(AP) — While Terry Collins is finding solace in the New York Mets’ position atop the NL East, the Baltimore Orioles are in a much tighter race for an AL wild-card spot.
Jacob deGrom looks to help extend the Mets’ division lead with another sterling performance Tuesday night against the Orioles.READ MORE: Jury Acquits Man Of Murder Of Baltimore Anti-Violence Advocate Dante Barksdale
New York (63-55) is starting a nine-game road trip after falling 8-1 to Pittsburgh on Sunday to mark a six-game season sweep against a potential postseason opponent.
Thanks to second-place Washington’s six-game slide, however, the Mets have maintained a 4 1/2-game lead in the East.
“I believe it in my heart, as I’m sitting here, if any of you guys in this room would’ve told me on May 15th that with 44 games left in the season, we’d have a 4 1/2 game lead, I’d take it,” Collins said.
DeGrom’s last six starts have ended in New York wins, and the right-hander (11-6, 2.03 ERA) is 3-0 with a 1.32 ERA and 10.98 strikeouts per nine innings in that span. He struck out 10 and yielded two hits in seven innings of Wednesday’s 3-0 win over Colorado.
In his start against Baltimore (61-56) on May 6, deGrom allowed one run with nine strikeouts in seven innings of a 5-1 home win to help New York sweep that two-game set.
DeGrom enters this one with a 5-1 record and 1.42 ERA in his past seven road outings after losing his first three behind a 6.75 ERA.
The Mets are expected to have Lucas Duda back in the lineup for the first time in seven games after he missed time with a lumbar strain. The first baseman is batting .197 with three homers and 14 RBIs on the road compared to .295 with 18 and 41 at home. He was 1 for 8 against the Orioles in May.
New York is riding an eight-game winning streak in the all-time series, including a three-game sweep from June 11-13, 2010, during its previous visit to Camden Yards.READ MORE: Baltimore County Firefighters Rescue Person Trapped In Mud Near NCR Trail
The Orioles own a slight lead on Texas and the Los Angeles Angels in the race for the AL’s second wild-card spot.
They opened this 10-game homestand by taking four straight against Oakland after Steve Clevenger’s three-run homer in the fourth was the difference in Monday’s 4-2 victory.
Clevenger, recalled from Triple-A Norfolk on Friday, has five hits and four RBIs over the last two games.
“It feels great, especially this time of year,” Clevenger said. “Right now, we’re in the playoff race. Anything I can do to help the team. We’re on a good streak right now.”
Jonathan Schoop and Manny Machado are also hot. Schoop went 5 for 10 in the last two games, while Machado is 4 for 8 with two doubles and three RBIs. Machado’s .378 average over the past 10 has followed a .216 mark over the previous 12. Schoop is hitting .400 in the last 15 contests, upping his season average 54 points to .310.
Machado had a solo homer among his three hits against the Mets in May and went 2 for 3 versus deGrom.
Kevin Gausman (2-4, 4.48) is 1-0 while yielding two runs in 21 innings over three home starts compared to 0-4 with a 7.24 ERA in five on the road.
The right-hander allowed three runs with a career-high eight strikeouts at Seattle on Wednesday, but that came opposite Hisashi Iwakuma’s no-hitter in a 3-0 loss.
He struck out Duda and Michael Cuddyer in a perfect inning of relief in his only meeting with the Mets on May 6.MORE NEWS: Maryland Weather: Clouds & More Clouds, Plus Friday's An Alert Day
Gausman has struggled against Yoenis Cespedes, who is 3 for 9 with a homer off him.