After struggling for much of this month, the San Diego Padres and New York Mets have a chance to generate a little positivity by winning a series.
Ian Kennedy looks to bounce back and lead the Padres to a rare series win Sunday, while his counterpart, Daisuke Matsuzaka, tries to build on a strong outing to solidify his spot in the Mets’ rotation.
San Diego (29-39) had dropped nine of its first 11 games in June before a 5-0 win Saturday at Citi Field snapped a season-high five-game losing streak. The Padres, batting .157 this month, were never threatened after scoring two runs in the opening inning.
The Mets (30-38) had only a pair of singles in their ninth loss in 11 games after registering 11 hits in a 6-2 win in Friday’s opener. New York is batting .209 in its last 11 and hasn’t homered in its last four games, one shy of matching its longest drought of the season from April 18-22.
The Mets are also batting .157 with runners in scoring position in their last 11 games after an 0-for-6 performance Saturday.
"I’ve pretty much exhausted all the things I have heard that work," manager Terry Collins said. "Quit worrying about hitting the homer, think about making contact. Certainly, we didn’t do that."
Kennedy (5-7, 3.63 ERA) will try to add to the Mets’ struggles while rebounding from his first loss in four outings. The right-hander gave up five runs over seven innings in Tuesday’s 5-2 loss in Philadelphia after putting up a 2.00 ERA in winning his previous three starts.
"Last game I made a couple of mistakes but those things happen," Kennedy told the team’s website. "A couple games before that had been going pretty well."
Matsuzaka (3-0, 2.95) gave up one run and three hits in six innings of a 6-2 win against Milwaukee that same day. He might have pitched one more inning if he hadn’t been hit in the right thigh by Carlos Gomez’s line drive in the sixth.
"Right now it’s not too bad … so we’ll see what happens," Matsuzaka said through a translator after the game.
The right-hander joined New York’s rotation June 4 after highly touted prospect Rafael Montero struggled in his attempt to replace an injured Dillon Gee (strained right lat) and was sent back to the minors.
Matsuzaka earned a 2-1 victory in his only start against San Diego on June 22, 2007, while with Boston.
Kennedy gave up five runs in 4 2-3 innings in his most recent matchup with the Mets, a 5-2 loss in San Diego on Aug. 16. He was 4-0 with a 3.45 ERA in his first five meetings.
David Wright, who is in the middle of New York’s offensive woes going 2 for 36 (.056) in his last 11 games, has one hit in his last seven at-bats against Kennedy after previously going 4 for 6 with two homers and a double.
Seth Smith is 5 for 5 with a home run and a double in his career against Matsuzaka, including the postseason, but is batting .176 (9 for 51) with no RBIs in his last 15 games, dropping his average 43 points to .290.