One day after the New York Mets saw one of their young hurlers suffer through a rough home debut, veteran Shaun Marcum hopes to build off his first win of the season on Monday night in the opener of a four-game set versus the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Signed to a one-year deal this past offseason to add depth to the Mets' rotation, Marcum lost his first nine decisions and took the mound last Wednesday looking to avoid becoming the first Mets pitcher to start a season 0-10 since Anthony Young in 1993. He did just that with a gem against the Chicago White Sox.
The 31-year-old Marcum scattered four hits and two walks over eight scoreless frames of a 3-0 win, improving to 1-9 on the year with a 5.08 earned run average in 12 games (10 starts).
"It's huge," said Mets manager Terry Collins. "Everybody's got pride in the big leagues. Nobody likes to look at a zero in the win column. He knows and we know that doesn't belong there. I think this is a big kick start for Shaun."
The right-hander is 1-0 in two previous meetings with the Diamondbacks despite a 5.73 ERA.
The Mets hope Marcum can help them avoid losing two straight for the first time since a three-game slide from June 13-15. They dropped the rubber match of a three-game set with the Washington Nationals on Sunday by a 13-2 margin, with the young Zack Wheeler getting lit up in his home debut.
Wheeler, who the Mets believe was tipping his pitches in his last start, was charged with five runs over 4 2/3 innings on six hits and two walks. He struck out five, but yielded two home runs. One of those came on a shot by Adam LaRoche to lead off a four-run second frame by the Nats after Wheeler had set the club down in order in the first.
"The first inning I was hitting my spots, everything was working," Wheeler said. "Then I started leaving some balls up. I'm starting to learn the hard way you can't get away with mistakes up here."
Arizona saw starter Trevor Cahill make plenty of mistakes in Sunday's 6-2 loss to the Atlanta Braves. The Diamondbacks were swept in the series as Cahill allowed all six runs as well as three home runs in 4 1/3 innings.
Cahill's 10th loss of the season was also Arizona's sixth in its past even games, though it still leads the NL West by two games over Colorado.
"Obviously, you want to play well every day, but you just got to try and let the game go in the past whether you win or lose and just move on," first baseman Paul Goldschmidt said. "Getting frustrated is not going to help. Everyone is playing hard. We've been in a lot of games and haven't been able to pull it out. It's just part of it."
Arizona's starting rotation has not picked up a victory in 22 straight games, going 0-9 in that span since June 5. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, it is the second-longest such streak in team history behind a 24-game span from April 17-May 14, 1998.
Wade Miley was the last D'backs hurler to find the win column and he aims to snap the rotation's winless stretch tonight.
Miley has pitched to a solid 3.42 ERA over his last four starts, but is 0-2 in that span since his June 5 win over St. Louis. He pitched well enough to win on Wednesday in Washington, but instead dropped a 3-2 decision.
The 26-year-old southpaw hurled seven innings and was charged with three runs, two of those earned. Washington scored its winning run in the fifth inning, aided on a passed ball by Arizona catcher Miguel Montero.
Miley is 4-7 with a 4.55 ERA in 16 starts this season and 0-1 in two lifetime meetings versus the Mets with a 5.56 ERA.
The Mets won four of seven versus the Diamondbacks last season.