Preview: Mets at Padres
The New York Mets look to win their fourth straight series when they visit the San Diego Padres for the rubber match of their three-game set Sunday. New York went 8-2 on its 10-game homestand prior to the All-Star break and kicked off the second half of the season with a triumph in the series opener Friday. The Mets' four-game winning streak came to a screeching halt Saturday, however, as they managed only five hits in a 6-0 setback.
All-Star Tyson Ross was brilliant for San Diego, posting only his second win in nine starts despite allowing fewer than three earned runs for the seventh time in that span - and sixth time in as many outings. The Padres recorded a first this season, hitting three home runs in a home game as Yasmani Grandal, Will Venable and Seth Smith belted solo shots. San Diego has scored a total of 10 runs over the first two games of the series after being shut out in each its previous two contests before the break.
PITCHING MATCHUP: Mets RH Zack Wheeler (5-8, 3.90 ERA) vs. Padres RH Odrisamer Despaigne (2-1, 1.35)
Wheeler registered his fourth superb effort in five starts July 11, limiting Miami to one run and five hits over 6 2/3 innings en route to his second consecutive victory. The 24-year-old has allowed one run in each of his last three outings and tossed his first career shutout June 19 before surrendering six runs in only two frames against Oakland in his next turn. Wheeler lost his first career decision versus San Diego on June 14, when he was reached for four runs over five innings.
Despaigne is coming off his first loss in the major leagues, even though he allowed only two runs and seven hits in seven innings against the Dodgers in Los Angeles on July 10. The 27-year-old Cuban yielded a total of two runs in 19 2/3 frames while going 2-0 in his first three starts. Despaigne, who will be facing New York for the first time, is holding opponents to a .202 batting average and has not issued a walk in two of his four outings.
1. Mets C Travis d'Arnaud has hit safely in nine of his last 10 games.
2. Grandal's homer Saturday traveled an estimated 440 feet - the longest blast at Petco Park this season.
3. Padres manager Bud Black has anointed RHP Joaquin Benoit the team's new closer following Friday's trade of All-Star Huston Street to the Los Angeles Angels.
PREDICTION: Padres 4, Mets 1