A sweep over a fellow playoff contender could certainly create some significant momentum for the NL East-leading New York Mets heading into another big series.
On Wednesday, the Mets will attempt to sweep the Milwaukee Brewers for the first time in over four years, while trying to create some breathing room in the division race.
The Mets (78-61) lead the East by two games over Philadelphia, which faces Washington later Wednesday. They maintained that lead Tuesday when Endy Chavez hit a sacrifice fly in the 10th inning, giving New York a 6-5 win over the Brewers (80-58), who are 4 1/2 games behind NL Central-leading Chicago while leading the Phillies for the wild card lead by the same margin. The dramatic victory came after the Mets rallied from a 2-0 deficit after six innings for a 4-2 win in Monday’s series opener.
“We just have to keep playing good baseball down the stretch and put ourselves into position to win games, and we’ll win our share,” Mets manager Jerry Manuel said.
The Mets are now in position to sweep the Brewers on the road for the first time since Aug. 3-5, 2004. After concluding this series, they’ll return to Shea Stadium on Friday to open a big three-game set against the Phillies.
Before that, New York hopes its bullpen can continue its improvement. The relievers have allowed nine hits with 15 strikeouts and five walks in 13 scoreless innings to help the Mets win their last three games after going 6-7 with a 5.13 ERA and blowing seven of 17 save chances in the previous 25 games.
The Mets went to the bullpen six times Tuesday after starter Jonathon Niese exited his major-league debut after just three-plus innings. New York gave up just five hits the rest of the way.
“When you have a number of pitchers like we have, and we have put most of them in somewhat stressful situations, you’re not afraid now to call them in those times,” Manuel said. “And you figure if you keep them short, keep them having some success, then the next time they go out there, they feel very confident about themselves. That’s the plan. Sometimes it goes well. Sometimes it doesn’t.”
Manuel will now give the ball to Oliver Perez (9-7, 3.90 ERA), who looks to win for the first time in four starts.
The left-hander hasn’t factored in a decision over his last three outings, posting a 3.86 ERA with 15 strikeouts and 11 walks in 18 2-3 innings while getting a total of seven runs of support in that span.
He was shaky at times Friday, yielding two runs—one earned—and three hits with four strikeouts and five walks in six innings of a 5-4 win at Florida.
Perez is 3-1 with a 5.09 ERA, 58 strikeouts and 22 walks over 46 innings of eight starts against the Brewers. He was hit hard when he last faced them on April 13, giving up six runs and eight hits in 4 1-3 innings while not getting a decision in a 9-7 loss.
The Brewers look to continue benefiting from starts by Dave Bush (9-9, 4.12), who has led them to wins in eight of his last nine games. The right-hander is 5-1 with a 2.74 ERA in that span.
He was spotted a three-run lead in the opening inning before going on to win his fourth consecutive decision Friday, allowing one run and six hits in 6 2-3 innings of a 3-1 victory at Pittsburgh.
“It’s nice when you score early,” Bush said. “It takes a little pressure off knowing that one swing isn’t going to beat you.”
Bush is 2-0 with a 3.86 ERA in two games—one start—against the Mets.