Mets schedule eases starting with visit from Marlins

Field Level Media

May 10, 2019 at 6:38 am.

Most of the rest of the National League East has done its part to keep the slumping New York Mets from falling too far behind in the division. But the Mets know they need to begin helping themselves out Friday.

The Mets will begin a 13-game stretch against the fourth- and fifth-place teams in the NL East Friday night when they host the basement-dwelling Miami Marlins in the opener of a three-game series.

The Mets’ Zack Wheeler (2-2, 4.64 ERA) is scheduled to oppose Pablo Lopez (2-4, 4.03) in a battle of right-handers.

Both teams enter Friday in the throes of an extended slump. The Mets were off Thursday after falling to the host San Diego Padres 3-2 in the rubber game of a three-game series Wednesday. The Marlins completed a four-game series against the Cubs in Chicago by suffering their third straight defeat in a 4-1 loss at Wrigley Field on Thursday.

New York lost five of six on a road trip to San Diego and Milwaukee and is 4-10 since its last back-to-back wins, on April 22-23. The Mets have scored three runs or fewer in seven of their last eight games and collected a total of seven runs in the six games prior to a 7-6 win over the Padres on Tuesday.

“We have to do better,” Mets manager Mickey Callaway told reporters following Wednesday’s game. “What we’re doing right now is just not acceptable. We can’t all of a sudden score a few runs one game and everything’s OK. We’ve got to continue to do it.”

Only three National League teams — the Marlins, Pittsburgh Pirates and San Francisco Giants — entered Thursday with a worse run differential than the Mets, who have scored 165 runs and allowed 192 runs. But New York is still a manageable 4 1/2 games behind the Philadelphia Phillies, who are the only team in the NL East with a winning record.

Two weeks of games against the Marlins and the fourth-place Washington Nationals could severely impact the Mets’ season. After hosting Miami this weekend, New York visits the two division rivals next week before returning home to face the Nationals in a four-game series scheduled to begin May 20.

“We’ve just got to keep on pitching the best we can and start getting after it and scoring some runs,” Callaway said. “That’s what it’s going to take.”

The Marlins will need a lot more than that to turn around a season that is going as most expected. Miami enters Friday with the worst record in the majors (10-27) and has won consecutive games just twice.

But while the Marlins have lost 10 of 12, they have taken solace in becoming more competitive over the last week. Miami ended a homestand Sunday by falling to the Atlanta Braves 3-1 in 10 innings before beating the Cubs on Monday and suffering walk-off defeats Tuesday and Wednesday.

“I think we’re playing really good,” Marlins second baseman Starlin Castro told reporters following Wednesday’s loss. “The bullpen has been pitching good. The starters are keeping the games close that’s really important. That’s when we will start to turn the page, when the starters keep the game within one run, or the relievers keep the game close. That gives us more chances to score more runs.”

Wheeler didn’t factor into the decision in his most recent start last Saturday, when he gave up two runs over seven innings as the Mets fell to the Brewers, 4-3, in 18 innings.

Lopez also didn’t factor into the decision on Sunday, when he tossed six scoreless innings as the Marlins lost to the Braves 3-1.

Wheeler is 5-2 with a 1.89 ERA in 11 career starts against the Marlins. Lopez’s only appearance against the Mets came in his major league debut last June 30, when he started and earned the win by allowing two runs over six innings as Miami earned a 5-2 victory.