June's worst NL teams meet when Pirates, Mets clash

STATS/TSX

NEW YORK -- New York Mets manager Mickey Callaway has been using some variation of the term "sync up" so often lately, he sounds like an early 1990s music critic discussing Milli Vanilli. At least on Monday the Mets will face another out-of-sorts team whose fortunes are sinking faster than those of an exposed one-album wonder.

Two squads enduring a miserable June will meet when the Mets host the Pittsburgh Pirates in the opener of a three-game series at Citi Field. Seth Lugo (2-2, 2.85 ERA) is scheduled to pitch for New York against Jameson Taillon (4-6, 4.03 ERA) in a battle of right-handers.

Both teams suffered the final loss of a three-game sweep Sunday, when the Mets gave up seven solo homers in falling to the visiting Los Angeles Dodgers, 8-7, in 11 innings and the host Pirates dropped a 3-0 decision to the Arizona Diamondbacks.

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The losses ensured the Mets (31-44) and Pirates (36-41) will enter Monday with the worst June records in the National League. New York is 4-17 since the calendar flipped while Pittsburgh is 7-14.

The nosedives have all but ended once-robust playoff hopes. The Mets, who opened the season 11-1, are 12 1/2 games behind the first-place Atlanta Braves in the National League East and 10 1/2 games behind the Philadelphia Phillies in the race for the second wild card.

The Mets opened June in a historic offensive slump in which they scored just 20 runs in 12 games from June 1-15. New York has scored 47 runs in its last eight games but has lost three games in which it scored at least seven runs.

"We just can't sync up exactly what we're trying to do every day," Callaway said Sunday. He also used the sync up expression following Thursday's 6-4 loss to the Colorado Rockies.

"If we swing the bats, we give up seven homers," Callaway said Sunday. "If we pitch and swing the bats good, our defense isn't quite there. It's kind of been the whole season -- we're not syncing up all the components that we need to sync up to win some ballgames. We did that early in the season."

The Pirates are uttering the same laments. Through 43 games, Pittsburgh led the NL Central with a 26-17 record and ranked fifth in the majors in runs scored (216).

Since then, though, the Pirates have gone an NL-worst 10-24 while scoring just 123 runs, the fewest in the NL and the fourth-fewest in the majors.

"At the beginning of the season, pitching was clicking, hitting was clicking," Pirates pitcher Trevor Williams told reporters after he took the loss Sunday, when he allowed three runs over six innings. "We're starting to get apart from each other and we're hitting a skid at the same time."

Lugo will be looking to snap a two-start slump Monday. He didn't factor into the decision last Wednesday, when he gave up six runs (three earned) over three innings as the Mets fell to the Rockies, 10-8.

Lugo has given up 11 runs (eight earned) over eight innings in his last two starts after tossing 13 straight scoreless innings in three games (two starts) from May 31-June 10.

Taillon took the loss last Tuesday, when he allowed three runs over five innings as the Pirates fell to the Milwaukee Brewers, 3-2. He has alternated wins with losses in four June starts.

Lugo has never faced the Pirates. Taillon is 1-0 with a 1.93 ERA in two career starts against the Mets. He made both starts consecutively to open his big league career in 2016 and carried a no-hitter into the seventh inning of the second start on June 14.

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