Winners of nine straight at Citi Field, the Mets look to give their ace some much-deserved run support as he faces the Padres for the second time in a week Thursday afternoon in the opener of a day-night doubleheader.
The rookie first baseman’s seventh home run has put the Mets in position to try to win 10 in a row at home for the first time since an 11-game run in August 2006.
“We’ve played extremely well here,” manager Jerry Manuel said. “We’re confident here.”
With Mike Pelfrey(notes) and Santana (4-2, 2.76 ERA) leading the way, New York has posted a 1.95 ERA during its streak at Citi Field. Pelfrey beat the Yankees to begin the run May 22, and Santana won the next day to close out that series.
Pelfrey deserved a win after pitching nine sharp innings against the Padres (34-24) on Tuesday. Santana pitched well enough to get his own win in the teams’ previous matchup, tossing seven shutout innings at San Diego last Wednesday night, but New York lost 5-1 in 11 innings.
Santana has thrown 15 straight scoreless innings and has a 0.74 ERA over his last five starts, but his only decision was the win against the Yankees. The Mets have given Santana two runs or fewer to work with in four of those outings.
The left-hander is 2-2 with a 1.99 ERA in six starts against San Diego.
The Padres will give the ball in the opener to Mat Latos(notes) (5-4, 3.26), who is coming off a subpar outing, allowing three runs and walking a season-high four in five innings of a 3-2 loss to Philadelphia on Friday night. The right-hander went 4-0 with a 1.29 ERA over his previous five starts.
Latos won his only start against the Mets, giving up one run and striking out seven in six innings of a 3-1 victory Aug. 8. After losing a pitchers’ duel with Phillies ace Roy Halladay(notes) in his last outing, the 22-year-old Latos now has to match up with Santana, another former Cy Young Award winner.
“As far as going against Johan Santana, that doesn’t really matter to me,” Latos told the Padres’ official website. “I don’t really look at like going against Johan Santana, I look at it as going against a team with nine guys, starting with Jose Reyes.”
Reyes opened this series with two hits, including his second homer. The speedy shortstop went 1 for 19 over his previous five games.
San Diego is slumping at the plate, losing three of five and scoring two runs or fewer in each of the defeats.
But Chase Headley(notes) was again a bright spot for the Padres on Tuesday, delivering two hits while batting second for the first time this season. Headley is hitting .412 (11 for 34) over his last eight games.
Garland lost for the first time in 10 starts Saturday, allowing a season-high 10 hits and six runs in seven innings to fall 6-2 at Philadelphia. The right-hander was 6-0 with a 1.58 ERA since opening with consecutive defeats.
“Mistakes,” Garland told the Padres’ official website. “Everything was up. You can get away with those sometimes, but eventually bad things happen to you.”
He is 1-0 with a 2.57 ERA in three starts against the Mets, pitching a seven-hitter to win 5-2 at Citi Field while with Arizona on Aug. 2.
Niese pitched well in his return from the disabled list Saturday, allowing one run and six hits over seven innings to beat Florida 6-1 and earn his first career win in nine starts at Citi Field.
The left-hander had been out since May 19 with a mild right hamstring strain.
“As long as there wasn’t any pain, I knew there wasn’t going to be an issue,” Niese, who has never faced San Diego, told the Mets’ official website.