The New York Mets’ Mike Pelfrey(notes) has yet to face the Texas Rangers in his career. His biggest challenge will be trying to stop Nelson Cruz(notes), Josh Hamilton(notes) and Michael Young(notes), who have lit up NL pitchers this season.
The Mets make their first visit to Arlington since 2003 on Friday night, when they kick off a weekend series with the AL West-leading Rangers.
Pelfrey (4-5, 4.70 ERA) will try to end his road woes. The right-hander hasn’t won in his last three such starts, and is 1-5 with a 6.75 ERA away from home this year.
However, Pelfrey improved to 3-0 with a 2.96 ERA at home after tossing a five-hitter with five strikeouts and no walks in Saturday’s 6-1 win over the Los Angeles Angels.
“These days it doesn’t happen as often as in the past, but it’s fun to go out there and finish what you start,” he said after his first complete game in nearly three years.
Pelfrey has dropped his last two interleague road starts, both against the New York Yankees. Stopping Cruz, Hamilton and Young would go a long way toward preventing another loss, but it’s not going to be an easy task.
Cruz is hitting .400 with two homers and six RBIs in six games against the NL in 2011. Hamilton - the reigning AL MVP - has also played six interleague games, batting .375 with two homers and eight RBIs. He also has a 17-game interleague hitting streak at Rangers Ballpark.
Young is hitting .368 in nine interleague contests this year, and said playing at home could help Texas increase its 2 1/2-game division lead.
“We’d like to generate a little bit of momentum with our style of play. Find a way to be consistent offensively, on the mound and defensively,” Young said. “Whenever you’re at home, it’s a good opportunity to work on those things.”
The left-hander held Philadelphia to five hits in 8 1-3 innings of a 2-0 victory May 22. He was reached for three runs in 6 1-3 innings Saturday at Atlanta, but only one was earned. He limited the Braves to three hits and struck out six as the Rangers (40-36) went on to a 5-4 win in 10.
Harrison has yet to face the Mets (37-38).
“They are an NL team, so it will be different facing them,” he told the Rangers’ official website. “Guys like Jose Reyes(notes) and David Wright(notes), I’ve heard a lot about those guys. It will be fun to face them, but I approach it the same way. Go right after them and see how it goes and make adjustments after that.”
Reyes leads the NL with a .338 batting average, but Wright is on the 15-day disabled list with a stress fracture in his lower back. He was cleared to start workouts Thursday, and could rejoin the Mets in three weeks.
The Mets improved to 4-5 against the AL this year after a 4-1 win over Oakland on Thursday. Reyes had his second straight two-hit game and drove in a pair. He batted .404 over 10 games on the Mets’ most recent road trip June 7-16.
Texas failed to complete a three-game sweep of cross-state rival Houston with a 5-3 loss Wednesday, when closer Neftali Perez yielded four runs in the ninth.
New York has taken four of six all-time meetings with Texas.