New York (60-61) at Pittsburgh (40-81)

Fair Currently: Pittsburgh, PA
Temp: 25° F
  • Game info: 7:05 pm EDT Fri Aug 20, 2010
Preview | Box Score | Recap

There’s plenty going wrong lately with the New York Mets, who haven’t won three straight in two months and are in the midst of an escalating off-the-field mess with their disgraced closer.

The Pittsburgh Pirates’ troubles, on the other hand, are nothing new.

A loss to the Mets in Friday’s series opener at PNC Park would guarantee the Pirates an 18th consecutive losing season, extending their record among all major North American professional sports franchises.

It’s been all downhill for the Mets (60-61) since they won eight in a row from June 10-18 to pull within a half-game of Atlanta for first place in the NL East. New York is 21-33 over the past two months, has fallen 11 games out of first and is facing a grievance from the players’ union over how it’s handled the fallout from Francisco Rodriguez’s altercation with his girlfriend’s father.

The Mets’ punchless offense, though, remains their biggest problem. They’ve totaled 14 runs in seven games after Thursday’s 3-2 loss in Houston.

“We have to do more offensively,” manager Jerry Manuel said. “We have to find a way to get it done. That’s a poor effort on our part offensively. We just have to do better. Period. It’s pathetic.”

While New York’s descent still has it hovering around .500, that’s a place the Pirates (40-81) haven’t been this late in the season since 1998. Thursday’s 4-2 loss to Florida guaranteed Pittsburgh its 18th straight non-winning season, extending its own dismal streak a year after surpassing the 1933-48 Philadelphia Phillies’ record for futility.

“You just gotta stay positive, you know?” said center fielder Andrew McCutchen(notes), who homered for the third time in four games. “You just gotta keep going and keep moving.”

Mike Pelfrey(notes) (11-7, 3.95 ERA) would seem to give the Mets an edge as the clubs meet for the first time in 2010, but the right-hander is 1-5 with a 6.64 ERA in his last eight starts and has seen his ERA rise from 2.93 since July 1.

He’s been solid in his last two outings, though. Pelfrey held Colorado to four hits over seven innings in a 1-0 win Aug. 10, then limited Philadelphia to three runs in seven innings of a 3-1 loss Sunday.

New York has totaled 12 runs during Pelfrey’s current slump.

“Whether we’re going out there and putting up 10 runs or one run, your mindset is you go out and there, and you try to get people out and you try to throw up zeros,” Pelfrey told the Mets’ official website. “It doesn’t change with your circumstance.”

Pelfrey has had vastly different experiences in two trips to Pittsburgh. He pitched seven scoreless innings in a 2-1 win Aug. 15, 2008, then was tagged for nine runs over 3 2-3 innings in an 11-6 loss June 4, 2009.

Like his own club, though, the Pirates are hardly an offensive threat. Pittsburgh has averaged 3.0 runs in August, better than only the Mets (2.29) in the NL.

Jeff Karstens(notes) (2-9, 4.57) can relate to Pelfrey’s lack of support. The Pirates have scored eight runs for him in seven starts, and he lost for the sixth time in that stretch Sunday at Houston. The right-hander surrendered five runs over 5 2-3 innings in the 8-2 defeat.

Karstens is 0-1 with a 5.27 ERA in three games - two starts - against New York.

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Starting Pitchers

M. Pelfrey Min vs. J. Karstens Pit
15-9 Record 3-10
3.66 ERA 4.92
113 K 72
68 BB 27
1.38 WHIP 1.41

Scoreboard

Friday, Aug 20