After finally digging a hole too deep to climb out of Wednesday night, the New York Mets will spend Thursday afternoon trying to avoid an experience they've dodged thus far this season -- losing a series.
The Mets will look to maintain their unbeaten series record when they visit the Washington Nationals in a matinee finale of a three-game set.
Taijuan Walker (0-0, 4.91 ERA) is slated to start for the Mets against Joan Adon (1-5, 6.99 ERA) in a battle of right-handers.
The Nationals earned an 8-3 win in the middle game of the series Wednesday night, when Juan Soto and Nelson Cruz homered against Tylor Megill to bookend an eight-run outburst over the first two innings.
With memories of a pair of big ninth-inning comebacks still fresh in their minds, the Mets weren't fazed by the early deficit Tuesday. New York scored five times in the ninth inning to beat the St. Louis Cardinals 5-2 on April 25, and they stunned the Philadelphia Phillies by scoring seven runs in the ninth -- the last four with two outs -- in an 8-7 victory on May 5.
However, while New York relievers Trevor Williams and Stephen Nogosek blanked the Nationals over the final 6 2/3 innings, the Mets -- who scored all their runs Wednesday in the top of the first -- couldn't get any closer against Aaron Sanchez and a trio of Washington relievers.
The Mets stranded two runners in the seventh, when Starling Marte lined out to leaping second baseman Cesar Hernandez for the final out. In the ninth, the Nationals' Paolo Espino retired the final three batters after allowing singles to Eduardo Escobar and Jeff McNeil.
The result put New York -- which went 8-0-1 in its first nine series -- in danger of absorbing a series loss.
"That well is hard to go to every time," Mets manager Buck Showalter said. "I kept thinking we might get back in it, but we just didn't string enough together."
The eight-run outburst against Megill -- who had allowed just nine runs in his first six starts combined -- continued a season-long all-or-nothing stretch for the Nationals, who have scored six runs or more nine times and two runs or fewer 12 times.
The eight runs in the first two innings were more than the Nationals scored in their previous 22 innings combined dating back to a 7-3 win over the Los Angeles Angels on Saturday.
"I told the guys: 'Hey, just chip away,' " Nationals manager Davey Martinez said. "'Just try to score. Come back with a score right away.' And they scored a lot more. It was awesome."
The Mets' comeback against the Phillies spared Walker the loss on May 5, when he gave up seven runs (six earned) over four innings. Adon took a defeat on Friday, when he gave up three runs over five innings as the Nationals fell 3-0 to the Angels.
Walker is 1-1 with a 5.24 ERA in four career starts against the Nationals. Adon made his lone appearance against the Mets on April 9, when he took the loss after allowing four runs over 4 1/3 innings in New York's 5-0 victory.
--Field Level Media