WASHINGTON — Mets manager Terry Collins scripted his lineup Tuesday fully aware Yoenis Cespedes was unavailable, but the surprise was Curtis Granderson.
Though Granderson had battled right hip soreness in recent days, the manager received indications the veteran outfielder was ready for a return. Upon further review, Granderson was scratched from the lineup and replaced by T.J. Rivera in the Mets’ 11-4 loss to the Nationals.
Cespedes was rested for precautionary reasons a day after incurring a right hamstring cramp. He is expected back Wednesday. The bigger question might be whether Granderson will play the series finale — the Mets have Thursday off, and Collins could choose not to push it.
“It felt better than the day before, but the biggest thing was if I had to go for a ball in the gap or score from first or something like that,” said Granderson, who went 0-for-1 in a pinch-hitting role. “If we could get another day, that was the biggest thought process.”
Rivera, who started in left field, departed the game in the seventh inning with cramps in both legs. Matt Reynolds finished the game in left field.
“I just have to stay hydrated, get more fluids in me,” said Rivera, who finished 2-for-4 at the plate.
After the game Rivera said his legs had recovered and he expects to be available Wednesday night.
Collins on Daniel Murphy, who finished 4-for-5 with five RBIs: “He’s Daniel Murphy. I’ve seen it live and in person for five years. He’s an outstanding hitter and you’ve got to locate or he’s going to get a hit.”
Nationals starting pitchers have allowed three earned runs or fewer in nine consecutive games, posting a 1.91 ERA in that stretch with 69 strikeouts in 56 ²/₃ innings. Two of those starters, Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg, were selected to the NL All-Star team.
Tuesday’s 11:05 a.m. start was not the earliest in Mets’ history. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the Mets played several holiday doubleheaders at Pittsburgh’s Forbes Field in the 1960s that began at 10:30 a.m. Among those was a game on July 4, 1969.
Brandon Nimmo had a career-high three hits. It was Nimmo’s first multi-hit game of the season and the third of his career.