MLB Baseball

Final 1 2 3   4 5 6   7 8 9   R H E
Washington0 0 3 0 3 0 0 0 0 660
NY Mets0 1 0 0 5 1 0 0 x 7122
  W: C. Bradford (2-0)   L: J. Blanton (2-4)   S: J. Familia (4)
4:10 PM PT5:10 PM MT6:10 PM CT7:10 PM ET19:10 ET23:10 GMT7:10 4:10 PM MST6:10 PM EST6:40 PM VEN3:10 UAE (+1)6:10 PM CT, September 22, 2017
Citi Field, Flushing, New York  Attendance: 28,095

Nationals, Mets renew rivalry at Citi Field

NEW YORK -- The standings tell the story of the divergent paths taken this season by the Washington Nationals and New York Mets, the two teams that were expected to battle each other all season for the National League East crown. But the Nationals and host Mets will get more reminders Friday night, when they square off in the opener of a three-game series at Citi Field.

Washington's Edwin Jackson (5-6, 4.77 ERA in 11 starts with the Nationals) will oppose New York's Robert Gsellman (7-7, 5.22 ERA) in a matchup of right-handers who have experienced different results while being thrust into bigger roles than expected because of injuries to more established members of their respective rotations.

Both teams are coming off losses in their most recent games. The NL East champion Nationals fell to the host Atlanta Braves 3-2 on Thursday night. Washington (92-60) is 4 1/2 games behind the Los Angeles Dodgers in the race for the No. 1 seed in the NL.

The visiting Mets lost to the Miami Marlins 9-2 on Wednesday to complete a three-game sweep in which they were outscored 27-7. New York (65-87), which made the World Series in 2015 and reached the NL wild card game last year, has the fifth-worst record in baseball.

Jackson will be looking to snap a three-start losing streak -- he took the defeat in his most recent appearance Sept. 15 after giving up seven runs over 2 1/3 innings as the Nationals fell to the Dodgers, 7-0 -- that has dampened an otherwise resurgent season.

The 34-year-old journeyman, who has played for 12 teams in a 15-season career, has a 12.71 ERA in three September starts, but that stretch came after he opened his second stint in Washington by recording a 2.94 ERA in his first eight starts following his promotion from Triple-A Syracuse on July 18 to replace injured right-hander Joe Ross.

"I've worked too hard to let a couple starts affect me and I've worked too hard to finish the season up like this," Jackson told reporters afterward. "So I'll definitely continue to work and be ready to bounce back and finish the season up strong like I started."

Gsellman is coming off his best start of the year Sunday, when he earned the win after allowing an unearned run over seven innings as the Mets beat the Atlanta Braves, 5-1. The innings pitched tied a season high for Gsellman, who allowed two runs or fewer for just the fifth time in 20 starts.

Gsellman, one of only two Mets pitchers to make 20 starts this season, is 2-1 with a 3.18 ERA in three starts since he was recalled from Triple-A Las Vegas on Sept. 1. The strong stretch has given New York reason to believe Gsellman, who went 4-2 with a 2.42 ERA in eight games (seven starts) during his first trip to the bigs late last season, could maximize the potential he showed at this time a year ago.

"He is being challenged by something, as he hasn't had the kind of year that he anticipated," Mets manager Terry Collins told reporters Sunday. "Right now, he has to show us he can be one of those guys again. Today, he showed us that he could."

Of course, in keeping with the theme of the Mets' injury-wrecked season, Gsellman is pitching Friday because ace right-hander Jacob deGrom was scratched because of a stomach ailment. DeGrom, one of only two players on the Opening Day 25-man roster who has remained active and in the majors all season, is expected to start Sunday's series finale.

The Nationals got better injury-related news Thursday, when manager Dusty Baker said star outfielder Bryce Harper would travel with the team to New York. Harper suffered what appeared to be a serious knee injury when he tripped over first base while trying to beat out a hit on Aug. 12, but he was diagnosed with only a bone bruise and is expected to play during the final week of the regular season.

Jackson is 4-3 with a 3.77 ERA in 12 career appearances (seven starts) against the Mets. Gsellman is 1-2 with a 4.35 ERA in four career starts against the Nationals.

Updated September 22, 2017

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