The last time the New York Mets swept a three-game series by shutting out their opponent in each contest, they went on to win their first World Series title.
Locked in a tight battle in the NL East, though, the Mets will just be looking to complete a three-game sweep of the punchless San Francisco Giants on Thursday.
The Mets (47-44) opened this series against the Giants (39-52) with a 7-0 victory Monday, as Mike Pelfrey allowed three hits in seven innings. They got another impressive pitching performance Tuesday from Johan Santana, who gave up three hits in five innings before three relievers pitched four hitless innings in a 5-0 win.
New York is now in position to complete its first three-game sweep by shutout since doing it at Philadelphia from Sept. 26-28, 1969. That hasn’t happened to San Francisco since Sept. 4-6, 1980, against Montreal.
The Mets’ winning streak is at five games, pulling them into a tie with Florida for second in the division, 1 1/2 games behind first-place Philadelphia. They haven’t won six in a row since a seven-game run from Aug. 17-24, 2006, and they haven’t swept the Giants since May 4-6, 2004.
The Mets will look to John Maine (8-6, 3.91 ERA) to help them match all those accomplishments. Maine, though, had his last outing cut short by cramping in his left forearm, as he was forced to leave after 5 2-3 innings Saturday. The right-hander allowed a three-run homer and struck out five in a 9-4 win at Philadelphia, and didn’t factor in the decision.
Maine is 5-1 with a 3.12 ERA in 10 home starts dating to last season. He’s 1-0 with a 3.00 ERA in two career starts against the Giants, and held them to two runs - one earned - and seven hits in six innings of a 5-3 win June 4.
Maine will be facing a San Francisco club that hasn’t scored since Ray Durham’s ninth-inning sacrifice fly in Sunday’s 5-3 loss to Los Angeles.
“We’re sputtering,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. “No question about it. They’re pitching well but you expect that here. We’re going to have to figure some way to get some runs on the board. We’ve hit a little skid. The last three games we haven’t played well.”
Bochy will give the ball to Barry Zito (4-12, 5.73), who’s looking to win consecutive starts for the first time this season.
The left-hander had perhaps his best performance of the year Saturday, striking out a season-high 10 while giving up two runs, six hits and one walk in seven innings of a 5-2 win over Los Angeles.
Zito has been solid in his last four road games, going 3-0 with a 3.00 ERA after losing his first four road outings with a 6.75 ERA.
However, another loss for Zito will tie his career high set in 2005 with Oakland and matched last year - his first with the Giants after signing a seven-year, $126 million free-agent contract.
Zito is 2-1 with a 4.15 ERA in three starts versus the Mets, the loss coming in his last game against them June 3. He gave up six runs and seven hits with five walks in 4 1-3 innings of a 9-6 defeat.