Marlins - Mets Wednesday Game Preview

With their epic slide finally at an end, the New York Mets hope to get a streak of a different kind going when they host the Florida Marlins today at 7:10 p.m. After Tuesday's 11-5 victory in the second game of a doubleheader ended a now-National League-record 15-game home losing streak, New York looks to Pedro Astacio to bounce back from a rough stretch and keep things moving in the right direction.

Astacio, the Mets' best starter through much of the season, has dropped to 11-8 with four straight losses. In that stretch, which covers 19 2/3 innings, Astacio's ERA has gone up a full run from 2.95 to 3.95 with ugly losses to St. Louis, Los Angeles, Colorado and Philadelphia.

He'll be making his fourth start against the Marlins, still looking for his first decision. In 14 1/3 innings, he's given up seven runs and 17 hits. But the Mets have won two of the three games in which Astacio has started.

The Marlins counter with Julian Tavarez. The veteran right-hander is 10-10 with a high 5.29 ERA, but has actually pitched better lately. It's been a real roller-coaster ride for Tavarez, who started the season 1-3, then won six of seven decisions to improve to 7-4. He then lost his next five starts, but has rebounded again to win three of four.

Against the Mets this season, Tavarez is 2-0, winning 7-3 on June 2 with six effective innings, and riding strong run support in a 9-7 win on July 4 in which he allowed five runs and nine hits in six innings. Both starts were in Florida.

The Mets got vivid proof of the value of Mike Piazza Tuesday, as he returned from missing five games with two hits in the first game of the doubleheader and a pinch three-run homer in the nightcap.

But how much longer he'll be able to contribute is anyone's guess. Piazza will see a hand specialist Thursday for his injured left wrist, and though he doesn't want to shut it down for 2002, he and the Mets will have to decide on his status once the report comes back.

-- Another injured Met, pitcher Grant Roberts, threw 50 pitches in a simulated game before Tuesday's doubleheader and may be closer to returning. Roberts, sidelined since mid-July with tendonitis in his pitching shoulder, is expected to throw again Friday, with a decision on his status for the rest of the season to come based partly on that outing.

-- Rookie OF Raul Gonzalez continued to swing a hot bat with three hits in the Mets' win, improving his average with the team to .389 (14-for-36) and .333 overall this season (20-for-59). He now has five multi-hit games in nine starts for the Mets.

-- Mo Vaughn, Jeromy Burnitz and Edgardo Alfonzo should all be happy to see Tavarez on the mound today. In his careeer, Vaughn is 9-for-18 against Tavarez, while Alfonzo is 6-for-10. Burnitz may not have as high an average, going 7-for-18 (.389) but he can count three homers and two doubles among the seven hits, and has seven career RBIs.

Against Astacio, Luis Castillo (.406), Mike Lowell (.444) and Andy Fox (.375) are the only effective Marlins hitters.

Injuries


Marlins
Benito Baez - 60 Day DL as of 3/29
Alex Gonzalez - 60 Day DL as of 5/20
Josh Beckett - 15 Day DL as of 8/23

Mets
Grant Roberts - 15 Day DL as of 7/13
John Franco - Season - as of 3/20
Kane Davis - Season - as of 5/14
Mike Piazza - Day to Day - Wrist
Tony Tarasco - Day To Day - Ankle

Last Trade Between Florida-Mets


November 20, 1998....The New York Mets traded Jorge Fabregas to the Florida Marlins for Oscar Henriquez.

Mets On This Date Last Year


September 2 - Lose vs. Marlins 5-1, 65-72, 8.5GB Of Atlanta
September 3 - Win vs. Phillies 10-7, 66-72, 8.5GB Of Atlanta
September 4 - Win vs. Phillies 5-3, 67-72, 8.5GB Of Atlanta

Former Fish


Al Leiter (1996-1997)
Mike Piazza (1998)
David Weathers (1998)

Previous Meetings In 2002


May
Fri. 24 @ New York: Mets won 5-4
Sat. 25 @ New York: Mets lose 6-5
Sun. 26 @ New York: Mets won 3-0
Mon. 27 @ New York: Mets lose 5-3

May/June
Fri. 31 @ Florida: Mets won 6-5
Sat. 1 @ Florida: Mets lose 9-7
Sun. 2 @ Florida: Mets lose 7-3

July
Thu. 4 @ Florida: Mets lose 9-7
Fri. 5 @ Florida: Mets won 5-3
Sat. 6 @ Florida: Mets lose 5-2
Sun. 7 @ Florida: Mets won 9-3
Mon. 15 @ New York: Mets won 8-3
Tue. 16 @ New York: Mets won 10-5
August
Tue. 27 @ Florida: Mets won 10-5
Wed. 28 @ Florida: Mets lose 7-3



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