Published: Sun, July 17, 2016
Sport | By Billy Aguilar

Did the Mets underperform or overperform in the 1st half?

Did the Mets underperform or overperform in the 1st half?

"But when you get him in certain counts where he's looking to pull, he's now unsafe, because he can hit a homer".

The Washington Nationals have a chance to push their lead in the National League East to six games heading into the All-Star break.

Murphy, as usual, deflected any notion he's the main reason his team is soaring. After the most recent one on June 22, Syndergaard acknowledged he was pitching through a small bone spur but expressed little concern about it.

As for his own impressive first half that includes 46 extra-base hits and 66 RBIs?

Said Collins: "I really believe the more Jose is in the lineup, the more he gets accustomed to what's going on at this level, at this speed, after having some time off, I think he's going to be a big factor".

Murphy lined a two-run drive off the facing off the upper deck in the first inning. Not even two home runs from leadoff man Jose Reyes was enough in the series finale. When we've got guys in scoring position, we've just got to realize that a single is going to work.

"We've got to do a better job in situational hitting", Collins said.

"All I'm trying to make sure of is that Jeurys Familia will be on the plane", he said of his All-Star closer.

Murphy's production against the Mets may end up being historic considering he still has six games remaining in September against his former employer.

Another win today would tie the mark for the all-time franchise history with the Montreal Expos, who won 54 in the first half of the 1994 campaign. Gonzalez made it 5 2/3 innings and only allowed two earned runs, the first time since May 18 that he's given up less than three in a start. The lefty had lost seven of his previous eight decisions, but regained his touch in a ballpark where he's now 8-1.

Tanner Roark made his first relief appearance of the season, replacing Gonzalez and retiring seven straight batters. The 30-year old lefthander tossed 5.2 innings on two runs on four hits, in getting his fifth win. He gave up an RBI single to All-Star Wilson Ramos in the third that put Washington ahead 3-1, and left after the seventh. The only thing I'm not going to be doing is playing the game.

His slugging percentage was 89 points higher against the Mets than against any other team in his career, beating out the Kansas City Royals, who he punished in last year's World Series. They moved to 9-4 against the Mets this year, which tops their win total in the 2015 head-to-head series. The powerhouse of the Mets lineup - Yoenis Cespedes - has battled injuries, and has recently been sidelined due to a quad injury. Collins said it was unlikely the slugger would've been able to pinch-hit.... OF Alejandro De Aza twice knocked himself down with foul balls in the fourth. The pitcher stayed in and got Travis d'Arnaud on a liner to left. With it, a sense of calm and confidence that the Washington Nationals haven't seen since 2014. Major league wins leader Chris Sale could start for the AL, and Harper has faced him once, in the 2013 All-Star Game at Citi Field.

Nationals: Open a nine-game homestand next Friday, starting with Pittsburgh. The Dodgers and Padres later visit Washington.

Mets' pitchers, as a group, headed into the final game of the so-called "first half" with a 3.39 ERA, the third-best ERA in the majors and 79 home runs allowed, the second-fewest in the majors. RHP Noah Syndergaard, who left his last start with arm fatigue, will pitch at the back end of the rotation coming out of the break, Collins said.

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