As well as he’s pitched in his first seven starts, Johan Santana is still looking for his first win at Shea Stadium in a New York Mets uniform. He’ll try again to get it on Saturday in the opener of a day-night doubleheader against the Cincinnati Reds.
These teams were scheduled to open their three-game series Friday night, but that game was postponed after a rain delay of 55 minutes. It will be made up as part of this doubleheader, with start times of 1:10 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
Originally slated to start Saturday’s contest, Santana (3-2, 2.91 ERA) will take the mound in the opener, hoping to get his first home victory since joining the Mets (17-15) in a blockbuster trade in the offseason. The two-time AL Cy Young Award winner is 0-1 with a 4.38 ERA in two starts at Shea this season, though he did win his only two previous stats there while with Minnesota.
Santana has been more effective on the road in 2008, surrendering nine runs in 34 innings. He held the powerful Diamondbacks lineup to one run while striking out eight in six innings on Sunday, though he did not get a decision in New York’s 5-2 victory.
The left-hander hopes for a similar performance against Cincinnati - one of only three teams he’s faced and never beaten. He has no record and a 6.14 ERA in two games - one start - against the Reds, but hasn’t faced them since 2001.
Santana also hopes his club saved some offense for him. The Mets have won his last four starts, but Santana hasn’t gotten the decision in either of the last two in part because of a lack of run support.
The Mets, though, had no problem at the plate on Wednesday, when they fell one run shy of their season high in a 12-1 rout of the Los Angeles Dodgers.
“Offense, offense, offense,” Mets manager Willie Randolph said. “It makes a world of difference.”
The Reds (14-21) are coming off their own offensive outburst. They had 15 hits including seven home runs - their most in more than eight years - in a 9-0 blowout of the Chicago Cubs on Wednesday.
“It was great to see that - hitting all those home runs, scoring all those runs, especially after not hitting any,” said Reds manager Dusty Baker, whose team hadn’t had more than one homer in any of its previous eight games.
“Those things go in streaks. Home runs go in streaks, hitting goes in streaks, good pitching goes in streaks. We had some good streaking going today.”
Matt Belisle (1-2, 6.91), starting the opener for Cincinnati, hopes Friday’s rainout hasn’t put a damper on his club’s hot hitting. The right-hander held Atlanta to two runs in 5 1-3 innings on Saturday, but still suffered the 9-1 loss.
Belisle has no record and a 3.86 ERA in three career games against the Mets.
The Reds will turn to struggling right-hander Bronson Arroyo (1-4, 8.63) in the nightcap. Arroyo, an All-Star in his first year with Cincinnati in 2006, thought he was turning the corner after recording his first quality start of the year on April 28, but he was tagged for seven runs in 1 1-3 innings of a 14-7 loss to Atlanta on Sunday. It was the shortest start of his nine-year career in the majors.
In five career starts against the Mets, Arroyo is 2-2 with a 4.29 ERA.
He’ll match up against New York’s Mike Pelfrey (2-2, 5.27), who has given up five runs in each of his last two starts - both losses. The right-hander, who lasted only five innings in a 10-4 loss to Arizona on Saturday, is 1-0 with a 3.68 ERA in two games against Cincinnati.
The Mets won five of seven games against the Reds last season, including three of four at Shea.