The New York Mets are hoping a healthy rotation can help them create some room between themselves and the rest of the NL East.
They’ll welcome another starter back from the disabled list on Monday when they open a three-game series with the San Diego Padres at Petco Park.
Oliver Perez was activated from the DL on Sunday and threw six strong innings in a 5-2 win over Cincinnati. The Mets (51-40) took three of four from the Reds to kick off the second half of the season and enter this series 1 1/2 games ahead of second-place Atlanta in the East.
Now, New York will activate Jorge Sosa (7-3, 3.92 ERA) from the 15-day DL as it opens a seven-game West Coast swing that also includes four games at Dodger Stadium. Sosa strained his left hamstring running to first base in his last start on June 30, when he gave up three runs in five innings of an 8-3 win in Philadelphia.
“Anytime you have your rotation intact, that’s what you’re looking for,” manager Willie Randolph said. “Starting pitching sets the tone always.”
Sosa is 1-2 with a 6.75 ERA in his last four starts after opening the season 6-1. He made his only start against the Padres on May 23 last season while with Atlanta, allowing two runs in 6 1-3 innings of a 2-1 loss in San Diego.
Sosa has also made four career relief appearances against the Padres, going 2-0 with a 5.06 ERA
Along with a strong start from Sosa, the Mets are hoping to get their offense going. They scored more than four runs for just the fourth time in 12 games on Sunday.
“We’re going to get back to where we were last year when we ran away with it,” Milledge said.
The Mets will square off against 44-year-old left-hander David Wells (4-5, 4.31), who is pitching while appealing a seven-game suspension and $3,000 fine. He was ejected in the fourth inning of his last start on July 7 for an animated argument with umpire Ed Hickox over his strike zone.
Wells, who gave up three runs in three innings before being tossed from the Padres’ 8-5 win over Atlanta, also had words with umpire Hunter Wendelstedt in his previous start.
“I think it would be best if I just went up and talked to him this time in a calm way,” Wells said. “And obviously that didn’t work. I don’t know what to do. Flip a coin, I guess.”
The Padres (50-40) have won each of Wells’ last three starts, and he has allowed four runs in 15 2-3 innings over that span.
He is 4-1 with a 2.73 ERA in seven career starts against the Mets, but has not faced them since 2004 in his first stint with the Padres.
“I’m just going to try to look for fastballs,” Reyes told his team’s official Web site of his approach against Wells. “Just like I try to with anyone else.”
The Padres avoided a three-game sweep Sunday, winning 4-0 in Arizona. They are one game behind the Los Angeles Dodgers for the NL West lead.
Milton Bradley drove in two runs and Brian Giles had three hits for San Diego, whose .243 batting average is the worst in the NL. The bullpen also rebounded after blowing a 4-1 seventh-inning lead in Saturday’s 5-4 defeat.
“What we saw last night is an extremely rare occurrence,” manager Bud Black said. “I have without any hesitation a great deal of confidence in our bullpen.”