Youth-focused Mets try to down Nationals again

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The New York Mets aren’t shying away from mixing up player combinations and getting looks at some of their younger prospects as the season winds down.

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Winning games in the process has been a welcome bonus.

Victors in four of the past five, the Mets play at Washington again on Wednesday night, 24 hours after blowing out the Nationals despite starting four players age 23 or younger.

“You can tell how close they are,” Mets manager Buck Showalter said of his young players. “They’ve been through a lot in the minor leagues together.”

The Mets homered five times in the 11-5 rout of the Nationals. Two of the blasts came from Brandon Nimmo.

The Nationals (62-77) have lost six games in a row, and their bid to climb out of last place in the National League East will take another ding if they can’t forge a split of this midweek two-game set against the Mets (64-74).

Putting four rookies in the lineup gave New York a chance to assess younger players.

“We all live through their moments,” Showalter said. “It wasn’t by design. This is the (lineup) that fit the best.”

It came about, in part, because outfielder DJ Stewart got the night off due to a sore back. Showalter said Stewart should be available for the Wednesday game.

While the offense naturally drew attention on Tuesday, there were other positives for the Mets.

“I’m really happy with how they played defense more than anything,” Showalter said.

Mets slugger Pete Alonso hit his 42nd homer of the season on Tuesday. He owns the single-season franchise record, having socked 53 in 2019, and now he is alone in the No. 2 spot on that list, as well.

The Nationals, who have been plagued by struggles early in games during their skid, gave up four first-inning runs in the series opener.

“It sucks the air out of you,” Washington manager Davey Martinez said. “You’re playing comeback. We’ve got to get through those first couple innings, score some runs early and often and then go from there.”

The Nationals will go with right-hander Joan Adon (2-1, 5.90 ERA) to try to shake the skid. In four games (three starts) at home this season, Adon is 0-1 with a 9.60 ERA.

Adon has faced New York twice before, both times in 2022. He took a home loss in each outing, giving up a total of seven runs in eight innings.

The Mets will try to keep their momentum going by sending right-hander Jose Butto (0-2, 4.30 ERA) to the mound for his fifth appearance of the season and the sixth of his career. The Mets have lost the past three games in which he pitched, including an April 25 home defeat to Washington in which he gave up two runs in 4 2/3 innings.

New York’s pitching depth was bruised with Showalter announcing Tuesday that Carlos Carrasco would miss the rest of the season with a broken finger stemming from an incident in the weight room. Carrasco finishes 3-8 with a 6.80 ERA in 20 starts (90 innings) this year.

—Field Level Media

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