The Washington Nationals aren’t facing much resistance from many teams this season – let alone the slumping New York Mets. With the best record in the majors, the host Nationals (74-45) will attempt to move a season-best 30 games over .500 on Saturday when they play the second contest of a three-game set versus their NL East rivals. Michael Morse belted his third career grand slam as Washington won for the 11th time in 13 games with a 6-4 triumph in the series opener on Friday.
The Mets, who fell to the Nationals for the 10th time in 13 meetings this season, have dropped eight of their last 11 overall. Saturday starter Jonathon Niese will look to change their fortunes as the left-hander has pitched at least six innings in his last 13 starts.
Mets Nationals Betting
When: 7:05 PM ET, Saturday, August 18, 2012
Where: Nationals Park, Washington, District of Columbia
TV: 7:05 p.m. ET, WPIX (New York), MASN (Washington)
PITCHING MATCHUP: Mets LH Jonathon Niese (9-6, 3.67 ERA) vs. Nationals RH Edwin Jackson (7-7, 3.74)
Niese has enjoyed considerable success versus Washington in his career, posting a 2-0 mark while recording a solid start in a no-decision on July 17. The 25-year-old allowed one run on three hits and walked eight over seven sizzling innings, but settled for a no-decision in an eventual 5-4 victory by the Nationals. Niese was solid in his last outing, permitting one run over eight innings in a victory over Atlanta on Sunday.
Jackson walked out a winner in his last outing, despite yielding five runs and walking three in 5 2/3 innings against Arizona last Saturday. The 28-year-old defeated New York for the first time in his career on June 6 – although he again struggled with his control. Jackson permitted three runs and walked four over seven innings in a 5-3 triumph.
1. New York’s Scott Hairston provided the lone bright spot with a trio of doubles and two runs scored on Friday. Hairston is 0-for-7 with a pair of strikeouts in his career versus Jackson.
2. Morse extended his hitting streak to 13 games with the grand slam on Friday. Morse is 3-for-12 with three doubles in his career against Niese.
3. New York’s Ruben Tejada continues to find a way to collect hits on the road. Tejada extended that streak to 16 games with a double in the fifth inning.