The first five weeks of the season have gone about as well as the New York Mets could have imagined. But they're already thinking about how to best position themselves for the final five weeks of the season.
The Mets will look to maintain their fast start Tuesday when they visit the Washington Nationals for the opener of a three-game series between the National League East rivals.
The Mets, who were rained out Friday and Saturday before a scheduled off-day Monday, have not announced a starter for Tuesday. Left-hander Patrick Corbin (0-5, 7.16 ERA) is slated to start for the Nationals.
The Mets split a doubleheader Sunday, when they fell to the host Philadelphia Phillies 3-2 in the opener before Pete Alonso homered twice and finished with five RBIs in a 6-1 win in the nightcap.
The Nationals completed a nine-game road trip Sunday by falling to the Los Angeles Angels, 5-4, in the rubber game of a three-game series.
With the win in the second game, the Mets became the first team this season to reach 20 victories and won yet another series. New York entered Monday with the best on-base percentage (.335) in the majors and the second-lowest ERA (3.24) in the National League.
The Mets, who haven't won a playoff game since reaching the World Series in 2015, began Monday six games ahead of the Atlanta Braves and Miami Marlins -- the biggest lead among first-place teams.
"Hell yeah, that's great, but we want to win the division," Alonso said of reaching 20 wins. "For us, we had a great start. We ran the bases well, hit well and our pitching staff (fared well) -- whether it be starters or bullpen. We played such great team baseball."
The loss Sunday made the Nationals just the second team in baseball to reach 20 defeats and dropped Washington 10 games behind the Mets. Only the Cincinnati Reds are farther out of first place.
But the Nationals -- who are ranked among the top 10 in baseball in batting average (fourth at .254) and on-base percentage (tied for sixth at .319) yet next-to-last in the majors in ERA (4.92) -- had a chance to finish their road trip with a winning record before the Angels scored three times in the ninth inning Sunday. Ex-Washington star Anthony Rendon delivered the walk-off RBI single two pitches after reigning American League MVP Shohei Ohtani laced the game-tying two-run double.
"I thought we did well pitching to those guys all series," Nationals manager Dave Martinez said. "You're playing with fire when those guys come up in the middle of that order and you saw what they can do really quick."
Corbin took the loss despite throwing a complete game last Wednesday, when he allowed five runs (three earned) over eight innings as the Nationals fell to the Colorado Rockies, 5-2. He is 5-8 with a 4.34 ERA in 21 career games (20 starts) against the Mets.
--Field Level Media