- The worst start of Johan Santana’s career came at a most inopportune time, with the Mets attempting to earn a Subway Series win over the Yankees. Instead, Santana came away beaten, battered for a career-high nine earned runs in three innings. He is now 4-2 with a 6.50 ERA over his past six starts, after starting the season 4-2 with a 0.78 ERA in his first seven starts. Nor does the schedule do any favors for Santana, who will face the Rays on Saturday afternoon. In his last start against them in 2007, Santana allowed four runs in seven innings.
- Santana was almost untouchable through the first two months of the season, going 7-2 with a 1.77 ERA and striking out 86 in 66 innings. The two-time AL Cy Young Award winner has looked like a different pitcher lately, losing two of his last three starts. None was worse than Sundayâ€™s outing at Yankee Stadium, when he gave up a career-high nine runs in three-plus innings of a 15-0 loss.
But there have been other troubling signs for the southpaw, who allowed four home runs in his previous outing June 9 at Philadelphia. In his last three starts, he has an uncharacteristically low eight strikeouts in 16 innings, and his velocity was down around 90 mph Sunday.
- While pitching coach Dan Warthen said there could be a problem with his delivery, Santana (8-4, 3.29 ERA) said the reason for his struggles isnâ€™t the back injury that bothered him earlier this season. â€œI battled through some soreness here and there before, but I feel fine,â€ Santana said. â€œI think Iâ€™m fine. You start the season with those numbers and everyone expects you to keep (them) that way.â€
- The Rays and Mets hadnâ€™t met in eight years before Friday, but while with Minnesota, Santana has made seven previous starts against Tampa Bay. Heâ€™s 3-2 with a 2.66 ERA, although all of those appearances came when the Rays were almost perennially a last-place team in the AL East. New York has won back-to-back games just once since May 30, but Fridayâ€™s 5-3 triumph in the series opener pulled the team within two games of Philadelphia in the NL East.
- The RaysÂ expected to be in better position after winning the AL pennant last year, but theyâ€™ve been plagued by inconsistency lately. With the most productive offense in the majors, Tampa Bay had won six straight after taking the opener of a series with the Rockies earlier this week, but it has now been held to three runs in each of its last three games, all losses.
- Already this month, the Rays have winning streaks of four and six and a pair of three-game losing streaks, this after dropping five in a row from May 24-28. Theyâ€™ll turn to James Shields in hopes of ending their latest slide. The right-hander will be pitching on the road for the first time since May 24 after making his last four starts at home. Since the beginning of last season, Shields is 6-9 with a 4.62 ERA on the road as opposed to 13-4 and a 2.74 mark at home. Shields has never faced the Mets, who have won 13 of their last 18 at their new ballpark.