MIAMI (AP) — Pitching has spurred the New York Mets’ recent surge.
That could continue while visiting the punchless Miami Marlins.
The Mets are hoping rookie Jeremy Hefner can keep them rolling with another dazzling effort as they go for a sixth win in seven games Saturday night against the Marlins.
New York’s staff has compiled a 2.00 ERA while holding opponents to a .208 batting average while winning five of six. The bullpen, ranked the worst in baseball with a 4.82 ERA, has allowed just six hits while throwing 13 1-3 scoreless innings in that span.
The Mets (62-70) didn’t need any relievers Friday in the opener of this three-game set as R.A. Dickey tossed a five-hitter and struck out seven in a 3-0 win. The knuckleballer tied the league lead with his 17th win, and became the first Met to reach that number since Al Leiter in 1998.
Hefner (2-5, 4.65 ERA) may be looking to draw some inspiration from Dickey’s outing again.
The right-hander followed Dickey’s previous win with his best performance as a starter in Sunday’s 2-1 victory over Houston. He tossed eight scoreless innings but allowed a run in the ninth before getting an out and did not get a decision.
“Jeremy pitched a great game,” Collins said. “That’s why he deserved to go out there in the ninth inning.”
Hefner entered the rotation as the sixth man last week, and has started eight of his 20 games this year. He’s 1-2 with a 5.16 ERA in four road starts.
His only appearance against the Marlins (59-73) came in relief Aug. 8, issuing a walk in a scoreless inning.
He may be in for another strong performance since Miami has lost five of seven, during which it’s hitting .228 with two homers. The Marlins have hit .176 and scored four runs in those defeats, four coming by shutout.
Josh Johnson (7-11, 4.00) surely wouldn’t mind seeing some production from the bats for a change as he tries to win for the first time since beating Washington on Aug. 3.
The right-hander has a 4.88 ERA in losing a career-worst four straight starts, but he also has gotten a paltry 1.88 runs per game in support. Johnson only had himself to blame last Saturday, getting pounded for six runs and 10 hits – two homers – in three innings of an 8-2 defeat to the Los Angeles Dodgers.
“JJ was off, with everything,” manager Ozzie Guillen told the team’s official website. “Velocity was down.”
Perhaps a home meeting with the Mets can help Johnson end his skid. He’s 5-0 with a 2.09 ERA in seven starts against them there, but he lost the most recent meeting Aug. 9 at Citi Field. Johnson gave up three runs and eight hits in six innings of the 6-1 loss, which started his rough stretch.
Ike Davis, who is 2 for 12 against Johnson, has been giving New York some unexpected punch at the plate. The first baseman is 7 for 21 with three homers and six RBIs in six games after driving in three runs Friday, two coming on his career-high 25th homer.
Despite the recent surge, the third-year pro is batting a career-low .224.