NEW YORK -- The only thing standing between the New York Mets and co-ownership of the worst homestand in team history is the best pitcher on the hottest team in baseball.
The Mets will look to avoid making an ignoble entry into the record books Sunday night, when their rough homestand comes to an end with the finale of a three-game series against the New York Yankees at Citi Field.
Mets swingman Seth Lugo (1-1, 2.04 ERA) is scheduled to oppose Yankees ace Luis Severino (9-1, 2.20 ERA) in a battle of right-handers.
The Yankees nudged the Mets closer to the wrong kind of history Saturday night, when they came back from a three-run first-inning deficit to earn a 4-3 victory. The Yankees, who lead the majors with 103 homers, rode the long ball to victory Saturday, when Gleyber Torres hit a solo shot in the third, Miguel Andujar launched a game-tying two-run blast in the sixth and Aaron Judge snapped the tie with a homer leading off the eighth.
The win was the ninth in the last 10 games for the Yankees (42-18), who have the best record in the game and are off to their best 60-game start since 1998. Their run has been fueled by not only superstars such as Judge and Giancarlo Stanton but also powerful rookies Torres, whose 11 homers lead all first-year American League players, and Andujar and Tyler Austin, who are tied for second among rookies with eight homers apiece.
"It's been really fun to see those guys in the biggest spots really just compete really well," Yankees manager Aaron Boone said of Torres and Andujar. "They're just really good at making the necessary adjustments and, in big situations, just have a way of slowing things down. Not surprised to see them really kind of lead the way back for us tonight. We've seen those kind of at-bats from them, really, all season long."
The at-bats for the Mets (27-34) have not been nearly as impressive, especially during an eight-game losing streak that began when they returned home to face the Chicago Cubs on May 31. The Mets have endured only one 0-9 homestand in team history (Sept. 18-23, 1979).
The Mets have scored just 11 runs in the last eight games, including six in the last six games. A three-run first inning Saturday on a solo homer by Todd Frazier and a two-run shot by Asdrubal Cabrera equaled the number of runs the Mets scored in the previous five games.
Things will not get easier Sunday, when Severino, who ranks fourth in the AL in ERA and shares the league lead in wins, takes the mound in search of his eighth straight victorious decision.
Severino are 7-0 with a 1.85 ERA in his last 10 starts and the Yankees are 12-1 in his 13 starts.
But outfielder Brandon Nimmo, who is the only player on the homestand to score multiple runs (four) or hit multiple homers (three), said the Mets will continue keep the faith that better times are imminent.
"Everybody that's played baseball knows that you just go through ruts where sometimes those big hits don't come," Nimmo said. "Just (need) one of those things to go our way and really could start a new streak. Baseball's a funny game like that. And we're just going to try and not sit around and wait for it, we're going to try and make things happen."
Severino won again in his most recent start last Monday, when he allowed two runs (one earned) over eight innings as the Yankees beat the Detroit Tigers, 7-4. He has given up two runs or fewer in 10 of 13 starts this season.
Lugo, who will be making his second start of the season and his first since May 31, last pitched on Tuesday, when he tossed three innings of scoreless one-hit relief against the Baltimore Orioles. He is being pressed into duty because Noah Syndergaard, whom the Mets hoped would come off the disabled list in time to start Sunday, experienced continued swelling in his right index finger during a game of catch Friday.
Severino is 2-0 against the Mets and has not allowed a run in two appearances (one start) spanning 10 2/3 innings. Lugo took the loss in his only appearance against the Yankees on Aug. 1, 2016, when he allowed one run over one inning of relief as the Mets fell, 6-5, in 10 innings.