The New York Mets haven't won back-to-back games in more than a month. Pulling off the feat Saturday night would extend the Arizona Diamondbacks' May misery while giving the Mets hope they can play meaningful baseball late in the season.
The Mets will look to author that long-awaited winning streak when they host the Diamondbacks in the middle game of a three-game series at Citi Field. New York earned a 3-1 victory Friday night, when Jacob deGrom tied a career high with 13 strikeouts and Michael Conforto tied a career high with four hits, including a pair of RBI singles.
The Mets' Steven Matz (1-3, 3.86 ERA) is scheduled to oppose the Diamondbacks' Patrick Corbin (4-1, 2.53 ERA) in a battle of left-handers Saturday.
For Matz, it will be his first start since Mets manager Mickey Callaway decided to break up his power right-handers -- deGrom and Noah Syndergaard -- in the rotation. Syndergaard is scheduled to start Sunday's series finale for New York (21-19), which was 11-1 through April 14 but has since gone 10-18, a stretch in which it has failed to record consecutive wins.
In theory, separating the hard-throwers should give opposing teams a different look and present Matz, whose fastball tops out at around 93 mph, with a bit of an advantage. But Callaway knows all the rotation maneuvering in the world won't help the Mets if Matz, right-hander Zack Wheeler and left-hander Jason Vargas don't start pitching better. The trio has a 6.29 ERA in 17 starts, compared to the 2.45 ERA fashioned by deGrom and Syndergaard in 18 starts.
"It'll only help if the other guys step up," Callaway said Friday night. "We talked to them in spring training -- and I probably shouldn't say this to you guys -- and I told them, hey, whether it's fair or not, our season's going to go on how you guys go. That's just the reality of this game. There's pressure. We all have pressure, you guys have pressure. That's part of baseball, especially in New York. And they've got to get the job done for us to be a good team."
The pressure is building on the Diamondbacks (25-19), whose eighth loss in the last nine games and 11th in 16 May games included a pair of costly miscues.
Both runs the Mets scored in the first inning were unearned thanks to an error by second baseman Daniel Descalso. The Diamondbacks scored their only run in the sixth, when Jake Lamb was thrown out for the second out trying to extend his RBI double into a triple.
"The type of season we're going through, the things that we're walking through right now are part of the baseball season, they're part of the grind," Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo said Friday night. "We hurt, I hurt with these guys and they hurt individually. We hurt as a group. We are trying every single day to do our very best, and at some point, it's going to turn."
The Diamondbacks will likely be without starting right fielder Steven Souza on Saturday after he exited Friday's game due to right pectoral discomfort. Souza, who battled a right pectoral injury during spring training, is scheduled to undergo an MRI on Saturday.
The Mets also absorbed some bad injury news Friday, when the team announced center fielder Juan Lagares will undergo what is expected to be season-ending surgery on the big toe on his left foot. Lagares suffered a complete tear of the ligament in the toe while making a catch against the wall in Wednesday's game against the Toronto Blue Jays.
Due to a rainout and a pair of scheduled off-days, Matz hasn't pitched since May 11, when he didn't factor into the decision after he allowed one run over five innings in the Mets' 3-1 win over the Philadelphia Phillies.
Corbin suffered his first loss in his most recent start Monday, when he gave up a season-high four runs over six innings as the Diamondbacks fell to the Milwaukee Brewers, 7-2.
Matz will be making his second career start against the Diamondbacks. He didn't factor into the decision on Aug. 9, 2016, when he gave up two runs over six innings as the Mets fell, 5-3.
Corbin is 1-3 with a 4.95 ERA in seven career games (six starts) against the Mets.