Few clubs have played more poorly recently than the San Diego Padres and New York Mets. The Padres' already anemic offense is seemingly getting even worse, while the Mets' bullpen has been extremely vulnerable.
Given San Diego's scoring issues lately at Citi Field, Friday night's series opener with the Mets might not bring the Padres' offense much relief.
The Padres (28-38) have dropped four straight and are an NL-worst 2-8 this month, while the Mets (29-37) are tied with Colorado for second-worst at 3-8 after losing eight of nine.
San Diego is batting .146 in June while averaging 1.7 runs after Thursday's 7-3 defeat at Philadelphia. Everth Cabrera and Carlos Quentin have combined for two hits in their last 55 at-bats, and Yonder Alonso is in a 5-for-33 slump, including 1 for 9 with runners in scoring position.
The Padres' 3.0 runs per game this season are the fewest in the majors since 1972 when the Rangers and California Angels each averaged fewer than three per game.
"It will turn around," manager Bud Black said.
A visit to Queens wouldn't seem to bode well for immediate improvement. San Diego has totaled nine runs and hit .151 while dropping five of its last six contests there, and the Padres have hit just three homers in their last 15 games at Citi Field.
The Mets (29-37) have lost back-to-back games and scored one run in each, but their relievers are as much to blame for the club's failures during its 1-8 stretch. The bullpen owns a 5.40 ERA in that span with two blown saves, and Carlos Torres was charged with four runs in the decisive 13th inning of Thursday's 5-1 loss to Milwaukee.
After having six relievers throw a combined 5 1-3 innings and closer Jenrry Mejia's status in doubt, New York could be stretched thin. Mejia recorded two outs in the 10th but left prior to the 11th with back stiffness.
"A little bit of pain. Let's see how I feel tomorrow," Mejia said. "I hope I feel better."
San Diego starter Andrew Cashner (2-5, 2.13 ERA) looked strong Saturday in his first start since May 13 after being on the disabled list with a sore elbow. He gave up two hits over six shutout innings in a 4-3, 11-inning win over Washington.
"It's good having him back out there," said Cameron Maybin, second on the team with a .284 average but in a 3-for-19 slump. "He's a bulldog. We're confident whenever that guy's out there."
Cashner, whose six-start winless streak is his longest since a seven-game stretch to start his career, is all too familiar with his club's offensive shortcomings. He owns a 1.5 run-support average in those six starts, and his 2.3 average for the season trails only Francisco Liriano's 2.2 mark among pitchers who have thrown at least 60 innings. The Padres have failed to back him with a single run in half of his 10 outings.
Cashner has never started versus the Mets but owns a 2.70 ERA over 6 2-3 innings of relief against them.
He'll be opposed by Bartolo Colon (5-5, 4.31), who is 3-0 with a 1.61 ERA in his last four starts. He's 1-2 with a 1.50 ERA in three career starts against the Padres but has faced them only once since 2006.
Curtis Granderson said he hopes to start Friday after a sore left calf kept him out of New York's lineup Thursday. He drew a walk as a pinch hitter, reaching base safely in his 24th straight game. He's batting .393 over his last nine.
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