By Peter Haskell

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — After struggling in the final two games of their season-opening trip, the Mets look forward to a return home.

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The Citi Field gates opened at 1:40 p.m. on Friday with Mr. Met bobbleheads available to the first 25,000 fans.

There’s a heavy dose of 1986 nostalgia throughout the stadium. Keith Hernandez designed his very own menu item, “Keith’s burger,” available for noshing on the field level, third-base side. The Mets Hall of Fame also unveiled an ’86 World Series championship exhibit today.

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Opening Day festivities will reach a crescendo with tenor Michael Amante singing the national anthem, while over 100 veterans from all branches of the military unfurl a giant American flag in the outfield.

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As for the first pitch?

That honor goes to Ralph Kiner, who celebrates his 50th year broadcasting the Mets this season.

After the festivities, the Mets will try to turn it around against the Washington Nationals, who played well at Citi Field last season.

The Mets took two of three at Florida and won 7-1 in Tuesday’s series opener versus Philadelphia, but were outscored 21-7 while dropping the final two against the Phillies.

Starter Jonathon Niese was roughed up for six runs, and the Mets committed two errors and mustered just seven hits in an 11-0 loss Thursday.

Still, New York won’t be sulking while trying to win its second straight home opener.

“We’re not down in the dumps right now,” first baseman Ike Davis told the Mets’ official website.

The Mets have reason to be optimistic. Despite their latest effort, they have scored 31 runs in six games.

“If we play our game, we’re going to play very, very well,” first-year manager Terry Collins said. “I think our fans are going to have fun watching this team play. We’ll go home, regroup and have the people cheering us instead of booing us.”

That’s only if the Mets can fare better against the Nationals (2-4) than they did in 2010. Though New York finished with 79 wins – 10 more than Washington – the teams split 18 meetings with the Nationals going 5-4 in Flushing.

Davis hit a modest .259 with three homers against Washington as a rookie in 2010, but is batting .348 with a home run and six RBIs this season.

Third baseman David Wright, 6 for 14 with three RBIs at Philadelphia, is batting .333 his last six home games against the Nationals.

Knuckleballer R.A. Dickey will try to win his second straight start against the Nationals when he takes the mound Friday. The right-hander was 1-0 with a 1.89 ERA in three starts versus Washington in 2010.

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“Obviously we think as a unit we could have been better on the road trip, but it’s not a bad place to begin,” said Dickey. “The fans may be more optimistic than they once were given that we didn’t lose the road trip. We went 3-3 against teams in our division, beat Cole Hamels, had a game where we came back. There are some positive things here that have gone on early in the season that should give the fans a renewed sense of optimism.”

Coming off a career-high 11-win season, Dickey gave up a run and struck out seven in six innings of a 9-2 win at Florida on Sunday.

“When I go out there, I have a pretty high expectation of myself,” Dickey said. “I just want to try to meet that expectation every time, regardless of the past or the future. I really try to be in the moment with it.”

Washington hopes to build on one of its few positive moments to start the season after winning 5-3 in 11 innings at Florida on Thursday. Jayson Werth hit his first homer as a National and Adam LaRoche snapped a 3-for-23 slump with a two-run shot in the 11th.

“Things that could go wrong have been going wrong,” manager Jim Riggleman said. “(Thursday) a couple of things fell for us the right way.”

Werth is 2 for 14 the last four games, and batting .243 with 23 strikeouts in 18 games at Citi Field.

Jordan Zimmermann takes the ball for Washington against the team he’s faced the most during his 24-game career. The right-hander is 1-1 with a 3.54 ERA in four starts versus New York.

Zimmermann give up three runs, four hits and walked three in six innings of an 11-2 loss to Atlanta on Sunday.

How will the Mets fare at Citi Field this season? Make your prediction in the comments below!

(TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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