Mets look to even Subway Series with Yankees

NEW YORK — A week of almost unprecedented offensive ineptitude has left the New York Mets doing their best Stuart Smalley imitation: They’re good enough, they’re smart enough and, doggone it, eventually they’re gonna score some runs.

The Mets will hope their self-help lessons finally kick in enough to snap out of a historic funk when they host the New York Yankees Saturday night in the middle game of the three-game Subway Series at Citi Field.

Mets left-hander Steven Matz (2-4, 3.42 ERA) is scheduled to oppose Yankees right-hander Domingo German (0-4, 5.44 ERA).

The Big Apple’s baseball teams continued heading in opposite directions in Friday’s opener, when Brett Gardner hit a two-run homer in the eighth inning to snap a tie and spark the Yankees to a 4-1 win.

The win was the third in a row and the eighth in nine games for the Yankees (41-18), who probably didn’t need the “attaboys” rookie manager Aaron Boone received from city residents before his first Subway Series game.

“I didn’t get to experience it as a player, so just to see the two fanbases get together and in this great city, yeah, I’m excited for it,” said Boone, who played 54 regular-season games and 17 postseason contests with the Yankees in 2003.

“I think I had a few more ‘good lucks’ this morning at breakfast and things like that.”

The Mets (27-33) need a lot more than some good wishes after falling to 0-7 on a nine-game homestand. They have scored just eight runs in the last seven games and have scored one run or fewer in each of the last five games, which ties a franchise record previously set from Sept. 25-27, 1964, and Sept. 4-7, 1990.

Brandon Nimmo homered on Masahiro Tanaka’s second pitch of the game Friday, but the Mets got only two runners into scoring position the rest of the way.

“Lead off the game with a homer and all of a sudden you’re on the board and you’re feeling good,” Mets manager Mickey Callaway said. “So it’s frustrating they basically pitched a shutout after the first hitter of the game.”

The Mets are the first team to score three runs or fewer in a five-game span since the Kansas City Royals were held to two runs from Aug. 24-28, 2017.

“We definitely have guys like (Todd) Frazier that are trying to keep us upbeat,” Nimmo said. “Every inning, he’s in there saying ‘We’re going to break through at some point. We’re going to get this. This is the inning. This is the inning.’ If you say it enough times, you believe it. So it’s going to happen at some point.”

Matz took the loss in his previous start Sunday, when he gave up two runs over seven innings as the Mets fell to the Chicago Cubs, 2-0. German took the defeat in his most recent appearance Monday, when he allowed four runs over 6 2/3 innings as the Yankees lost to the Detroit Tigers, 4-2.

Matz is 1-2 with a 7.63 ERA in three career starts against the Yankees. German has never faced the Mets and will be pitching against a National League foe for the first time.

Both teams are likely to have updates on injured players Saturday. Tanaka is expected to undergo further testing after he experienced stiffness in both hamstrings while scoring from third base on a sacrifice fly in the sixth inning Friday night. Nimmo’s homer was the only hit Tanaka surrendered in five innings.

Mets outfielder Yoenis Cespedes, who hasn’t played since May 13 due to a right hip injury, is scheduled to play in his second rehab game for Double-A Binghamton. Cespedes went 0-for-2 for Binghamton on Friday night.