.
07/23 11:06:20 ET