WASHINGTON — The weekend showdown in the National League East between the New York Mets and host Washington Nationals, who have combined for the past three division titles, has become one of attrition.
Mets slugging outfielder Yoneis Cespedes went on the 10-day disabled list on Friday with a hamstring injury after he was hurt running out a hit on Thursday in Atlanta against the Braves.
On Friday night, Nationals center fielder Adam Eaton injured his leg while beating out an infield single in the ninth in a 7-5 loss to the Mets.
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“We’re waiting for the MRI exam,” Washington manager Dusty Baker said. “It’s not that easy. Not that many people work on Saturdays. We’re hopeful that it’s not as serious as it looked.”
So is the injury to Eaton’s knee or ankle?
“I don’t know. It could be one or both,” Baker said. “The doctor is supposed to let us know (Sunday).”
The series finale on Sunday will match two pitchers who have had their own health scares in the past year.
Right-hander Noah Syndergaard (1-1, 1.73 ERA) of New York will face Joe Ross (1-0, 6.17) of the Nationals.
The Mets will go for the three-game sweep after they won 5-3 on Saturday, as leadoff man Michael Conforto belted two homers and had three hits.
“I think this is huge for us,” New York manager Terry Collins said after Saturday’s win. “Tomorrow is going to turn into a big day for us.”
Syndergaard was scratched from his start on Thursday in Atlanta with a “tired arm,” according to Collins. But he was put through a series of tests on Friday at Nationals Park and was deemed ready to start on Sunday.
“I’m pretty in tune with my body,” Syndergaard told MLB.com, adding that he refused to undergo an MRI exam on his arm. “I knew there was nothing happening in there.”
Ross, on the disabled list for 66 games last season with right shoulder inflammation, is 1-1 with a 3.86 ERA in three career games (all starts) against the Mets.
Syndergaard is 2-3 with a 2.77 ERA in eight career starts against Washington. He has fanned 57 batters and walked 14 in 48 2/3 innings.
His last win against the Nationals came on May 17, 2016, when he pitched seven shutout innings in a 2-0 victory.
The Nationals called up rookie outfielder Rafael Bautista from Triple-A Syracuse to take the roster spot of Eaton. Michael A. Taylor started in center field on Saturday for the Nationals and had three hits.
Bautista was 2-for-5 for Syracuse on Friday at Norfolk and was hitting .291 with the Chiefs. He was not needed Saturday.
“In spring training I know he can hit that fastball. He’s an outstanding outfielder,” Baker said of Bautista. “Runs exceptionally well. Has a good throwing arm and he pays attention, that’s what I like most about him, that he pays attention.”