The New York Mets’ pitching has been outstanding during their
four-game winning streak, and they’ll get to hand the ball to Johan
Santana as they try to keep rolling against the Cleveland
Santana’s mound opponent, however, might be able to keep
Justin Masterson tossed a two-hitter against one of baseball’s
highest-scoring teams his last time out, a performance he’d love to
replicate as the last-place Indians try to keep visiting New York
from a ninth victory in 10 games Tuesday night.
The Mets (35-28) have gone from being in last place and seven
games back in the NL East on May 22 to 1 1/2 out of first by
winning 15 of 20.
New York has allowed 10 runs during its four-game win streak and
capped a three-game sweep at Baltimore with season highs in hits
and runs Sunday. Jason Bay and David Wright combined for three
homers and seven of the Mets’ 18 hits in an 11-4 rout.
New York entered that series 8-18 on the road.
“We know how well we play at home,” said Bay, who was 1 for his
last 24 prior to Sunday. “At some point you have to win some games
on the road. … It’s a good start, (but ) the road trip isn’t over
The Mets had little trouble against the major league-worst
Orioles, but Cleveland’s starter for the opener could pose a
problem as the teams meet for the first time since 2004.
Masterson (2-5, 4.74 ERA) had shown little promise in his first
full season with the Indians (25-37) after coming over from Boston,
but his latest start was more than encouraging. Facing his former
team for the first time, Masterson held the Red Sox to two singles
and struck out six while going the distance in an 11-0 win
“Pitching sets the tone,” manager Manny Acta told the Indians’
official website, “and he set the tone for us tonight. He was very
effective and cruised pretty much the whole night. I hope he
continues to build on it.”
Masterson faced the Mets once in relief while with Boston,
allowing a run in three innings May 22, 2009.
Santana (4-3, 2.96) has plenty of experience versus Cleveland,
though all of that came with Minnesota from 2000-2007. He won’t
fondly remember his most recent outings, going 0-5 with a 4.38 ERA
against the Indians in 2007.
The Mets are 2-6 in the left-hander’s last eight starts, proof
that having Santana on the hill is hardly the automatic advantage
it once seemed to be. The two-time Cy Young Award winner gave up
eight hits, four walks and four runs over 6 2-3 innings in a 4-2
loss to San Diego on Thursday.
Santana has certainly had the number of two of the Indians’ best
run producers. Jhonny Peralta is 3 for 28 with 22 strikeouts versus
Santana, while Travis Hafner is 6 for 40 – though he has hit four
Peralta didn’t have any better luck Sunday against one of
baseball’s rising aces. He struck out in all three at-bats – two
against phenom Stephen Strasburg – as the Nationals snapped
Cleveland’s four-game winning streak with a 9-4 victory.
Hafner took Strasburg deep, giving him three homers in five