Entering his first full season in the majors, Mike Pelfrey was looking to become a consistent contributor for the New York Mets. He’s been even better than that, leading the NL East front-runners in wins and throwing complete games in each of his last two starts.
Pelfrey will try to become the first Mets pitcher in 18 years to go the distance for a third time in a row Saturday night when he takes the mound against the Florida Marlins.
Pelfrey (13-8, 3.70 ERA), who went 3-8 with a 5.57 ERA in 15 games - 13 starts - last season, has pitched consecutive complete games, winning both while posting a 2.00 ERA. The 24-year-old right-hander allowed one run and six hits in Monday’s 9-1 victory over Houston. Five days prior, he allowed three runs and three hits in a 6-3 win over Atlanta.
Pelfrey has helped New York (75-60) to wins in 14 of his last 17 starts, posting an 11-2 record with a 3.00 ERA in that span.
“I don’t think I’m tired,” Pelfrey told the Mets’ official Web site following Monday’s victory. “I feel strong. I feel good. My sinker was very good, and the guys playing behind me played very good.”
No Met has thrown three straight complete games since David Cone did it from Aug. 18-28, 1990. Pelfrey could also become the second pitcher in the majors to accomplish the feat this season, joining Milwaukee’s CC Sabathia (July 13-23).
Pelfrey, though, has been horrible against the Marlins, going 0-3 with a 10.66 ERA in three starts versus Florida (68-67) in 2008, failing to reach the fifth inning in each outing. He lasted just 4 2-3 frames against the Marlins on Aug. 10, getting reached for six runs and seven hits in an 8-2 loss.
The Mets lead Philadelphia by two games atop the East after beating Florida 5-4 on Friday in the opener of this three-game set. The Phillies are visiting NL Central-leading Chicago this weekend.
Carlos Beltran gave the Mets the lead with a two-out grand slam in the ninth inning Friday, and finished 2-for-4 with five RBIs. The center fielder is 9-for-21 (.429) with three homers and eight RBIs over the last five games.
Meanwhile, the Marlins fell further off the pace, trailing the Phillies by five games and the Mets by seven. They were only 1 1/2 games out of first on Aug. 13, but are 5-9 since.
“Our backs are against the wall,” Marlins center fielder Cody Ross said. “We’ve got to win. We’ve got to start (Saturday).”
Florida hopes Ricky Nolasco (13-7, 3.62), the club’s leader in wins, can earn a third consecutive victory.
The right-hander has won his last two outings, allowing two earned runs with 21 strikeouts in 16 1-3 innings. He was impressive Sunday, yielding two runs and three hits while fanning 10 batters in 7 1-3 innings of a 5-2 win at Arizona.
“He’s been the most consistent pitcher we have,” Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez said.
Nolasco is 1-1 with a 4.08 ERA in three starts against New York this season.