Tuesday's series opener matches RHP Brian Lawrence (5-9, 4.27) against New York's RHP Kris Benson (6-3, 3.57), a matchup that looks less appealing when you consider that Lawrence is 2-0 with an 0.56 ERA in two career starts at Shea Stadium.
But the 29-year-old Lawrence has lost his last three starts – to Houston, Colorado and Arizona – while Benson has showed signs of emerging as the Mets' No. 2 complement to Pedro Martinez.
Though Benson is 0-1 with three no-decisions in his last four starts, it hasn't been his fault. Benson notched quality starts (six innings allowing three runs or less) in all four of those efforts, lowering his ERA from 3.90 on June 21 to its current 3.57. He's allowed seven runs in 20 innings this month, compiling a serviceable 3.15 ERA for July.
Minor League Report
TRIPLE-A NORFOLK: Brian Bannister (1-0) won his Triple-A debut on Monday, allowing the Ottawa Lynx a run and two hits over 5-2/3 innings, striking out four in an eventual 5-1 victory. Though Bannister uncharacteristically walked five – he'd walked no more than three batters in any of his 18 starts for Double-A Binghamton – he was staked to an early lead, as Norfolk put up three runs in the first and had a 5-0 lead by the middle of the third inning. Victor Diaz (.259) cracked his seventh homer for the Tides and Eric Valent (.275) added a two-run double.
DOUBLE-A BINGHAMTON: Rafael Lopez (2-6) struggled on the mound for Binghamton, allowing six runs (four earned) in 3-2/3 innings as the B-Mets fell to visiting New Britain Monday, 11-5. Tim McNab allowed four runs in 2-1/3 innings of relief, while three B-Mets – Wayne Lydon (.228), Jeff Duncan (.247) and Jay Caligiuri (.232) – contributed two-hit contests.
SINGLE-A ST. LUCIE: Vincent Cordova (6-7) went the distance on a complete game seven-hit shutout Monday, leading St. Lucie to a 9-0 victory over Clearwater. It was the first effort longer than seven innings this season for Cordova, who walked one and struck out five, lowering his ERA to 3.68. Andy Wilson (.306) backed Cordova with three RBI, giving him 69 for the year, while Jamar Hill (.228) went 2-for-5 with two runs scored and two RBI.
SINGLE-A HAGERSTOWN: Ambiorix Concepcion (.229) had three hits, including a triple, and Mike Carp (.236) cracked his 19th home run of the year as Hagerstown rolled past West Virginia Monday, 8-2. The Suns were benefited by a strong start from Michael Devaney (6-1), who allowed two runs – both solo homers – and five hits over five innings, striking out a season-high eight batters to earn his sixth win of the year. Joseph Serfass blanked West Virginia over the final three innings to earn a nine-out save, his second.
SINGLE-A BROOKLYN: Jeff Landing (1-4) suffered his fourth consecutive loss, allowing four runs (three earned) and eight hits over six innings in a 4-2, seven-inning defeat to Auburn Monday. Despite posting a 2.17 ERA in five home starts at Brooklyn, Landing hasn't won since June 26 against Aberdeen. Ivan Naccarata (.265) and Drew Butera (.086) had runs batted in for Brooklyn.
ROOKIE-LEAGUE KINGSPORT: Greg Gonzalez (.325) continued his hot hitting, going 3-for-4 with a double and two runs scored, and David Wabick (.207) contributed a pair of RBI as Kingsport defeated Greeneville Monday, 7-2. Since joining the K-Mets from Brooklyn, the 22-year-old Gonzalez has had three games in which he's collected three hits and is batting .529 (9-17) at home. Jeramy Simmons allowed two runs over five innings in the start, with Jim Wladyka (1-2) earning his first win with three innings of scoreless relief, allowing two hits and striking out two around a walk.
ROOKIE-LEAGUE GULF COAST: Greg Cain (.172) went 2-for-4 with a pair of runs scored, and Daniel Cummins (.263) and Yasmil Bucce (.255) both added two more hits as the GCL Mets rolled past the GCL Marlins Monday, 6-1. Robert Manuel (4-0) pitched the last five innings, blanking the Marlins while striking out seven and allowing three hits, lowering his ERA to 0.86. Manuel has now gone five innings in both of his last two appearances, and he's allowed one earned run on 12 hits while striking out 14 in his last 14.1 innings.