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NYM@MIN: Harvey flirts with no-no, dominates Twins

There will be plenty of young firepower on the mound at Citi Field on Friday night, when the Nationals and Mets open a three-game series, their first meeting of the year.

Washington's Stephen Strasburg and New York's Matt Harvey will tangle in a matchup of 24-year-old right-handed fireballers who both possess overpowering stuff and the hype to go with it.

Although Strasburg has more experience, including an All-Star 2012 season, it's Harvey who has taken baseball by storm thus far in '13. Harvey, like Strasburg a former top-10 Draft pick out of college, is 3-0 with a 0.82 ERA in three starts, racking up 25 strikeouts in 22 innings.

On Saturday against the Twins, Harvey made it through 6 2/3 innings before losing a no-hitter on a solo home run by Justin Morneau. He finished with two hits and one run allowed in eight innings.

"I'm glad they've got another good young pitcher coming along that's showing a lot of promise," said Nationals manager Davey Johnson, who skippered the Mets from 1984-90, winning the '86 World Series. "That's good for New York, good for baseball. ... That's interesting, and I'll look forward to it when Friday comes."

Strasburg is 1-2, although he has a 2.95 ERA and 15 strikeouts in 18 1/3 innings. On Saturday against the Braves, the only runs Strasburg allowed over six innings were unearned. He settled in as the game went along, retiring his last seven batters.

"I think [the offspeed stuff] got more consistent there in the end," Strasburg said. "I wanted to go out there and try to go deep in the ballgame, but unfortunately I threw a lot of pitches early, so that kind of spoiled that. But at least I was able to go out and give six."

Nationals: Espinosa hoping for return
• Second baseman Danny Espinosa, who has been out since suffering a bruised right forearm on Sunday, expects to be back in the lineup on Friday.

Espinosa fielded some grounders during Wednesday's batting practice but didn't swing the bat, and Johnson put the chances of him returning on Friday only at "50-50."

• Center fielder Denard Span missed his second straight game on Wednesday thanks to a flu that hit both him and left fielder Bryce Harper on Tuesday. Harper returned to the lineup, while Span was feeling better and might have been available off the bench, if needed.

Mets: Collins standing by Tejada
• Shortstop Ruben Tejada leads Major League shortstops with six errors after making only 12 in 112 games last season, but manager Terry Collins is keeping the faith.

"You just try to go and say, 'Hey look, stay aggressive, stay aggressive, stay aggressive,'" Collins said. "Because the minute I go up to him and say, 'I'm really worried about what's going on here,' now all of the sudden, it looks like you're panicking. And when you panic, they panic."

• The Mets' 81 runs are the franchise's most through the first 13 games of a season. The second game of the team's doubleheader against the Rockies on Tuesday was the first time this season the club failed to hit at least one home run, snapping that franchise-record streak at 12.

• Catcher John Buck has driven in 19 runs this month, his personal high for a calendar month. The Mets' record for most RBIs in April is 26, set by Jeff Kent in 1994.

• Wednesday's postponed game against the Rockies will be played at 6:10 p.m. ET on June 27 at Coors Field.

Worth noting
• In two starts against the Mets last season, Strasburg went 2-0 with a 0.69 ERA and 13.8 strikeouts per nine innings.

• Harvey has faced the Nationals once, last Sept. 12. He struck out 10 over five innings, allowing one run on five hits.

• The Nationals play 17 games in 17 days starting on Friday.

• The Mets have lost three straight.

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