NEW YORK — Babe Ruth Jersey , the Nationals appeared ready to reward the faith of the upper management figures who resisted the urge to tear down the perennial National League East champions.But a little more than three weeks later, it’s becoming clearer by the day the Nationals will end the season closer to the Mets than the playoffs.Two teams getting ready to play out the string will square off Friday, when the Nationals visit the Mets in the opener of a three-game series at Citi Field. Washington’s Gio Gonzalez (7-10, 4.51 ERA) is scheduled to oppose New York’s Jason Vargas (3-8, 7.67) in a battle of left-handers.Article continues below ...Both clubs lost highly anticipated pitcher’s duels Thursday.Nationals ace Max Scherzer was the losing pitcher as the Nationals fell to Aaron Nola and the visiting Philadelphia Phillies 2-0.Jacob deGrom, pitching for the host Mets, absorbed another hard-luck defeat when San Francisco Giants left-hander Madison Bumgarner picked up the win by allowing five hits in eight innings of the Giants’ 3-1 victory.Scherzer and deGrom pitching Thursday robbed the series of its one potential bit of intrigue. Scherzer, the two-time defending NL Cy Young Award winner, is locked in an entertaining duel for the trophy this season with deGrom and Nola. Scherzer leads the Senior Circuit in wins (16), strikeouts (244) and WHIP (0.89). DeGrom leads the majors with a 1.71 ERA and is second in the NL in strikeouts (214) and WHIP (0.97). Scherzer and Nola are tied for second in the NL in ERA at 2.13 and Nola ranks second in wins (15) and fourth in strikeouts (169).DeGrom’s pursuit of the Cy Young has long been the main motivating factor for the Mets (56-71), who fell out of playoff contention by going 5-21 in June.“Our playoff hopes are not great because of where we are in the standings http://www.redsoxproshops.com/authentic-david-ortiz-jersey , but I feel like everybody’s trying to go out there and win games,” Mets manager Mickey Callaway said Thursday morning. “They obviously know that Jacob’s in the run that he’s in and it’s going to be a good (race). I think that motivates guys to a certain degree because of that.”The Nationals (64-64) looked like they might have more to play for than individual accolades when they throttled the Mets 25-4 on July 31, just hours after general manager Mike Rizzo declined to trade impending free agent stars such as Bryce Harper and Daniel Murphy despite Washington entering the trade deadline at 52-53.A 5-3 win over the Mets the next day pulled the Nationals within five games of a playoff spot, but the momentum proved to be short-lived. Washington, which won the NL East in four of the previous six seasons, has gone 10-11 since Aug. 2 to fall 6 1/2 games behind in the race for the NL’s second wild card and eight games out of first place in the division.Scherzer will never acknowledge his Cy Young candidacy is the biggest remaining objective for the Nationals, but Rizzo began to wave the white flag Tuesday, when he traded Murphy to the Chicago Cubs and allowed the St. Louis Cardinals to claim first baseman Matt Adams.“Just go 1-0 every single day,” Scherzer told reporters Thursday afternoon.Gonzalez took the loss in his most recent start Sunday, when he allowed eight runs in 4 2/3 innings as the Nationals fell to the Miami Marlins 12-1. Vargas picked up the win Sunday, when he gave up two runs in 5 1/3 innings as the Mets beat the Phillies 8-2 in the Little League Classic in Williamsport Bobby Doerr Jersey , Pa.Gonzalez is 15-5 with a 2.90 ERA in 25 career starts against the Mets, including 11-1 with a 1.78 ERA in 16 starts at Citi Field. Vargas is 0-3 with a 1.15 ERA in five career games (two starts) against the Nationals. The San Diego Padres have played the spoiler role to acclaim against the Seattle Mariners.With Tuesday night’s 2-1 victory on Wil Myers’ tiebreaking double off Mariners closer Edwin Diaz in the ninth inning, the Padres have won all three games between the teams this season.“For us, it was a good team win. A lot of good guys did a lot of good things,” Padres manager Andy Green said. “Edwin Díaz, probably the best reliever in baseball, to step up and score off of him in the ninth inning was great.”Article continues below ...The Padres, who are in last place in the National League West, will go for a sweep of the two-game series and a sweep of the season series Wednesday afternoon at Safeco Field.Myers has been a Mariners killer in his career, hitting .377 in 61 at-bats against them with seven doubles and two home runs.Green also praised Myers for his defense at third base. He made a strong play and even stronger throw to end the seventh inning after the Mariners had runners at second and third with no outs and couldn’t score.“For me, it was the best day I’ve seen from Wil in a while. The best hit probably all day was the line out to left field; that ball was crushed. Then the big hit of Díaz to win the game http://www.redsoxproshops.com/authentic-jimmie-foxx-jersey , of course. I was really pleased with what I saw. And at third base, he put in a lot of work, getting in early before anyone else was around. He did a lot of really nice things (Tuesday).”The Mariners are still clinging to hope in the American League’s wild-card chase, but their chances are dimming by the day. Seattle is 8 1/2 games behind Oakland for the final playoff berth with 18 games remaining in the regular season.The Mariners have scored just five runs in three games against the Padres this season. They were 1-for-7 with runners in scoring position Tuesday and stranded nine on base — including three in the eighth inning. They also loaded the bases in the second before Dee Gordon grounded into an inning-ending double play.“Situational hitting, we didn’t execute, and we didn’t get any big hits,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said.The Padres might have lost Luis Urias, considered one of the second base prospects in baseball, for the rest of the season.Urias pulled his left hamstring trying to beat out an infield grounder in the eighth inning and had to be helped off the field by Green and trainer Mark Rogow.“I don’t think it looks particularly good, given the amount of time we have left in the season,” Green said. “We’ll see how he responds to treatment. Hopefully it’s nothing big Johnny Pesky Jersey , but he’s doubtful at this point in time.”Padres rookie left-hander Joey Lucchesi (7-8, 3.59 ERA) is scheduled to start Wednesday against Mariners lefty Wade LeBlanc (8-3, 3.56).Lucchesi beat the Mariners 8-3 on Aug. 29 in San Diego, allowing one run on six hits in 6 2/3 innings while tying his career-high with nine strikeouts. LeBlanc is 0-1 with a 2.61 ERA in six career appearances against his former team, including one start. LeBlanc was a second-round pick of the Padres in 2006 and made his major league debut with them in 2008, staying in San Diego through 2011.
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