'Jake' picks up win No. 14, tops Nationals

August 25th, 2017

WASHINGTON -- Injuries have ravaged both the Mets and the Nationals this season, which left both teams with depleted lineups, setting up a pitching duel Friday night at Nationals Park. Mets right-hander outpitched Nats right-hander A.J. Cole to guide New York to a 4-2 victory on the first day of the inaugural Players Weekend.

deGrom, who donned the nickname "Jake," dominated a Nationals lineup featuring only one member -- second baseman -- from their Opening Day starting lineup after the team arrived from Houston after 4 a.m. ET. First baseman  was sidelined following an injury to his shoulder on a headfirst slide on Thursday night.

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And deGrom took advantage, scattering five hits and surrendering one run over 7 2/3 innings with 10 strikeouts.

"He just grinds out innings for you," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "You gotta have somebody who's gonna eat up some innings, and Jake's been that guy this year."

Added deGrom: "I had a good feel for almost every pitch tonight, and I felt like I mixed it up good and kept guys off-balance."

Despite the litany of injuries this season, the Nationals have still found ways to win and nearly completed a comeback in the ninth inning. After a pair of insurance runs in the eighth inning and another in the ninth, Mets closer AJ Ramos (aka "Junior") escaped a bases-loaded jam to seal the victory.

"Just pure perseverance and not wanting to lose," Nationals manager Dusty Baker said. "That's what I attribute that last inning to."

The Mets' offense started hot with an RBI single by (aka "Chiquitin") in the first inning before they suffered a blow when left the game with a right hamstring strain. He will be placed on the disabled list on Saturday.

Cole (aka "AJ") settled down after the initial Mets tally to complete six innings of one-run ball, matching a career high with eight strikeouts.

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED

Nats catch an early break: With the Mets' offense appearing to take control in the game's opening frame, a fortuitous break kept Cole and the Nats from digging an even deeper hole for themselves. With men on first and second, New York first baseman hit what appeared to be an RBI single up the middle that would have put the Mets up, 2-0. However, the ball ricocheted off of second-base umpire Andy Fletcher before reaching center field, which marked the play dead and prevented Cespedes (who was injured trying to round third) from scoring. The call loomed large, as Cole was able to get out of the inning without allowing another run.

"I took advantage of that and went after the guy, so they didn't score," Cole said.

Rally falls short: Down 4-1 in the ninth inning, Washington looked poised to get some late-game heroics from the middle of its lineup. After  (aka "Donnie") led the frame off with a home run to make it, 4-2, the Nats loaded the bases for with one out.

That's as close as they'd get to a comeback, however, as Ramos induced a lineout to right field from Kendrick and struck out  (aka "Steveo") looking, thwarting the Nats' final hope.

QUOTABLE

"Even when he was going through his struggles, he went out and worked hard and battled, and he's a competitive guy. He pitched tonight with a sore foot. ... He's a special kid." -- Collins, on deGrom

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With Friday's victory, Collins passed Bobby Valentine for second-most wins in Mets history with 537. Only Davey Johnson (595) has more.

WHAT'S NEXT

Mets: takes the mound at 4:05 p.m. ET on Saturday for the Mets, looking to rebound from his previous start against Washington. On June 15, he allowed seven runs on 11 hits over five innings.

Nationals: Left-hander will take the mound at Nationals Park. In two starts against the Mets this season, he owns a 2.03 ERA with 11 strikeouts in 13 1/3 innings.

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