What to Watch for: 4.20.13

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Washington Nationals (9-7) vs. New York Mets (8-7)

LHP Gio Gonzalez (1-1, 4.50) vs. RHP Jeremy Hefner (0-2, 7.20)

The Nationals dropped the series opener Friday night in Flushing and are an even 2-2 on their current six-game road swing with two games left to play. Gio Gonzalez, who was 3-1 with a 3.27 ERA in four starts vs. New York in 2012, looks to get back on track as he matches up with Mets righty Jeremy Hefner, who was 0-3 with a 5.29 ERA in three starts against Washington last season.

NATIONALS LINEUP:

1. Span CF

2. Werth RF

3. Harper LF

4. LaRoche 1B

5. Desmond SS

6. Tracy 3B

7. Espinosa 2B

8. Suzuki C

9. Gonzalez LHP

ERRATIC BATS OF LATE

After taking two-of-three at Miami thanks to 10-3 and 6-1 victories, the Nationals plated just a single run on four hits in dropping Friday’s series opener at Citi Field. In its last six games, Washington has scored two runs or less four times and tallied just four hits in a game thrice. The Nationals have averaged 6.0 runs per game in their nine wins this season and only 1.6 runs per contest in the season’s seven losses.

PLUSES AND MINUSES

At present, Washington is the only team in MLB with both a winning record (9-7) and a negative run differential (-13). The defending World Champion Giants (10-7) come close, however, having both scored and allowed 77 runs.

DON’T WALK

Nationals starting pitchers rank third in Major League Baseball, having issued just 1.98 walks per 9.0 innings. Only the starting staffs of the Mariners (1.70) and Brewers (1.85) have been stingier with the free pass.

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