NEW YORK — The Los Angeles Dodgers aren’t currently occupying a playoff spot [url=http://www.authenticsarizonacardinals.com/cheap-mason-cole-jersey]Mason Cole Color Rush Jersey[/url] , but manager Dave Roberts spoke confidently Wednesday about playing in the postseason. New York Mets manager Mickey Callaway, on the other hand, is beginning to sound like a skipper who knows his team will be long forgotten by October.
Two teams headed in opposite directions will square off for the first time this season Friday night when the Mets host the Dodgers in the opener of a three-game series at Citi Field.
Right-hander Zack Wheeler (2-5, 4.82 ERA) is scheduled to take the mound for the Mets against Dodgers left-hander Alex Wood (2-5, 4.22).
Both teams are coming off series-deciding losses. The Mets suffered their third straight defeat Thursday when they fell to the host Colorado Rockies 6-4 in the finale of a four-game set. The visiting Dodgers were off Thursday after losing to the Chicago Cubs 4-0 in the last game of a three-game series Wednesday afternoon.
The series loss was the first in 10 series for the Dodgers (38-35), who are 21-9 since dropping two of three to the Miami Marlins from May 15 to May 17. The hot streak vaulted them from fourth place in the National League West to second place during the surge and gained 5 1/2 games on the first-place Arizona Diamondbacks, who hold a 2 1/2 game lead heading into Friday’s action.
In addition, Los Angeles has moved two games behind the Washington Nationals in the race for the second NL wild card.
The Dodgers did all this despite getting little to no contributions from stars such as Justin Turner, Clayton Kershaw and Rich Hill, all of whom have been on the disabled list for the last five weeks, and Cody Bellinger, who has struggled most of the season. No wonder Roberts sounded so confident after Wednesday’s loss.
“We’re going to be somewhere in October,” Roberts told reporters. “I can’t speak to the opponent [url=http://www.authenticsarizonacardinals.com/cheap-chase-edmonds-jersey]Chase Edmonds Color Rush Jersey[/url] , but we’re going to be somewhere.”
It will take a miracle for the Mets (31-41) to be anywhere but a golf course when the playoffs begin. New York, which has lost 40 of 60 since an 11-1 start, is 11 1/2 games out of first place in the NL East and 8 1/2 games back in the wild-card race.
The Mets’ slide has been marked by extreme highs and lows on both sides of the ball. They have scored 42 runs in the last six games, a span in which the pitching staff posted a 5.14 ERA.
New York scored just 42 runs in 17 games from May 28 through June 15, during which its pitchers posted a 4.13 ERA.
“There’s no magic pill or magic wand to make everything sync up at the same time,” Callaway told reporters Thursday afternoon. “I think that’s been the tale of our season so far. Even when we’re not winning games, we have a part of us that’s going good. We just have trouble getting (everything) to sync up at the same time so we can get on a good run again.”
Wheeler didn’t factor into the decision in his most recent start on Sunday, when he gave up two runs in six innings as the Mets beat the Arizona Diamondbacks 5-3. Wood won the last time he took the mound last Saturday when he allowed one run in 5 1/3 innings in the Dodgers’ 3-1 victory over the San Francisco Giants.
Wheeler lost his lone career start against the Dodgers on June 19, 2017, when he surrendered seven runs in two innings as the Mets fell 10-6. Wood is 0-3 with a 3.94 ERA in eight career starts against the Mets.
If the Houston Astros are heading into a two-game series against rival Texas with the idea that they’ll be able to push around the rebuilding Rangers and get back on track after three straight losses, maybe it’s time to think again.
The Astros will send struggling left-hander Dallas Keuchel (4-8, 4.22 ERA) to the mound in the first game of the series on Tuesday at Globe Life Park in Arlington. Texas will counter with right-hander Austin Bibens-Dirkx (1-1, 3.57).
Houston lost three straight games in Tampa Bay last weekend [url=http://www.authenticsatlantafalcons.com/cheap-calvin-ridley-jersey]Calvin Ridley Color Rush Jersey[/url] , including a 3-2 setback on Sunday, and dropped its first series since May 28-30 at Yankee Stadium.
The Astros were 0-for-4 with runners in scoring position on Sunday and 0-for-14 in the series. Houston managed just seven runs in the four-game series — all on homers, including two solo shots Sunday by Evan Gattis.
It was the Astros’ fewest runs in a four-game series on the road since they scored five at Tropicana Field against the Rays in 2014.
“We didn’t do enough to win the game or the series,” Astros manager AJ Hinch told mlb.com. “We made some mental errors, we had some big moments that they executed some pitches. One-run games, a couple of losses this series, are tough to swallow. We’ll take it to the next city, but this one sucks.”
The Rangers, meanwhile, have been as hot as the triple-digit temperatures in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex. Texas is 12-6 since the Astros swept a four-game series from them in Arlington on June 7-10 and have won a season-best five straight series, including taking two of three games last weekend at home against the White Sox.
Texas ended that series with a 10-5 loss on Sunday in which ace starter Cole Hamels struggled, allowing a season-high seven earned runs and nine hits, which matched his high for the year.
Hamels [url=http://www.authenticsbuffalobills.com/cheap-josh-allen-jersey]Josh Allen Color Rush Jersey[/url] , who has been the constant subject of trade talks for the past month, said afterward that he was blocking out that talk and it had no effect on his performance.
“It’s not a big deal. It’s out of my control,” Hamels said. “I have to go and pitch, and hopefully that’ll be the last time I have to answer that question.”
Keuchel took a no-decision in his last start on June 27 against Toronto, allowing six runs and seven hits in 5 1/3 innings of the Astros’ 7-6 comeback victory. He surrendered five runs in the first inning before settling in to pitch five scoreless innings.
Keuchel, the 2015 AL Cy Young Award winner and a 2-time All-Star (2015, 2017), will make his 18th start of the season and third against the Rangers this year. He is 9-9 with a 4.03 ERA in 25 career games, all starts, against Texas and is 1-1 with a 4.15 ERA in 17 1/3 innings versus the Rangers in 2018.
Keuchel has not been as successful this season as over the past four seasons but he’s still inducing a high ground ball rate and soft contact. He leads the AL in groundball to fly-ball ratio (2.64), while ranking third in soft contact percentage (23.1 percent).
Bibens-Dirkx will make his fifth start of the season and his first start against the Astros. He’s coming off a no-decision against the San Diego Padres on Tuesday, when he allowed two hits and struck out six in five scoreless innings in a game that San Diego won 3-2. Bibens-Dirkx is 0-1 with a 3.18 ERA at home this season.
Bibens-Dirkx was recalled from Triple-A Round Rock before his June 20 start against Kansas City for his second stint with Texas in 2018. He will be working on regular four days’ rest; the Rangers are 2-2 in his four starts this season.