Oakland (39-33) at New York (39-32)

Mostly Cloudy Currently: New York, NY
Temp: 76° F
  • Game info: 7:10 pm EDT Sat Jun 23, 2007
  • TV: KICU, WPIX
Preview | Box Score | Recap

Fans arriving for the middle game of the New York Mets’ interleague series with the Oakland Athletics on Saturday night should make sure to show up on time. Otherwise, they might miss it.

One night after a breakout offensive performance, the Mets (39-32) will take their chances against efficient Oakland starter Joe Blanton (7-4, 3.43 ERA).

Blanton has been outstanding this month, going 3-1 with a 1.44 ERA and .195 opponent batting average in four June starts while pitching at least seven innings in each outing. Perhaps just as notable, each of the last five games the right-hander has started have been over in less than two-and-a-half hours.

On Monday, Blanton gave up one run over eight innings of a 6-1 victory over Cincinnati, striking out five without a walk in a game that was played in a crisp two hours and 10 minutes.

“I like to work quick,” said Blanton, who threw 76 of his 106 pitches for strikes. “Sometimes it’s chilly and I don’t want to be out there either. … I think it just makes the pace of the game better. When I was in high school, if you have a guy who takes forever it takes you out of the focus of the game.”

Blanton dominated the Mets in his only career outing against them, a 5-0 victory at Oakland on June 14, 2005, when he yielded only three hits without a walk in seven innings with five strikeouts.

New York was similarly stifled in the final two games of its series with Minnesota this week, getting outscored by a combined 15-2 in the defeats. The Mets bounced back in Friday’s series opener, though, as Carlos Beltran and Shawn Green both hit solo home runs en route to a 9-1 rout of the Athletics (39-33).

Mets starter Tom Glavine helped his own cause with a double, a two-RBI single and a run scored as he earned his 296th career win. New York manager Willie Randolph hoped the performance would spark the rest of the team’s hitters.

“Well it should,” Randolph said. “If I’m a hitter, I don’t want the pitcher outhitting me.”

Despite compiling a paltry 5-14 record during June, the Mets hold a two-game lead over second-place Philadelphia in the NL East. They will send Orlando Hernandez (3-3, 3.08) to the mound as they go for their first consecutive victories since a four-game winning streak May 25-29.

Hernandez is seeking to recover from a pair of poor outings, as he has given up 10 earned runs over 10 innings to lose his last two starts. Against the New York Yankees on Sunday, he surrendered six runs and seven hits - including two homers - in 4 2-3 innings of the Mets’ 8-2 defeat.

Including postseason, the right-hander is 7-0 with a 2.70 ERA in 11 career appearances versus the A’s, although he has not faced them since he was pitching for the Yankees in 2002.

Eric Chavez and Shannon Stewart went 6-for-8 for Oakland on Friday night, but the rest of the lineup combined to go 1-for-25. The A’s have dropped four of their last six games.

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Starting Pitchers

J. Blanton LAA vs. O. Hernandez Was
14-10 Record 9-5
3.95 ERA 3.72
140 K 128
40 BB 64
1.22 WHIP 1.17

Scoreboard

Saturday, Jun 23