The Washington Nationals have benefited from the home-run ball to seize the first three contests against the New York Mets while keeping within shouting distance of the second wild card. The Nationals vie for their eighth win in nine outings on Thursday afternoon when they wrap up a four-game series versus the host Mets. Ryan Zimmerman belted his team's ninth homer of the set and rookie Anthony Rendon ripped a two-run double as Washington cruised to a 3-0 triumph Wednesday.
Despite winning 22 of their last 31 contests, the Nationals remain six games behind Cincinnati in the race for the second wild card with 17 to play. While Washington's offense has been sizzling, New York has been rendered powerless of late. The Mets have been shut out twice in the series and mustered just five runs in the last four contests.
TV: 1:10 p.m. ET, MASN (Washington), SNY (New York)
PITCHING MATCHUP: Nationals RH Tanner Roark (5-0, 0.94 ERA) vs. Mets RH Aaron Harang (5-11, 5.76)
Roark certainly represented himself well in his first major-league start, scattering four hits over six scoreless innings against Miami on Saturday. The 26-year-old has yet to allow a homer in 28 2/3 innings this season while boasting an 0.87 WHIP and 23-to-7 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Roark has face the Mets in a relief role Aug. 31, securing a no-decision after permitting one run on three hits in 3 1/3 innings.
Harang, recalled from Triple-A Las Vegas last week, will make his Mets' debut. The 35-year-old struggled in 22 starts with Seattle this season, recording a 1.34 WHIP and an 87-to-28 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Harang owns a 1-3 career mark versus Washington, but has allowed the Nationals to bat a whopping .324 against him.
1. Washington CF Denard Span, who is riding a career-best 22-game hitting streak, is batting .337 in his career versus the Mets.
2. New York RF Juan Lagares snapped an 0-for-12 drought with a pair of singles Wednesday.
3. Nationals LF Bryce Harper legged out an infield hit on Wednesday after missing four games with an ailing hip.
PREDICTION: Nationals 4, Mets 2