Preview: Chen has been stellar, but could use offensive support
Following the end of the Kansas City Royals' longest winning streak in more than 10 years, the pitcher who started the run has a chance to begin a new one.
Bruce Chen takes the mound at Citi Field as the Royals try for their 10th win in 11 games Saturday against a New York Mets team that could be without its All-Star third baseman.
The Mets (49-58) snapped Kansas City's nine-game winning streak - its first since starting the 2003 campaign 9-0 - Friday when Eric Young Jr. homered with two outs in the 11th inning for a 4-2 victory.
"It never feels good after you lose a game, but yeah, it was a nice streak," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "Now let's see if we can start another one."
New York's David Wright went 2 for 5 with a two-run homer, but was forced out of the game in the 10th inning when he strained his right hamstring while beating out an infield hit. Wright, who leads the team with a .309 average, is expected to have an MRI on Saturday.
An extended absence might spell trouble for a New York lineup that has averaged 2.4 runs while hitting .147 (10 for 68) with runners in scoring position during a 3-5 stretch.
"It's going to be tough for us," Young said. "(Wright) brings so much to our lineup. That's why he is our captain."
It could get tough pretty quick as the Mets go up against Chen (4-0, 2.09 ERA), who is 1-0 with a 1.50 ERA in three starts for the Royals (54-52) since replacing Luis Mendoza in the rotation.
Chen got the team's winning streak started by yielding one run and three hits over six innings in a 3-2 victory over Baltimore on July 23. He followed that by giving up two runs and three hits over six innings in a 4-2, 12-inning win at the White Sox on Sunday.
Opponents are hitting .115 in Chen's three starts, but he hasn't had much help from a Kansas City offense that has provided him with five runs of support.
Marlon Byrd (3 for 6) and John Buck (2 for 2) are the only New York players with experience in this matchup. Chen, who played for the Mets in 2001-02, hasn't pitched against them since 2003.
The Mets originally planned on starting Carlos Torres before the right-hander worked two innings of scoreless relief to earn the win in the opener. Now they'll give the ball to Jeremy Hefner (4-8, 4.21), who is 0-2 with a 12.34 ERA in three starts since the All-Star break.
The right-hander allowed a career-high five walks and five runs - three earned - over 5 1/3 innings before the Mets rallied late for a 6-5 win at Miami on Monday.
David Aardsma couldn't hold a ninth-inning lead on Friday and New York's banged-up bullpen could again be without closer Bobby Parnell (stiff neck), while setup man Josh Edgin is out at least four weeks because of a stress fracture in one of his ribs.