Despite back-to-back wins, New York Mets manager Willie Randolph thinks it’s too early to declare his team’s slump a thing of the past.
The Mets will be trying for a series sweep Sunday when they wrap their three-game set with the punchless Oakland Athletics at Shea Stadium.
New York (40-32) beat the A’s 1-0 on Saturday, winning consecutive games for the first time since May 27 and 29 against Florida and San Francisco. The Mets also clinched a series win after dropping their last six.
Coming into this set, New York had lost 13 of 16 games. But despite the wins, Randolph sees plenty of room for improvement in his squad, which committed two errors Saturday.
“It’s a small measure right now. It’s good to win a couple of games, but we need to put together a bunch of good games,” he said. “I don’t think we played a good, crisp game. Too many mistakes. Poor execution. Defense was shabby. I wasn’t really happy about the way we played.”
Despite their June swoon, the Mets still own a three-game lead over second place Philadelphia in the NL East.
“We’re going to go for the kill tomorrow and try to sweep,” said third baseman David Wright, who doubled in the winning run in the ninth inning.
The A’s (39-34), meanwhile, were shut out for the sixth time this season, the most in the American League. They have been held to one run and 14 hits so far in the series.
Oakland, whose .224 batting average with runners in scoring position ranks last in the majors, is 0-for-11 in that situation in this series.
New York starter John Maine (7-4, 2.90 ERA) will try to keep Oakland’s bats in check and build off his second win in eight starts. He allowed one run and just four singles in 7 1-3 innings of Monday’s 8-1 win over Minnesota, coming within an out of matching his longest outing of the season.
“He stayed focused,” Randolph said. “He kept pushing. We’re going to hit. Pitching is the key. Pitching keeps you in the game.”
Maine, who started the season 5-0, has allowed two or fewer runs in all but four of his 14 outings this season.
His only previous start against Oakland came on Aug. 28, 2005 when he was still with Baltimore. He allowed three runs in 4 2-3 innings of a 10-3 loss.
Maine is 1-1 with a 4.38 ERA in two starts against the AL this season, the first interleague starts of his career.
The A’s will counter with Joe Kennedy (2-4, 3.62), who allowed four runs in five innings of Oakland’s 10-6 loss to St. Louis last Sunday, but did not receive a decision. He is 1-0 with a 3.60 ERA in four starts since his last loss on May 26 in Baltimore, but has gone just five innings in his last two.
“It wasn’t one of his better outings,” Geren told Oakland’s official team Web site. “He was around the zone a lot, not hitting spots.”
The A’s have lost in five of Kennedy’s last six starts. The left-hander has never faced the Mets, but is 5-8 with a 5.14 ERA in 19 career interleague starts and 0-1 with a 5.19 ERA in three outings against the NL this season.
The Mets had lost eight straight games started by opposing left-handed starters before beating Oakland’s Lenny DiNardo on Friday.
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