In a matchup of teams that nearly met in the World Series last season, the Mets look to avoid their first five-game losing streak in nearly two years as they open a three-game series with the Tigers on Friday.
New York (35-23) is hardly playing like the team that had a chance to face Detroit (34-25) in last year’s World Series. The Mets had the NL’s best record in 2006, but lost in seven games to St. Louis in the NLCS.
The Cardinals then defeated the Tigers in five games to win the World Series.
After being swept in a three-game series with Philadelphia, including a 6-3, 10-inning defeat on Thursday, the Mets are in danger of losing five straight for the first time since dropping six in a row from Sept. 5-10, 2005. They have lost five of their last six, scoring three runs or less in all the losses.
New York, though, still leads the NL East by 3 1/2 games over Atlanta.
“There’s no one that’s going to be totally out of it in this division,” Mets manager Willie Randolph said. “We’re all going to knock heads with each other, and everybody is going to make their run here and there.”
Injuries are part of the reason for New York’s current struggles.
The Mets’ banged-up lineup took another hit with outfielder Endy Chavez being placed on the disabled list Thursday with a pulled left hamstring. New York is are already without outfielders Moises Alou (left quad) and Shawn Green (right foot).
With their lineup slumping, the Mets have not been able to take advantage of the strong starting pitching they continue to get. Their starters have a 2.33 ERA during the team’s skid.
Jorge Sosa (5-1, 3.22 ERA) has become a steady pitcher at the bottom of New York’s rotation, giving up two runs or less in five of his six starts. The right-hander allowed one run and five hits in 6 2-3 innings to earn a win as the Mets beat Arizona 7-1 on Saturday.
Sosa, though, is 0-2 with a 9.00 ERA in two starts and three relief appearances against Detroit.
Detroit will counter with Chad Durbin (5-1, 4.75), who notched a win despite struggling in his last start. The right-hander was reached for five runs and eight hits in 5 1-3 innings as Detroit beat Cleveland 9-5 on Saturday.
Durbin has won his last five decisions—a career high—with the Tigers giving him an average of 6.0 runs of support over his last eight starts.
This will be Durbin’s first appearance against the Mets.
Detroit won four of its final five games to salvage a split of its 10-game road trip, and has scored nine or more runs in five of its last six games.
“At the start of the trip, people started to say we’ve got problems,” Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. “But we’re capable of winning games. Five-and-five is fine.”
Sheffield batted .375 (15-for-40) with seven homers and 17 RBIs on the road trip. He is hitting .320 with 29 homers and 81 RBIs lifetime against the Mets.
This will be the third series all-time between New York and Detroit, with each team sweeping a three-game set at home. In their last series, the Mets held the Tigers to six total runs in June 2004.