Major League Baseball

Mets aim for sweep of Pirates

PIRATES (46-58) AT METS (49-55)
1:10 p.m. ET; WPIX, ATTSN-PT, MLB.TV

For the second time in three games, a New York Mets starting pitcher will likely be making his final home start Sunday afternoon.

Then again, maybe not.

Left-hander Jason Vargas will look to continue the Mets’ pre-trade deadline surge Sunday when he takes the mound as New York looks to complete a three-game sweep of the reeling Pittsburgh Pirates.

Vargas (5-5, 3.96 ERA) is scheduled to oppose Pirates right-hander Chris Archer (3-7, 5.40).

The Mets won their third straight game Saturday night, when left-hander Steven Matz tossed his first career complete game — a five-hit shutout — as New York beat the Pirates, 3-0.

The win guaranteed the Mets their fourth series win in five tries since the All-Star break and improved their second-half record to 9-5 — a record exceeded in the National League only by the St. Louis Cardinals and San Francisco Giants, both of whom are 12-4.

Of course, the problem for the Mets is their recent surge still leaves them six games under .500 (49-55) and tied for seventh place in the wild-card chase with the San Diego Padres, six games behind the co-leaders, the Chicago Cubs and Washington Nationals.

Still, Mets ownership is historically reluctant to give up on a season and famously indecisive, as evidenced by the reports Saturday the team is considering trading pitcher Noah Syndergaard and acquiring starter Marcus Stroman from the Toronto Blue Jays.

So it wouldn’t be the most stunning thing if the Mets decided to hold on to Vargas and Zack Wheeler, who started Friday and is also due to reach free agency this fall, in hopes of making a long-shot playoff run.

“We can concentrate on winning series,” said Mets outfielder J.D. Davis, who hit a two-run homer Saturday. “(At) the trade deadline, you hear all those rumors and everything, but right now we’re in it, we’re together and we’re still trying to make a push.”

There’s not much evidence to suggest to the Pirates there’s still a playoff berth to be chased. Pittsburgh is 2-13 since the All-Star break, a span in which it’s gone from 2 1/2 games out of first place in the NL Central to last in the division and nine games out of a wild-card spot.

“Unfortunately, we’re in a tough skid right now at a pretty important and crucial part of the season,” said Pirates pitcher Trevor Williams, who took the loss Saturday after allowing three runs over seven innings. “I’m confident we’re going to get out of this. I’m confident guys are going to step up and play and I think a lot of us in this clubhouse are confident it’s going to happen.”

Vargas earned the win Tuesday, when he allowed just one hit over six scoreless innings as the Mets beat the Padres, 5-2. Archer took the defeat Tuesday, when he gave up four runs over six innings in the Pirates’ 4-3 loss to the Cardinals.

Vargas is 1-0 with an 8.10 ERA in five career games (two starts) against the Pirates. Archer didn’t factor into the decision in his lone start against the Mets on Aug. 9, 2015, when he allowed three runs over six innings in the Tampa Bay Rays’ 4-3 win.

–Field Level Media

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