Morning Briefing: Sweep the Nats!


FIRST PITCH: The New York Mets could move into a virtual first-place tie in the NL East with a win on ESPN Sunday Night Baseball.

After winning the first two games of their series against the Washington Nationals, the Amazin's send Noah Syndergaard to the mound for the 8:08 p.m. ET finale. Syndergaard (5-5, 2.70 ERA) opposes right-hander Jordan Zimmermann (8-6, 3.36).

The Mets had been 9-33 against the Nats in Queens since the start of the 2011 season before this weekend's back-to-back victories. The Amazin's now are bidding for their first three-game sweep of Washington since May 25-27, 2009.

"It would be great if we were able to do it [Sunday] night. At least for the moment in time we'd have at least a piece of first place," Curtis Granderson said. "But considering we just started the month of August, a lot of baseball is still left to be played -- a lot of baseball not only against them, but other teams in the National League East. So it'll mean a decent amount, but only for a small moment, until we get on the field again and get ready to play our other opponent."


  • After receiving a stern but supportive message last week from manager Terry Collins to produce or sit, Lucas Duda homered twice and delivered a tiebreaking RBI double in the eighth as the Mets rallied for a 3-2 win against the Nats on Saturday. Before his decisive two-bagger snapped the streak, Duda became the first major league player with eight straight hits being homers since Marcus Thames with the Detroit Tigers in 2008, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Seventeen of Duda's 20 homers this season have come in Queens. Jacob deGrom struggled in a 31-pitch first inning, but gutted through six innings in a no-decision. After three consecutive blown saves to open the second half, Jeurys Familia rebounded with a perfect ninth. Yoenis Cespedes went 0-for-3 in his Mets debut. He also was intentionally walked with first base open ahead of Duda's game-deciding RBI double against left-hander Matt Thornton. Cespedes expressed surprise with the Nats' decision not to pitch to him. A sellout crowd announced at 42,996 packed into Citi Field on fireworks night. Even Washington's Jayson Werth was impressed by the energy from the crowd. Read game recaps in the Washington Post, Post, Daily News, Times, Newsday, Record and at NJ.com and MLB.com.

  • After joining the Mets on Saturday, Cespedes met with Collins and told the manager he likes playing center field. So Collins said he expects Cespedes to see regular time at that position against right-handed pitching, with Juan Lagares typically starting in center field against southpaws.

  • Tim Rohan in the Times profiles Cespedes. Rohan writes: "Cespedes is a quick learner. When he first came to the United States, he picked up golf, and now he plays every offseason. When he joined the Red Sox, he started playing guitar. He often takes grounders at third base during batting practice -- and does not look out of place." Mike Gavin in Newsday traces Cespedes' journey from Cuba to the United States and discusses the promotional video sent to major league teams before he signed. Read more on Cespedes' first day as a Met in the Journal, Newsday and at NJ.com and MLB.com, plus reaction from Collins to the addition in Newsday.

  • Michael Conforto was demoted to Triple-A Las Vegas with Cespedes joining the big league club. The Mets delayed the announcement until shortly before Saturday's game because Kirk Nieuwenhuis has been dealing with a pinched nerve in his upper back that had left him unavailable Thursday and Friday. Read more in Newsday and at NJ.com.

  • Wright will accompany the Mets to Miami after Sunday's game. The captain will work out with the club during that three-game series against the Marlins. He then will head up to Port St. Lucie midweek to begin getting eased into minor league rehab games, according to Collins.

  • Ex-Padre Tim Stauffer allowed three runs in 5 1/3 innings in his organization debut and Matt Reynolds went 4-for-5 as Las Vegas beat Tacoma, 8-4. Jon Velasquez and Paul Sewald retired the final eight batters to preserve Binghamton's 6-5 win against Richmond. Kevin McGowan and David Roseboom combined on the shutout as St. Lucie blanked Clearwater, 6-0. Casey Delgado tossed seven scoreless innings in Savannah's 3-0 win against Asheville. Andrew Church was knocked out in the first inning and Brooklyn lost to Batavia, 10-3. Read the full minor league recap here.

  • Columnist Joel Sherman in the Post advises Mets front-office officials to remember the energy at Citi Field as a result of their trade-deadline deals as a lesson to make similar maneuvers in the future.

  • Tyler Kepner in the Times reviews the historical success of trade rentals.

  • Columnist Anthony Rieber in Newsday interviews analytics-driven sites about how the Mets' odds of making the playoffs are calculated.

  • Columnist David Lennon in Newsday suggests: "For all the talk of the deadline trades that rejuvenated the Mets by upgrading the roster, we should start mentioning the reacquisition of Duda from hitter's limbo."

  • Cesar Puello was taken off a minor league rehab assignment because he complained that his back issue had flared up.

  • Kirsten Fleming in the Post reveals that Jacob deGrom's sister Jessica cuts his hair.

  • From the bloggers … Mets Report handicaps the odds of the team's four rentals staying.

BIRTHDAYS: Dae-Sung Koo turns 46.


YOU'RE UP: Will the Mets win the NL East?