Major League Baseball

Mets aim to cool off surging Nationals

METS (69-67) AT NATIONALS (78-58)
1:05 p.m. ET; MASN, SNY, MLB.TV

The New York Mets, who had lost six straight games before taking two of three from the host Philadelphia Phillies over the weekend, aren’t ready to give up on making the playoffs as a National League wild-card team.

On Monday afternoon, the Mets will visit the Washington Nationals, who have won four straight games and own the best record in the majors since May 24.

The hot streak has positioned the Nationals atop the NL wild-card standings, making them one of five teams the Mets are chasing for two postseason berths.

New York is led by first baseman Pete Alonso, who slugged the 43rd homer of his season Sunday in the Mets’ 5-2 loss to the Phillies and is the front-runner for the NL Rookie of the Year award. Alonso already owns the NL rookie homer record, and he holds the single-season home run record for all Mets players.

Another Mets standout is Wilson Ramos, who has a career-best 25-game hit streak. Among players who primarily play catcher, it is the fourth-longest hit streak in major league history. Ramos is closing in on Benito Santiago’s record of 34 set in 1987.

“I feel awfully good at the plate,” said Ramos, who is also chasing Sandy Alomar Jr. (30 games) and John Flaherty (27 games).

Washington is led by its Nos. 3-4 hitters: third baseman Anthony Rendon and left fielder Juan Soto.

Rendon is hitting .337 with 32 home runs and a Nationals-record 111 RBIs after hitting a two-run homer Sunday in Washington’s 9-3 win over the visiting Miami Marlins.

Soto, who also belted a two-run shot Sunday, is hitting .298 with 31 homers and 95 RBIs.

Both players have helped change Washington’s fortunes after a 19-31 start.

“When we started enjoying the game and joking in the dugout, that’s when everything changed,” Soto said. “Dancing after homers — it’s amazing.”

Mets starter Noah Syndergaard (9-7, 4.14 ERA) will try to ensure the Nationals don’t dance on Monday as he will be opposed by fellow right-hander Joe Ross (3-3, 5.36).

Syndergaard is 1-1 with a 3.33 ERA in four starts against Washington this year, but he is coming off a nightmarish outing. After eight straight quality starts, Syndergaard allowed a career-high 10 runs (nine earned) on Wednesday against the Chicago Cubs. He gave up nine hits and three homers in three innings.

Meanwhile, this will be Ross’ first start against the Mets this year. In four relief appearances, however, he has a 10.80 ERA in 3 1/3 innings.

Ross has been inactive for a while. His last appearance was on Aug. 24, when he lasted just 4 1/3 innings against the Cubs, allowing two runs on six hits with four walks in a no-decision.

Both teams fortified their rosters on Sunday.

Among Washington’s biggest moves were activating first baseman Ryan Zimmerman, who then homered Sunday, and reliever Sean Doolittle, who has 28 saves this season. Zimmerman had a right foot injury. Doolittle had a right knee injury.

New York activated Brandon Nimmo, who can play all three outfield spots but had been out since May 20 due to a neck injury. He walked and scored a run as a pinch hitter on Sunday.

Nimmo had a breakout season last year with 28 doubles, eight triples, 17 homers, a .404 on-base percentage and an .886 OPS.

It’s also possible that Mets second baseman Robinson Cano, who has been out due to a torn left hamstring, will be activated in time for Monday’s game. He has been out since Aug. 4.

As for Nimmo, he said he had begun to doubt he would ever play again.

“To be back without pain and full range of motion,” Nimmo said, “I’m excited.”

–Field Level Media

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