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Preview: Mets at Pirates

By By The Sports Xchange
Published On: Jun 26 2014 02:38:35 AM CDT
Updated On: Jun 26 2014 02:38:36 AM CDT

The Pittsburgh Pirates are languishing at the .500 mark, but they have a chance to make a move in the standings when they kick off a 10-game homestand on Thursday against three teams sitting near the bottom of their respective divisions. First up for the Pirates is a four-game series with the New York Mets, who won two of three at home against Pittsburgh a month ago. The Pirates had their four-game winning streak snapped in a 5-1 defeat at Tampa Bay on Wednesday.Pittsburgh is getting reinforcements back for the series, with ace Gerrit Cole set to start Saturday following a three-week stint on the disabled list and left fielder Starling Marte passing a concussion test Wednesday. The Mets also are getting a key piece back in the lineup with the expected return of leadoff hitter Juan Lagares, who has been sidelined for more than three weeks with a right intercostal strain. New York had its three-game winning streak halted by Oakland on Wednesday.TV: 7:10 p.m. ET, SNY (New York), ROOT (Pittsburgh)PITCHING MATCHUP: Mets RH Daisuke Matsuzaka (3-1, 2.68 ERA) vs. Pirates RH Vance Worley (1-0, 1.98)Matsuzaka absorbed his first defeat at Miami last time out despite allowing one run and six hits over 5 1/3 innings in his fifth start of the season. His previous outing lasted only one inning due to illness, but he went six strong innings against Milwaukee on June 10, permitting one run on three hits. Matsuzaka has struggled in his 10 appearances (three starts) away from home, striking out 18 and walking 15 in 21 1/3 innings.Worley pitched seven scoreless innings at Miami on June 15 in his season debut and followed that up with 6 2/3 frames of three-run ball in a 5-3 win at the Chicago Cubs last time out. Worley saw plenty of the Mets from his days in Philadelphia, posting a 3-4 mark and 6.84 ERA in 10 appearances (eight starts). New York's Daniel Murphy has tormented the former Philadelphia pitcher, going 12-for-17 against him.WALK-OFFS1. Pirates CF Andrew McCutchen, who is riding a five-game hitting streak, owns a .322 batting average against New York.2. Mets OF Chris Young had three homers and four RBIs in the two-game set versus Oakland.3. Worley was the Opening Day starter for Minnesota in 2013 but endured a miserable year, finishing 1-5 with a 7.21 ERA.PREDICTION: Pirates 4, Mets 3

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