Tony Gwynn & Jeff Passan: Subway Series in jeopardy?
The positive feelings from winning their first division title in 18 years have given way to anxiety and concern for the New York Mets, who are struggling to find their form ahead of the playoffs entering their series finale Thursday against the Atlanta Braves.
The Mets (93-65) have been outscored 25-1 in the first two games of this series after a 13-1 pounding Wednesday—their 10th loss in the last 13 games. One night after Mets third baseman David Wright expressed concern over his team’s recent struggles, a new one appeared when Pedro Martinez failed to get out of the third inning.
Martinez, who insisted he was fully recovered from a calf injury that landed him on the disabled list for nearly a month, was tagged for seven runs in 2 2-3 innings, and the three-time Cy Young winner dejectedly left the mound after an RBI double by Braves pitcher Tim Hudson.
“The way it’s looking right now, (Mets manager) Willie (Randolph) will not have a tough decision about who should pitch Game 1,” said Martinez, who is 0-4 with a 16.97 ERA in four starts since returning from the injury. “Obviously, the other guys are in better shape than I am.
“It would be a bad decision for Willie to put me out there from what he’s seen.”
The Mets, who enter the postseason as an NL East winner for the first time since 1988, have little to play for in their final four games, having already clinched home-field advantage throughout the NL playoffs.
Orlando Hernandez (10-11, 4.81 ERA) looks to complete his regular season with another strong effort and even his season record for New York. The Cuban-born right-hander has allowed three runs or fewer in his last five starts, going 2-2 with a 1.95 ERA with 33 strikeouts in 32 1-3 innings.
El Duque, who has a 9-3 lifetime playoff record, is trying to avoid losing consecutive starts for the first time since a three-game skid from June 19-30 after being reached for three runs and six hits in seven innings in New York’s 3-2 loss to Washington on Friday.
Hernandez has not faced the Braves this season, and is 2-1 with a 3.86 ERA in four lifetime starts against them.
Atlanta (77-81), which needs to win its remaining four games to avoid its first losing season since 1990, has eight homers among its 27 hits in the first two wins of this series. Jeff Francoeur hit two in Wednesday’s rout, while Chipper Jones, Brian McCann and Scott Thorman each added one.
The Braves are hitting .379 (58-for-153) with 14 homers, 41 RBIs and 33 extra-base hits in their last four games.
Kyle Davies (3-6, 8.25) tries to bounce back from a miserable outing as he tries to end the season on a positive note. The right-hander was tagged for a season-worst nine runs and 12 hits in just 2 1-3 innings Saturday in the Braves’ 10-9 loss to Colorado.
Davies, who defeated the Mets twice in a 12-day stretch in April, will make his fifth start against them this season. He went 2-1 with a 5.04 ERA in the first four starts, and is 3-1 six appearances—including five starts—against New York.