The Washington Nationals have gotten a number of contributions
during what’s looking more and more like their first playoff-bound
season in eight years in the nation’s capital.
Michael Morse has given his surging club some significant help
lately and will try to help add to its recent dominance over the
New York Mets on Saturday night.
Washington (74-45) is only eight wins shy of securing its first
winning season since relocating from Montreal after the 2004
campaign. The Nationals, though, have their sights set on bigger
goals, namely the franchise’s first postseason berth since
Washington is speeding toward that goal with 21 victories in 27
games and Morse has helped his team earn some of those wins with a
13-game hit streak, the longest current run in the NL and longest
by a Nationals player this season. He hit a go-ahead grand slam in
Friday’s 6-4 win over the Mets (56-63), and Bryce Harper added a
two-run shot for his first homer in 11 games.
“It has been a lot of fun watching Mikey the last couple of
years, kind of come into his own and turn into the player that he
has become. He is awesome,” outfielder Jayson Werth told the team’s
official website. “He is a great teammate and a great guy to
Morse, batting .315 with four homers and 12 RBIs during his
streak, has recorded at least one hit in each of his 10 games
against New York this season. He has three doubles in 12 career
at-bats against the Mets’ Jonathon Niese (9-6, 3.67 ERA).
Niese enters this start having given up one run in two of his
last three outings, including a 6-5 win over Atlanta on Sunday. The
left-hander matched a season high by going eight innings while
rebounding from a 4-2 loss to Miami on Aug. 7.
“I don’t consider it me struggling very much, but I might have
had a rough game here and there,” Niese said of his recent
Niese is 2-0 with a 1.37 ERA in his last four starts against the
Nationals, who have won 10 of 12 over New York, but he hasn’t
recorded a decision in the past two matchups. He gave up one run
and three hits over seven innings while striking out eight at
Nationals Park on July 17 as the Mets lost 5-4.
He’ll pitch opposite Edwin Jackson (7-7, 3.74), who has
performed well in his two starts against New York this season. The
veteran right-hander is 1-0 with a 3.75 ERA in those games and
earned a 5-3 home victory June 6, allowing three runs and three
hits over seven innings.
Jackson gave up five runs over 5 2-3 innings last Saturday in
Arizona but got enough support for a 6-5 victory.
“Right now, we can afford to have a game like today, when you
have a starter out there having to kind of grind through it without
his best stuff and still come away with a win,” first baseman Adam
LaRoche said after that game.
Jackson hasn’t pitched past the sixth inning in each of his last