The season can’t end soon enough for the New York Mets.
The Mets, who have matched a season high with their eighth consecutive loss, begin a three-game set against the Pittsburgh Pirates.
New York has dropped 16 of 17 for the first time since 1982, when they struggled through a 15-game losing streak and finished last in the NL East under George Bamberger.
“It’s not a feeling that you want to get used to, but I’m not concerned about it,” manager Art Howe said. “We’re going to have a lot of changes. This is not the team we’re going to come with next year. I’m finding out quite a lot. Some of the kids just aren’t ready and some of the other guys aren’t in the right places.”
New York got swept by Montreal this past weekend, scoring just six runs in the four-game set. The Mets have managed only 12 runs and hit .200 (53-for-265) during the losing streak.
With six games to play, the Mets are in danger of falling behind San Diego in the race to avoid finishing with the NL’s worst record.
Pittsburgh is coming off a split of a four-game set with Chicago. The Pirates will finish under .500 for the 11th straight season.
Unlike the Mets, the Pirates have seen improvement this season, especially at the plate. The Pirates are the third-best hitting team in the NL at .268, a year after they had the lowest average in the league at .244.
STANDINGS: Pirates - 4th place, 11 1/2 GB, NL Central. Mets - 5th place, 33 1/2 GB, NL East.
PIRATES PROBABLE STARTER: Kip Wells (9-8, 3.38 ERA). The right-hander has pitched extremely well lately, winning four of his last five starts and allowing just six runs in 34 2-3 innings during that span. He earned a victory in his only career start against the Mets, allowing two runs in five innings.
METS PROBABLE STARTER: Al Leiter (14-9, 4.19 ERA). The left-hander has lost his last two starts, but pitched well in Wednesday’s 2-0 defeat to the Cubs, allowing two solo homers and four hits in seven innings. He has been successful against Pittsburgh in his career, going 4-1 with a 1.08 ERA in eight starts.
OFFENSIVE LEADERS: Pirates - Jason Kendall, .325 avg. and 82 runs; Reggie Sanders, 31 HRs, 87 RBIs and 15 SBs. Mets - Jason Phillips, .300 avg.; Cliff Floyd 18 HRs; Ty Wigginton, 69 RBIs and 71 runs; Jose Reyes and Roger Cedeno, 13 SBs.
SEASON SERIES: Mets, 2-1.
STREAKS AND NOTES: Pirates - CF Tike Redman had two more hits Sunday and is hitting .314 (65-for-207) with three homers and 19 games in 50 games since joining the Pirates on Aug. 1. … C Kendall has gone 68-for-184 (.371) since Aug. 1 to raise his average from .304 to .325. Mets - C Mike Piazza has not homered in 73 at-bats, the longest drought of his career. His longest such stretch had been 72 at-bats, between his first career homer in 1992 for Los Angeles and his next one the following season. … 1B Phillips sat out Sunday’s game after aggravating his sore left hamstring while pinch-hitting Saturday. … LHP Leiter has one hit in 50 at-bats this season.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Pirates - 34-41 on the road; Mets - 32-45 at home.
INJURIES: Pirates - INF Pat Meares (hand), 60-day DL; INF Pokey Reese (thumb), 60-day DL; RHP Kris Benson (shoulder), 60-day DL; LHP Dave Williams (shoulder), 60-day DL. Mets - SS Reyes (ankle), 60-day DL; 1B 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.