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NEW YORK — The New York Mets and Tampa Bay Rays will experience what it’s like to look across the field and feel as if they’re staring into a mirror for the last time this season on Sunday afternoon when the teams play the rubber game of a three-game series at Citi Field.

The Mets’ Chris Flexen (0-1 [url=http://www.greenbaypackersteamonline.com/oren-burks-jersey]Authentic Oren Burks Jersey[/url] , 10.80 ERA) is scheduled to face the Rays’ Nathan Eovaldi (2-3, 3.92) in a battle of right-handers.

The Rays posted a 3-0 win Saturday afternoon when ace left-hander Blake Snell tossed 7 1/3 strong innings and Wilson Ramos collected two RBIs.

The Mets and Rays have combined for just nine runs in the first two games, four of which were registered when New York’s Jose Bautista hit a walk-off grand slam to lift the Mets to a 5-1 win on Friday night. The teams had just eight hits in 77 plate appearances with runners on base on Friday and Saturday.

Such struggles have become routine for the Rays and Mets, who ranked 26th and 27th in the majors in runs scored after Saturday’s game — during which Tampa Bay moved past New York.

The offensive woes have threatened to negate the strong work of both pitching staffs. The Rays (44-44) have a 2.77 ERA since May 19, when they began infusing their rotation with the “opener” in select games.

“I think that with the way we’ve pitched, we find ourselves being in a lot of ballgames,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said before Saturday’s game. “But when the bats are quiet, it just becomes really, really tough to find ways to win ballgames.”

Starting pitchers for the Mets (35-50), meanwhile, have a 2.25 ERA in the last six games and a 3.94 ERA this year. New York’s three most utilized starters — Jacob deGrom [url=http://www.greenbaypackersteamonline.com/marquez-valdes-scantling-jersey]Authentic Marquez Valdes-Scantling Jersey[/url] , Zack Wheeler and Steven Matz — are 11-16 despite a 3.06 ERA in 51 games.

“If we win just five games of deGrom’s and Matz’s and Wheeler’s — and that’s being conservative — we’re right where we want to be,” Mets manager Mickey Callaway said after Saturday’s game. “And it just hasn’t happened.”

Flexen will make his first start of the season and his first appearance since June 24, when he took the loss after giving up one run in one inning as the Mets fell to the Los Angeles Dodgers 8-7 in 11 innings. He hasn’t started in the majors since last Oct 1, when Flexen allowed six runs (five earned) in 1 1/3 innings as New York fell to the Philadelphia Phillies 11-0 in the season finale.

Eovaldi didn’t factor into the decision in his most recent start Monday, when he gave up two runs in six innings as the Rays fell to the Miami Marlins 3-2 in 10 innings. He has allowed two runs or fewer three times in seven starts this season but has surrendered at least four runs three other times.

Flexen has never faced the Rays. Eovaldi is 1-4 with a 5.01 ERA in nine career starts against the Mets.

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Adds: BBO–ADVANCE SCOUTING for Friday [url=http://www.jacksonvillejaguarsteamonline.com/ronnie-harrison-jersey]Authentic Ronnie Harrison Jersey[/url] , June 30.



THURSDAY, June 28

HKN–HURRICANES-BRIND’AMOUR’S HOME

RALEIGH, N.C. -Rod Brind’Amour came to Carolina in 2000- and never left. He worked his way up from key trade acquisition to captain of a Stanley Cup-winning team to the front office to assistant coach and, now, head coach. Along the way, he became as much a part of North Carolina’s landscape as NASCAR and barbecue – even coaching his son’s T-ball and youth hockey teams in his spare time without drawing much attention. He’s also one of only four coaches in the four major pro sports to earn the top job of the team with which he won a championship as a player. By Joedy McCreary. UPCOMING: 800 words, photos by 3 a.m. Thursday.

BBN–METS MELTDOWN-NOW WHAT?

NEW YORK – With the New York Mets sinking fast toward the bottom of the National League standings, baseball operations were turned over Tuesday to a trio of Sandy Alderson’s assistants when the general manager made the stunning announcement that he was stepping down because his cancer has returned. John Ricco, J.P. Ricciardi and Omar Minaya have decades of front office experience between them, both in New York and elsewhere around the majors. But it might take all three of them to clean up this mess – and time is of the essence. By Baseball Writer Mike Fitzpatrick. UPCOMING: 800 words, photos by noon Thursday.

FRIDAY [url=http://www.jacksonvillejaguarsteamonline.com/logan-cooke-jersey]Authentic Logan Cooke Jersey[/url] , June 29

BBO–ADVANCE SCOUTING

OAKLAND, Calif. – Buck Showalter receives regular calls from veteran, out-of-work scouts looking for jobs. Longtime baseball men who once hit the road ahead of their clubs to offer detailed insight of upcoming opponents are largely no longer as advance scouting for many teams has turned to technology: video and analytics. Showalter’s Baltimore Orioles don’t have an advance scout working in the ballpark. Same for World Series champion Houston, Minnesota and Oakland. Advance scouting may not be a thing of the past, but the methods have changed dramatically. ”Advance scouting by humans is history,” said Mets scout Shooty Babitt. By Janie McCauley. UPCOMING: 900 words, photos by 2 a.m.

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