<
>

Morning Briefing: Magic number holding at 10

NEW YORK --

FIRST PITCH: When you’re a New York Mets fan, it is never easy.

For the second straight day Wednesday, the Washington Nationals won and the Amazin’s lost. So the Mets’ lead atop the National League East has been sliced to 7½ games with 16 to play. The magic number remains at 10.

The Mets now take a day off before welcoming the New York Yankees to Queens for the weekend. The Nats begin a four-game series against the pesky Miami Marlins on Thursday.

The Subway Series matchups:

Friday: Steven Matz vs. Masahiro Tanaka, 7:10 p.m. ET (PIX11)

Saturday: Noah Syndergaard vs. Michael Pineda, 1:05 p.m. ET (Fox)

Sunday: Matt Harvey vs. CC Sabathia, 8:08 p.m. ET (ESPN)

Harvey’s start is expected to be limited to five innings or so as the Mets conserve innings.

Manager Terry Collins suggested the energy of the Subway Series could be good for the Mets to revive them after consecutive losses to the Marlins.

“We’re playing for something big. They are also,” Collins said. “It’s very similar to when we were playing the Nationals.”

THURSDAY’S NEWS REPORTS:

  • Bartolo Colon surrendered solo homers to Martin Prado and JT Realmuto and Justin Bour took Tyler Clippard deep as the Marlins blanked the Mets, 6-0, Wednesday at Citi Field to win the rubber game. The Mets produced only three hits in seven innings against rookie Adam Conley. The Amazin’s were shut out for the first time since July 23, when Clayton Kershaw went the distance. That performance came immediately before Michael Conforto made his major league debut and the Mets acquired Kelly Johnson and Juan Uribe, which began the team’s surge. Read game recaps in the Post, Daily News, Times, Newsday, Record and at MLB.com.

  • Yoenis Cespedes tells Ken Davidoff in the Post that he initiated the contractual-language change that will allow the Mets to negotiate with him throughout the winter. “I’m actually the person who told them to change it,” Cespedes told Davidoff. “It only gave me five days for the Mets to sign me after the World Series, so I wanted it changed so that it’s not just within those five days. So even during the offseason, they can sign me if that’s what they want.”

  • Matz, a Long Island native, tells Fred Kerber in the Post about pitching in the Subway Series for the first time: “You’ve just got to go out and be prepared for each week. But I would say, if there is one, this is the game you look forward to, outside of the playoffs.”

  • How long will Harvey pitch against the Yankees on Sunday? "We're going to keep a very close eye on him," Collins said. "The Yankees will decide when he comes out, but it won't be real deep in the game." Read more in Newsday and at MLB.com.

  • Subway Series tickets are selling for an average of $147 on the secondary market, Jared Diamond writes in the Journal.

  • Tyler Kepner in the Times matches up the rotations of the Mets and Los Angeles Dodgers.

  • A day after suffering a groin injury, left-hander Dario Alvarez underwent an MRI on Wednesday.

  • Carlos Torres (strained left calf) has started throwing off a bullpen mound, although not at full throttle. He could be back in a major league game this weekend.

  • The Mets have set their contingent for the Arizona Fall League. First-round picks Gavin Cecchini and Dominic Smith as well as infielder Jeff McNeil, right-handers Mike Hepple, Mickey Jannis, and Beck Wheeler and left-hander Kyle Regnault will represent the Mets with the Salt Lake Rafters.

  • From the bloggers ... Blogging Mets says there is no reason for fans to panic. ... Mets Report was unsurprised by Cespedes getting plunked Tuesday.

BIRTHDAYS: John Franco turns 55.

TWEET OF THE DAY:

YOU’RE UP: Do you feel comfortable with the Mets’ 7½-game lead?