|Nats' Sanchez tries to avoid 0-7 start vs. Mets|
Washington Nationals right-hander Anibal Sanchez hopes to sidestep negative history when he starts the series finale at home Thursday afternoon against the New York Mets.
Sanchez, who played last year for the Atlanta Braves, will try to avoid becoming just the second pitcher in Nationals history to start the season 0-7. Jason Marquis began the 2010 season 0-7 for Washington.
Sanchez is 0-6 with a 5.27 ERA this year for Washington but 5-5 with a 4.13 ERA in 14 career starts against the Mets. Sanchez has not lost to New York since 2011.
The Mets will start right-hander Zack Wheeler (3-2, 4.35), who is 4-9 with a 5.01 ERA in 15 career starts against the Nationals. He was 0-1, 10.24 in two starts last year against Washington and he once lost four games to them in a season -- in 2014.
But Wheeler, in his last start, tied a season-high with 11 strikeouts as he went seven innings on May 10 to beat the Miami Marlins at home 11-2.
"I've just been attacking the zone hard and trying to get strike one," Wheeler told mlb.com. "I try to get a quick out after that, whether it's a strikeout or ground ball or whatever it may be. Tight in the zone, strike one and just go from there."
Nationals hitters are 52-for-158 (.329) against Wheeler. Third baseman Anthony Rendon is 10-for-30 (.333) against him, and the Houston native was 3-for-4 Wednesday.
Mets hitters are 23-for-112 (.205) with a homer off Sanchez. The only New York player with a homer off him is Michael Conforto, who is one-for-seven against the veteran.
The back end of the Nationals rotation has been a problem with Jeremy Hellickson (6.00 ERA) and Sanchez, who has pitched just 41 innings in eight starts this year.
Former starter Erick Fedde has pitched well out of the bullpen this season and could be an option if the Nationals want a new member of the rotation. He has not allowed a run in eight innings over four relief appearances.
"He is probably capable right now of going 85 to 90 pitches," Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo said Wednesday on 106.7 The Fan, the team's flagship radio station. "It would not take long for Fedde to be stretched out."
In the second game of the series Wednesday, lefty Patrick Corbin of the Nationals fanned 11 and gave up just one run in eight innings as Washington won 5-1 to even the series.
The Nationals have not won a series since April 16-18 against the Giants.
"It is a big series for us," outfielder Adam Eaton said after the win. "Hopefully it is contagious."
"It was great for tonight (but) we have to do it consistently," first baseman Howie Kendrick said.
Washington shortstop Trea Turner (0-for-4, two strikeouts) continued a minor league rehab assignment Wednesday with Class-A Potomac of the Carolina League. General manager Mike Rizzo said he will be evaluated after playing there Thursday.
Washington first baseman Ryan Zimmerman, on the IL since April 28 with plantar fasciitis in his right foot, took groundballs during batting practice Wednesday.
Lefty pitcher Steven Matz of the Mets threw on the side Wednesday, the day he was eligible to come off the injured list. He is 3-2, 3.86 in seven starts this year.
--Field Level Media