Mets-Indians Preview

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

Indians.

Santana’s mound opponent, however, might be able to keep

pace.

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

yet.”

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

Wednesday.

“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

homers.

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

games.