What to Watch For: 8/19

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New York Mets (57-63) vs. Washington Nationals (74-46)

RHP Jeremy Hefner (2-4, 4.76) vs. LHP Gio Gonzalez (15-6, 3.29)

Washington never got going as the New York Mets shut out the Nationals 2-0 Saturday night to even the series at a game apiece. In today’s rubber match, Gio Gonzalez will be opposed by righty Jeremy Hefner, who has suffered two of his four losses this year in his previous two starts against Washington, allowing five runs (and three home runs) in 12 innings of work.

NATIONALS LINEUP

1. Werth RF

2. Harper CF

3. Zimmerman 3B

4. LaRoche 1B

5. Morse LF

6. Desmond SS

7. Espinosa 2B

8. Suzuki C

9. Gonzalez LHP

THE STAKES AT HAND

Having split a pair here in D.C., the Nationals and Mets will settle the series outcome with today’s rubber game. The Nationals are 5-2 in rubber games this year, having won on August 15 at San Francisco (6-4), July 1 at Atlanta (8-4), June 21 vs. Tampa Bay (5-2), May 3 vs. Arizona (2-1) and April 11 at NYM (4-0).

HOMER HAPPY

Despite missing significant time due to injuries to Michael Morse, Jayson Werth, Ian Desmond, Ryan Zimmerman and Wilson Ramos, the Nationals have hit 129 homers in 120 games or 1.08 long balls per contest. In seven previous years in D.C., Washington hit more than 1.0 home run per game only once: in ‘06 the Nationals blasted 164 long balls in 162 games (1.01 per game).

D.C.’S DYNAMIC DUO

Thanks to DL stints for Morse and Zimmerman, Washington played the season’s first 50 games with only one or none of their middle-of-the-order bats. In those 50 games, the Nationals went 29-21 (.580) and averaged 3.8 runs per game. In 66 games with both in the lineup, Washington is 44-22 (.667) and is averaging 5.0 runs per contest (without either Morse or Zimmerman, Washington is 1-3 and averaging 2.5 runs per game since June 2).

- FOLLOW NATIONALS VS. METS LIVE -

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