Orioles-Mets Preview


The New York Mets are getting dazzling - and at times historic - performances on the mound this month.

Ike Davis' production at the plate is also providing an unexpected lift.

Johan Santana takes the mound at Citi Field for the first time since tossing the Mets' first no-hitter while Davis tries to continue his torrid hitting Tuesday night when they face the Baltimore Orioles.

New York (36-32) is 8-9 this month, but the rotation can't be blamed since it's compiled a 2.38 ERA. Santana (4-3, 3.23 ERA) and R.A. Dickey are responsible for six of those victories, nearly all of which have come in impressive fashion.

Santana opened June by no-hitting St. Louis, his second consecutive complete game victory. Dickey followed that a day later by throwing a seven-hitter to beat the Cardinals.

This time, it'll be Santana trying to draw inspiration from Dickey, who became the first Met to throw back-to-back one-hitters Monday. The knuckleballer fanned a career-high 13 while powering a 5-0 victory over Baltimore (39-28) in the opener of this series.

Santana hasn't been nearly as sharp since his no-hitter, splitting two road starts while allowing 10 runs with 11 strikeouts in 10 innings. The left-hander got plenty of help Thursday, when he allowed four runs and six hits with four walks in a 9-6 win at Tampa Bay.

Now, he gets the ball in Flushing, where he's 3-1 with a 1.30 ERA in seven starts this year.

Santana is 4-0 with a 3.18 ERA in his last five meetings with the Orioles, but he hasn't faced them since August 2007.

Davis will try to continue his own success. The first baseman is hitting .462 with two homers and 11 RBIs in his last nine games after connecting for his first grand slam Monday.

"My first time. It was really cool. I wasn't expecting it," said Davis, who is hitting just .196 despite raising his average 38 points during his recent surge.

The Orioles are trying to rebound from Monday's defeat after winning seven of their previous eight.

Wilson Betemit had Baltimore's only hit in the opener, and he's 7 for 15 in his last five games. Despite being in the majors since 2001, the third baseman has never faced Santana.

The Orioles are scheduled to give the ball to Tommy Hunter (3-3, 5.58), who gets his first look at the Mets while trying to win back-to-back starts for the first time since a three-game run with Texas from Aug. 22-Sept. 1, 2010.

The right-hander hasn't come away with a victory on the road since Aug. 15, however. He's 0-4 with a 7.27 ERA while serving up 15 homers in his last nine starts away from Baltimore.

Hunter will try to end that drought after briefly showing some promise at home Thursday, retiring the first 12 batters he faced before allowing five runs and seven hits in the next two innings of a 12-6 victory over Pittsburgh.

"It (stinks) to say that's the best you felt and turn around and see five runs on the board," Hunter told the team's official website. "But that's the way it is going to go sometimes. Just take those first four innings and take them into your next start."