Mets-Cubs Preview


Anthony Rizzo has made his presence felt already for the Chicago Cubs.

Doing that again Wednesday afternoon could result in the Cubs sweeping a three-game series from the New York Mets for the first time in over eight years.

Rizzo lived up to the hype in his Cubs debut Tuesday, going 2 for 4 with a tiebreaking RBI double in a 5-3 win over the slumping Mets (39-36).

"He didn't act like much of a kid, that's for sure," manager Dale Sveum said. "That was pretty impressive."

Rizzo is considered one of Chicago's top prospects after he was acquired in a trade with San Diego during the winter. The first baseman hit .342 with 23 homers and 62 RBIs at Triple-A Iowa, and the major league-worst Cubs (26-48) felt the time was right to give him another stint in the majors.

He had a .141 average in 49 games with the Padres last year.

A victory Wednesday would give Chicago its second series sweep of the season and match the team's longest win streak of 2012. The Cubs took all three meetings with San Diego at Wrigley Field from May 28-30.

Jeff Samardzija (5-6, 4.34 ERA) will try to pitch the Cubs to their first three-game sweep of the Mets since April 23-25, 2004.

The right-hander, though, is 0-3 with an 8.53 ERA four starts since winning the middle game of that series with the Padres in May. He went seven innings in that outing, the last time he completed at least six.

Samardzija was hit hard again Friday, surrendering five runs and seven hits with six strikeouts and two walks in five-plus innings of a 6-1 loss at Arizona.

"That's something we have to monitor," Sveum told the team's official website about Samardzija's struggles to go deep in games. "I even notice at the 80-pitch mark, the ball gets up, that's when the walks start coming in. It's definitely getting to be a pattern."

Samardzija has a 2.70 ERA in six relief appearances against the Mets.

New York matched a season high with its fourth straight loss Tuesday. The Mets have committed six errors and are batting .162 with runners in scoring position during the skid after leaving 12 runners on Tuesday.

"We've got to get it stopped," manager Terry Collins said. "We've got to turn it around right now. We've got to start playing with some energy, playing with some thought, like we have been all season long."

Jonathon Niese (5-3, 3.75) will try to get the Mets back on track and win consecutive starts for the first time since April. The left-hander is 2-1 with a 2.05 ERA in four starts this month, striking out 28 in 26 1-3 innings.

He's the only Mets pitcher to record a victory in six games this season against the Yankees, yielding a pair of solo homers and six other hits - all singles - over 6 1-3 innings of a 6-4 win Friday.

Niese is 1-2 with a 5.95 ERA in four starts against the Cubs.