The New York Mets haven't exactly been tearing the cover off the ball, but they had enough timely hitting this week to secure a series victory over the reigning National League champions.
The Mets (12-10), opening the final series of their season high-tying 10-game homestand, are hitting .187 with six extra-base hits during a 4-1 stretch. But they were 7 for 21 with runners in scoring position in their three wins in a four-game series with St. Louis.
Daniel Murphy drove in the go-ahead run in the sixth inning of Thursday's 4-1 victory, while Curtis Granderson added an RBI single in the next frame as a pinch hitter. Granderson came in batting .125 on the season with one hit in his last seven games and was replaced in the lineup by Bobby Abreu, who was 1 for 3 in his first big league start since July 25, 2012, with the Dodgers.
"It's been a long time," said Abreu, whose 2,348 games played rank behind only Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter among active players. "It was kind of exciting. At first I had to calm down my emotions and just go out there and play the game."
Offense could be tough to come by against Alvarez (1-2, 2.66 ERA), who has not given up more than three earned runs in any of his four starts. He recorded his third career shutout and first victory of the season Saturday, surrendering two hits in a 7-0 win over Seattle. The right-hander didn't issue a walk after allowing seven over his previous 14 2-3 innings.
Alvarez gave up six runs in five innings to lose his first career start against the Mets in 2012, but held them to a combined two runs and 10 hits over 14 1-3 innings in two matchups last season and won both.
Miami (10-12) could use a strong outing from Alvarez given its recent ineptitude at the plate. The Marlins have seven runs and 24 hits over their last four games, going homerless in three of them after hitting at least one in 10 straight contests. They struck out 41 times while dropping two of three in Atlanta this week despite outhitting the Braves 20-19 and posting a collective 2.08 ERA.
Giancarlo Stanton is 2 for 18 over his last five with nine strikeouts and just one RBI, though his 27 RBIs still lead the majors.
"First things first, you've got to put the ball in play," Stanton told the team's website. "Even if you have bad contact or something doesn't go right, if you put it in play, something can happen."
Stanton, though, is 4 for 36 with 14 strikeouts over his last 10 games versus the Mets. Christian Yelich is batting .179 in eight career matchups against them but enters on a 17-game hitting streak.
Taking the hill for New York will be Zack Wheeler (1-2, 4.63), who has had three quality starts in four outings. He gave up three runs over six innings in a 4-3, 14-inning win over Atlanta on Sunday.
Wheeler limited Miami to two runs and three hits in seven innings of a 4-2 road victory in his eighth career start July 30, going without a decision.
The Marlins, who are a big league-worst 1-8 away from home, have dropped 16 of their last 23 at Citi Field.