For the second time in a week, Stephen Strasburg dominated the Mets in Washington on Sunday, steering the Nationals to a 7-4 victory over their division rivals. On the hill for New York, Matt Harvey stumbled to his third miserable start in a row.
The Mets' starter kept the Nats scoreless through three innings, but he was met with back-to-back solo homers off the bats of Ryan Zimmerman and Anthony Rendon in the fourth, followed by a Bryce Harper sacrifice fly to give Washington a 3-1 lead. An inning later, Daniel Murphy connected for a two-run shot. Unlike Harvey's last outing, in which New York's defense ineptly aided in Harvey's struggles, he got the benefit of a smooth barehanded play by Asdrubal Cabrera to end the threat in the fifth. The 27-year-old was pulled after the frame, having thrown 84 pitches and surrendered five earned runs. He relinquished eight hits and two walks and struck out one, dropping his record to 3-7.
Cabrera opened the scoring by pulling a Strasburg offering over the right field wall and into the Nationals' bullpen in the top of the fourth. Yoenis Cespedes doubled to leadoff the seventh and Neil Walker followed with a single. With runners at the corners and no outs, Eric Campbell grounded into a fielder's choice to cut the Nats' lead to 5-2. For the final out of his outing, Strasburg struck out Ty Kelly—who was making his major league debut and starting at third—for the third time. The starter's day ended after 6.2 innings, striking out 11 and surrendering six hits and two walks. He lowered his ERA to 2.79 and still has yet to lose this season, with a record of 8-0.
New York staged a ninth-inning comeback attempt against reliever Shawn Kelley. With one out in the top of the frame, Walker walked. Campbell followed with a two-run homer, giving him three RBI on the day—more than the two he had entering the contest. Kelley then struck out Kevin Plawecki and induced a Ty Kelly ground out to nail the win down.
The Mets' bullpen had its first less-than-stellar game in a while. After a perfect sixth inning from Hansel Robles, Antonio Bastardo surrendered a solo shot to Ben Revere in the seventh. In the eighth, Jim Henderson gave up a one-run homer of his own to Wilson Ramos.
For an example of a pitching talent equal to Harvey's struggling so mightily through 10 starts before turning it around, one need look no further than his counterpart on Tuesday. Through 10 starts in 2015, Strasburg was 3-5 and had a 6.55 ERA, with opponents hitting .325/.377/.497. Mets fans can home for a Harvey turnaround similar to Strasburg's—in his remaining 12 starts in 2015, the Nationals' ace pitched to a 1.76 ERA, finishing the season with a mark of 3.46 and an 11-7 record.
SB Nation GameThreads
Win Probability Added
Big winners: None
Big losers: Matt Harvey, -28.8% WPA
Teh aw3s0mest play: Asdrubal Cabrera hits a solo home run in the top of the fourth, +13.5% WPA
Teh sux0rest play: Ryan Zimmerman hits a solo home run in the bottom of the fourth, -14.3% WPA
Total pitcher WPA: -30.6% WPA
Total batter WPA: -19.4% WPA
GWRBI!: Daniel Murphy