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NEW YORK — The New York Mets and Tampa Bay Rays will experience what it’s like to look across the field and feel as if they’re staring into a mirror for the last time this season on Sunday afternoon when the teams play the rubber game of a three-game series at Citi Field.
The Mets’ Chris Flexen (0-1 [url=http://www.officialavalanche.com/authentic-adidas-samuel-girard-jersey]Womens Samuel Girard Jersey[/url] , 10.80 ERA) is scheduled to face the Rays’ Nathan Eovaldi (2-3, 3.92) in a battle of right-handers.
The Rays posted a 3-0 win Saturday afternoon when ace left-hander Blake Snell tossed 7 1/3 strong innings and Wilson Ramos collected two RBIs.
The Mets and Rays have combined for just nine runs in the first two games, four of which were registered when New York’s Jose Bautista hit a walk-off grand slam to lift the Mets to a 5-1 win on Friday night. The teams had just eight hits in 77 plate appearances with runners on base on Friday and Saturday.
Such struggles have become routine for the Rays and Mets, who ranked 26th and 27th in the majors in runs scored after Saturday’s game — during which Tampa Bay moved past New York.
The offensive woes have threatened to negate the strong work of both pitching staffs. The Rays (44-44) have a 2.77 ERA since May 19, when they began infusing their rotation with the “opener” in select games.
“I think that with the way we’ve pitched, we find ourselves being in a lot of ballgames,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said before Saturday’s game. “But when the bats are quiet, it just becomes really, really tough to find ways to win ballgames.”
Starting pitchers for the Mets (35-50), meanwhile, have a 2.25 ERA in the last six games and a 3.94 ERA this year. New York’s three most utilized starters — Jacob deGrom, Zack Wheeler and Steven Matz — are 11-16 despite a 3.06 ERA in 51 games.
“If we win just five games of deGrom’s and Matz’s and Wheeler’s — and that’s being conservative — we’re right where we want to be,” Mets manager Mickey Callaway said after Saturday’s game. “And it just hasn’t happened.”
Flexen will make his first start of the season and his first appearance since June 24, when he took the loss after giving up one run in one inning as the Mets fell to the Los Angeles Dodgers 8-7 in 11 innings. He hasn’t started in the majors since last Oct 1, when Flexen allowed six runs (five earned) in 1 1/3 innings as New York fell to the Philadelphia Phillies 11-0 in the season finale.
Eovaldi didn’t factor into the decision in his most recent start Monday, when he gave up two runs in six innings as the Rays fell to the Miami Marlins 3-2 in 10 innings. He has allowed two runs or fewer three times in seven starts this season but has surrendered at least four runs three other times.
Flexen has never faced the Rays. Eovaldi is 1-4 with a 5.01 ERA in nine career starts against the Mets.
TORONTO — Atlanta Braves first-year general manager Alex Anthopoulos was not sure how well his new team would do this season.
“You know what [url=http://www.officialavalanche.com/authentic-adidas-semyon-varlamov-jersey]Semyon Varlamov Jersey[/url] , we didn’t know what to expect,” the former Toronto Blue Jays GM said before the opener of a two-game series at the Rogers Centre on Tuesday night.
He has a better idea now and so do the fans of the Blue Jays as they watched the Braves defeat their team 11-4 Tuesday and show why they are in first place in the National League East.
The short interleague set will end Wednesday afternoon with Atlanta starting right-hander Anibal Sanchez (3-0, 1.93 ERA) against Toronto left-hander J.A. Happ (8-3, 3.48).
“We knew there was a lot of talent here,” said Anthopoulos, who was the GM in Toronto from 2009-2015 before working for the Los Angeles Dodgers and then taking the job at Atlanta this past offseason. “There’s a ton of talent here. Those guys (the previous general managers in Atlanta) deserve all the credit.”
Anthopoulos said part of the plan was to see just how far players like of Freddie Freeman and Nick Markakis could take this club.
“The plan was just to sit back and let these guys play,” Anthopoulos said. “Maybe add some things, bring some information. We had a game plan in the offseason on what we could be doing from a developmental standpoint, how we could potentially make guys better with information that we might provide to them, to the staff, to try to get the most out of their abilities.”
So far it has worked well with Atlanta improving its record to 43-29 while Toronto scuffles in the American League East at 33-39.
Sanchez will be making his eighth appearance of the season, and his seventh start, in the series finale. Last season, while with the Tigers, he was 0-1 with a 10.13 ERA in two starts against the Blue Jays. He is 3-4 with a 5.70 ERA in 12 career appearances (10 starts) against the Blue Jays. His last win against them was July 3, 2015 [url=http://www.officialhockeypanthersshop.com/authentic-adidas-roberto-luongo-jersey]Roberto Luongo Jersey[/url] , at Detroit, when he allowed four runs, three hits and three walks in 7 1/3 innings in the Tigers’ 8-6 victory.
Happ is 3-0 with a 2.42 ERA in eight career games, including seven starts, against Atlanta.
In June, he is 1-0 with a 2.12 ERA in three starts, which is not hurting his trade value as the July 31 deadline approaches. He is considered one of the better candidates among the Blue Jays to be traded, especially since he can be a free agent in the offseason.
Happ did not factor into the decision in his most recent start, June 13 at Tropicana Field, when the Tampa Bay Rays defeated the Blue Jays 1-0.
He threw five scoreless innings, allowing one hit and three walks while striking out three.
“I do feel good out there for sure,” Happ said. “I feel confident, and that’s always a huge thing. I’ll try to keep it rolling, and we’ll try to bounce back.”
The loss on Tuesday ended Toronto’s seven-game winning streak at home. They are 6-3 in interleague games.
The Braves have won three games in a row and six of their past seven as they move to a season-high 14 games over .500. They are 22-16 on the road.
Before the series opener, the Blue Jays put right-handed pitcher Sam Gaviglio on paternity leave — his wife gave birth to a daughter Tuesday — and recalled infielder Lourdes Gurriel Jr. from Triple-A Buffalo. Gurriel did not play on Tuesday.
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