Piazza looks for his 400th career homer when the Mets and Padres conclude their four-game series at Petco Park on Sunday.
Among the achievements Piazza had in eight seasons with the Mets (12-5) included tying the club record for longest hitting streak—24 games in 1999— and hitting a memorable home run in New York’s first game after the Sept. 11 attacks.
But his most notable achievement in a Mets uniform came on May 5, 2004 when he passed Carlton Fisk to become baseball’s all-time home run leader among catchers with 352.
After hitting as no fewer than 33 homers in his first four full seasons with New York from 1999-2002, his home run numbers tailed off and the Mets chose not to offer him a new deal.
He signed a one-year deal with the Padres in February.
On Saturday, Piazza accounted for all of San Diego’s offense in an 8-1 loss when he hit career homer No. 399 off former teammate Pedro Martinez. Both of Piazza’s homers this season have come in San Diego.
Piazza will face another former batterymate—Mets right-hander Victor Zambrano (1-1, 9.00 ERA)—for the first time on Sunday.
Zambrano took the loss in his last start, in which he gave up seven runs and seven hits in five innings of a 7-1 loss to Atlanta on Tuesday. That started a stretch in which the Mets dropped three of four after getting off to a franchise-best 10-2 start.
Zambrano is 2-0 in his career against the Padres, earning wins as a starter and in relief while with Tampa Bay.
Clay Hensley (0-1, 6.00) will make his third career start for San Diego (7-10), and first against the Mets. In his only start this season after six relief appearances, the right-hander pitched well allowing a run and two hits with three walks in a 3-2, 11-inning loss to Colorado on Tuesday.
He will be facing one of baseball’s hottest hitters. First baseman Carlos Delgado has homered in each game this series, going 5-for-11 with five runs and four RBIs.
Delgado’s eight homers are one shy of tying Dave Kingman’s franchise record for home runs in April set in 1976.
Former Met outfielder Mike Cameron is expected to make his Padres debut Sunday after starting the season on the disabled list with a strained left oblique. He was expected to play Saturday, but the Padres opted to delay his activation to preserve pitching depth after a 2-1, 14-inning win on Friday night.
If he plays, it will be Cameron’s first game since a violent collision on Aug. 11 at Petco Park with Mets center fielder Carlos Beltran while chasing a fly ball.
The incident left Cameron with a broken nose, multiple fractures of both cheekbones and a concussion. It also ended his stint with the Mets, as he was traded to San Diego in November for outfielder Xavier Nady
“More than just playing against the Mets, I’m just glad I will have a chance to go out on the field every day,” Cameron said. “I have to help the team out more than just these games right here. I still have a good part of six months ahead of me.”
Beltran missed Saturday’s game with a a strained right hamstring and has three at-bats in the Mets’ last seven games. The results of an MRI on Saturday were negative and Beltran remains day-to-day.
“I can’t play. Not yet,” said Beltran, in the second season of a seven-year, $119 million contract. “It’s hard to be happy.”
The Mets have won six of the last nine meetings from the Padres.