The Reds lost in Colorado today, so if the Nationals can pick up a win tonight, they can get back to 6 1/2 games behind Cincinnati in the wild card chase.
They're certainly not off to a good start.
The Nats trail 2-0 after a half inning thanks to a shaky start by Ross Ohlendorf. The veteran right-hander allowed back-to-back doubles to Eric Young and Daniel Murphy to start the game, then surrendered an RBI single to Lucas Duda to give the Mets a two-run lead.
The first four Mets hitters to come to the plate tonight all hit rockets, thanks mostly to bad location by Ohlendorf. Everything was up, and the Mets made him pay.
After catcher Wilson Ramos came out to try and calm Ohlendorf down, he got an easy 6-4-3 double play to end the inning, but the Nats are already in a hole.
Ohlendorf's velocity hasn't been a problem early on - he's sitting at 94 mph and touched 95 mph with his two-seamer - but his control just hasn't been there thus far.
Update: It didn't get much better for Ohlendorf in the second.
He surrendered an absolute bomb of a home run to Mets rookie Matt den Dekker, a solo shot that made it 3-0.
The homer came on an 89 mph fastball that caught too much of the plate. It was down, but den Dekker dropped his barrel to it, and he sent it a long, long ways, into the second deck in right-center.
It was the first homer of den Dekker's career, and it looked like he got the silent treatment upon his return to the Mets' dugout.
We've still got a long ways to go in this one, but man, not a great start for the home team.
Update II: I'm not quite sure how, but the Nats trail just 3-2 midway through the fourth. This is despite Ohlendorf continuing to get smacked all over the ballpark.
Ohlendorf has allowed five extra-base hits through four innings and seven hits overall, but he's gotten two inning-ending double plays and left two runners in scoring position.
The location continues to be an issue, but Ohlendorf is scraping and clawing and eating innings.
The Nats, meanwhile, put up a run in the bottom of the second on Tyler Moore's two-out RBI single, and they added another in the fourth on Scott Hairston's RBI knock.
Both guys were inserted into the starting lineup tonight because of their success against left-handed pitching, and against Niese, both guys are delivering.
Update III: Ohlendorf is done after five very shaky innings, and he leaves in line for his first loss of the season.
The right-hander allowed four runs on nine hits (six of the extra-base variety) with no walks and no strikeouts. He threw 79 pitches, just 49 of which were strikes.
The sixth extra-base hit Ohlendorf allowed tonight came off the bat of Mets starter Jon Niese, and two batters later he came around to score to make it 4-2 Mets.
Update IV: The deficit has increased to three, as the Mets tacked on another run in the seventh.
Making his first appearance since getting recalled from Triple-A, Ian Krol allowed two hits and an intentional walk, and Lucas Duda's RBI single through the left side pushed in another Mets run to make it 5-2. Ryan Mattheus, who has struggled lately, came on to strand two and end the inning, but not before the Nats found themselves trailing by three.
There hasn't been a whole lot for the home crowd to cheer about tonight, despite the 10 Nats hits. It's been a weird game, but it's been a weird game dominated by the Mets.