Washington (77-76) at New York (63-88)

Partly Cloudy Currently: New York, NY
Temp: 40° F
  • Game info: 7:10 pm EDT Thu Sep 18, 2003
Preview | Box Score | Recap

On the verge of being eliminated from postseason contention, the Montreal Expos open a season-ending, nine-game road trip with a three-game set at Shea Stadium against the hapless New York Mets.

Montreal is coming off a 14-4 loss to Atlanta on Wednesday, its last game at Olympic Stadium this season—and maybe ever.

The Expos ended their home schedule with a 39-20 record at Olympic Stadium, finishing with a 52-29 home record, including 22 “home” games at Puerto Rico.

The only thing Montreal fans had to cheer was Vladimir Guerrero, who could have played his last home game at Olympic Stadium. He came out of the dugout for two curtain calls after he was taken out of the game in the sixth inning,

Though shackled by severe budgetary constraints, Montreal is holding out hope that it can still sign its star slugger to a long-term deal before he becomes a free agent at the end of the season.

“We’ve been in contact with his agent and we have begun negotiations on trying to keep Vladimir Guerrero with the Expos and, hopefully, signing him to a long-term contract,” Expos general manager Omar Minaya said Wednesday. “We’re exercising the right that we have to have the exclusivity.”

Minaya said he spoke to Guerrero’s agent, Diego Bentz, on Tuesday.

“I’ve been in contact with him, some small conversations,” Minaya said. “But yesterday, I can say that we pretty much got the conversations going.”

Guerrero is making $11.5 million this season, the final year of a five-year deal. He recently passed Andre Dawson to become the team’s all-time home run leader and is hitting .333 with 25 homers and 79 RBIs this season, despite missing most of June and July because of a herniated disc.

He has hit 234 homers in just over seven years with Montreal, connecting for at least 34 in each of the five previous seasons, including a team-record 44 in 2000.

Montreal, owned by baseball’s 29 other teams, had a payroll of just over $40 million this season, one of the lowest in the majors.

The Expos are now just two games away from being eliminated from the NL wild-card race.

New York lost 2-0 at Chicago on Wednesday for its 12th loss in 13 games.

While losing all three games to the Cubs, the Mets managed just three runs, stranded 18 runners and struck out 32 times.

“All I can do is just keep running them out there, and try to be supportive and keep them going, keep them battling and hope something breaks,” Mets manager Art Howe said. “It’s not just one or two guys, the whole club is struggling right now.”

In their last six series, all against playoff contenders, the Mets are 4-15.

STANDINGS: Expos - 4th place, 18 GB, NL East. Mets - 5th place, 31 GB, NL East.

EXPOS PROBABLE STARTER: Javier Vazquez (12-11, 3.38 ERA). The right-hander lost 5-4 to the Mets on Saturday night, allowing seven hits and five runs in seven innings. He lost his third straight September start after going 4-1 with a 1.15 ERA in August. He is 7-6 with a 3.38 ERA in 18 career starts against New York.

METS PROBABLE STARTER: Steve Trachsel (15-9, 3.92 ERA). In his last start, Trachsel tied a career high with his 15th win in Saturday’s victory over Vazquez. The right-hander, who had 15 wins with the Chicago Cubs in 1998, allowed eight hits and four runs in six innings, improving to 6-2 in his last eight starts. Trachsel improved to 9-4 with a 3.86 ERA in 21 career appearances against the Expos.

OFFENSIVE LEADERS: Expos - Guerrero, .333 avg,; 25 HRs and 79 RBIs; Orlando Cabrera, 93 runs and 24 SBs. Mets - Roger Cedeno, .273 avg.; Cliff Floyd, 18 HRs; Floyd and Ty Wigginton, 68 RBIs; Wigginton, 69 runs; Jose Reyes and Cedeno, 13 SBs.

SEASON SERIES: Expos, 10-5.

STREAKS AND NOTES: Expos - SS Cabrera is hitting .444 (12-for-27) in his career against RHP Trachsel. … OF Endy Chavez is 0-for-9 in his career against RHP Trachsel. Mets - 1B Jason Philips is 1-for-10 in his career against RHP Vazquez. … RHP Trachsel is 10-1 with a 3.55 ERA in 15 road starts this season. … C Mike Piazza is just 6-for-32 in his career against RHP Vazquez. Piazza is 1-for-16 in his last five games.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Expos - 25-47 on the road; Mets - 32-41 at home.

INJURIES: Expos - RHP Orlando Hernandez (shoulder), 15-day DL; RHP Tony Armas Jr. (shoulder), 60-day DL; RHP Dan Smith (elbow), 60-day DL; 3B Fernando Tatis (chest), 60-day DL. Mets - SS Reyes (ankle), 60-day DL; IF Mo Vaughn (knee), 60-day DL; OF Floyd (foot), 60-day DL; RHP Pedro Astacio (shoulder), 60-day DL; RHP Scott Strickland (elbow), 60-day DL.

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Starting Pitchers

J. Vázquez Mia vs. S. Trachsel Bal
13-12 Record 16-10
3.24 ERA 3.78
241 K 111
57 BB 65
1.11 WHIP 1.31