- On the strength of his victory over the Yankees last Saturday, Nieve has earned another start. Making a spot start at Yankee Stadium in place of John Maine, the former Astros farmhand allowed two runs over 6 2/3 innings, keeping the Yankees contained in their homer-happy ballpark and serving up just four hits in all. The outing marked his first start — and his first win — since 2006. Not coincidentally, Nieve has never faced the Rays.
- The Mets rank 28th in the majors in homers with 41 – Carlos Beltran and Gary Sheffield lead with eight apiece – but may see that total rise. Sonnanstine has allowed seven homers in his last three starts and 13 in his past seven.
- New York could use a quality start from Nieve after losing for the sixth time in eight games on Thursday. The Mets led 4-3 heading into the ninth, but Baltimore took advantage of closer Francisco Rodriguezâ€™s second blown save in a 5-4 victory
- Sonnanstine did a nice job staying in command against the Nationals on Saturday, not letting some early mishaps get him too rattled. He pitched into the eighth inning for just the second time this season, and actually retired 15 batters in a row between the third and seventh innings. He’s still struggling with the long ball and he hasn’t had back-to-back strong starts since early May. He’ll try to break that streak against the Mets.
- No starting pitcher has a higher ERA than Tampa Bayâ€™s Andy Sonnanstine, a troubling sign for an injury-plagued team that has hopes of returning to the World Series. As long as the Rays are facing NL opponents, however, giving the ball to him shouldnâ€™t be a concern. Sonnanstine has won six consecutive interleague decisions, a string of success Tampa Bay would love to see continue Friday night as it opens a three-game series at Citi Field against the New York Mets.
- Sonnanstine became a fixture in the back end of the Raysâ€™ rotation last season, pitching nearly 200 innings and posting a respectable 4.38 ERA in 32 starts as Tampa Bay (35-33) made its first postseason appearance.But with star left-hander Scott Kazmir among a slew of key players on the disabled list, Sonnanstine hasnâ€™t been able to step up and duplicate that success. Heâ€™s 4-0 with a 4.15 ERA at home but is a woeful 1-6 with an 8.55 ERA on the road, where heâ€™s allowed opponents to hit .343. Still, Sonnanstine has been an interleague workhorse. Heâ€™s 7-2 with a 3.88 ERA in 10 career starts against the NL, and 2-0 with a 2.70 ERA this season.
- Sonnanstine could use some support from his lineup, which put up three runs as Tampa Bay dropped its last two games in Colorado after winning 12-4 on Tuesday. The Rays only scored once before the ninth inning in a 4-3 loss on Thursday. Tampa Bay is 1-24 when it fails to score more than three runs.
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