Daniel Murphy has tormented his former team by hitting safely in each of the nine meetings this season. The 30-year-old looks to continue his hot hand on Thursday as his Washington Nationals invade Citi Field for the opener of a four-game showdown versus the National League East-rival New York Mets.
Murphy is a blistering 15-for-35 with four homers and 11 RBIs in nine contests against New York – including 5-for-12 with two blasts, five RBIs and four runs scored in Washington’s three-game sweep in the nation’s capital on June 27-29. The Mets have rebounded from those setbacks to win six of their last seven to reside four games behind the first-place Nationals, who salvaged the finale of a three-game set versus Milwaukee on Wednesday afternoon to post their eighth win in 11 outings. “It’s critical, because they’re chasing us, and we’re trying to put some distance on them,” Washington manager Dusty Baker told reporters of the upcoming series. Wilmer Flores recorded his second two-homer performance in four days in New York’s 4-2 triumph over Miami on Wednesday afternoon, improving to 9-for-17 with seven RBIs and six runs scored in his last four contests.
TV: 7:10 p.m. ET, MLB Network, MASN (Washington), SNY (New York)
Nationals – No relevant injuries to report.
Mets – SS A. Cabrera (Doubtful Thursday, personal), RP J. Henderson (15-Day DL, bicep), 1B L. Duda (15-Day DL, back), 3B D. Wright (60-Day DL, neck).
WEATHER REPORT: It could be a sketchy weather night in Queens. Very warm temperatures (mid 90’s), high humidity, a possibily of some devoloping thunderstorms, and a 75 percent chance of rain throughout the evening. Sounds fun.
HOT FAN BATTLE:
PITCHING MATCHUP: Nationals RH Lucas Giolito (0-0, 0.00 ERA) vs. Mets RH Bartolo Colon (7-4, 2.87)
Giolito handled New York in his major-league debut on June 28, but Mother Nature put an abrupt end to his outing after he allowed one hit over four scoreless innings. The 21-year-old’s lone blemish came at the hands of a bloop single by Curtis Granderson. Giolito relied on his mid-to-high 90s fastball and active curveball to subdue the Mets in the previous outing.
Colon improved to 4-1 with a 1.96 ERA in his last eight starts after permitting two runs on four hits in six innings of a 4-3 win over the Chicago Cubs on Saturday. The 43-year-old Dominican split a pair of decisions versus Washington in May, rebounding from issuing a season-high five walks in a 7-1 setback on May 18 to yield one run on five hits in seven innings of a 7-1 triumph five days later. Colon has kept Bryce Harper (3-for-16, five strikeouts) in check, but he’s had trouble retiring Jayson Werth (6-for-13 with four walks).
* Nationals are 1-7 in their last 8 road games.
* Mets are 10-1 in their last 11 home games vs. a team with a winning record.
* Mets are 5-1 in Colon’s last 6 starts.
* Over is 8-2 in Nationals last 10 road games vs. a right-handed starter.
* Under is 9-3 in the last 12 meetings in New York.
* Mets are 0-4 in Colon’s last 4 home starts vs. Nationals.
COVERS CONSENSUS: The Covers public is favoring the home favorite New York Mets at a rate of 52 percent and Over 8.0 is picking up 60 percent of the totals wagers. View full consensus data here.