Young Dominican righty Danny Salazar makes the seventh start of his career in a pressure situation on Sunday afternoon, when the Cleveland Indians aim for a sweep of a three-game interleague series with the New York Mets at Progressive Field.
Winners of four straight games, the Indians have moved within a single game of skidding Tampa Bay for the second and final American League wild card playoff berth. The Rays hold a one-game edge over both Baltimore and Cleveland for that second spot.
Salazar, who'll turn 24 in January, made his major league debut on July 11 with the Indians and went six innings while allowing just one run on two hits of a 4-2 defeat of Toronto.
He got a no-decision in a subsequent home start against Detroit and has since gone 0-2 in four straight road contests while allowing six runs on 15 hits in 18 1/3 combined innings.
His most recent start, on Sept. 1 at Detroit, was his best though it ended in a no-decision after he allowed six hits in six scoreless innings with no walks and five strikeouts in a game the Indians ultimately won, 4-0.
For the Mets, Japanese-born righty Daisuke Matsuzaka gets a fourth start in a Mets uniform after being hit hard in three consecutive losses.
The former World Series champion with Boston in 2007 was with the Red Sox through the end of 2012 and was then signed and released twice by the Indians before the Mets acquired him as a free agent on Aug. 22.
He's allowed five, four and six runs in his three New York outings while lasting an incrementally smaller five, 4 1/3 and three innings.
The Atlanta Braves ripped him for seven hits and scored six times in the most recent outing on Sept. 2, which the Mets lost, 13-5.
Matsuzaka is 4-2 in six career starts against the Indians.
On Saturday, Asdrubal Cabrera hit a three-run home run and Ryan Raburn added a three-run double as the Indians took a 9-4 win.
Nick Swisher hit a solo home run and drove in two, while Corey Kluber (8-5) gave up two runs on five hits with a walk and five strikeouts over five-plus innings for the Indians. Swisher hit a grand slam Friday.
"We just have to keep winning man, that's it," said Swisher. "We've got 22 or 21 games going into tomorrow and this is the push. It's been a while since this team has had this opportunity and we're going to do our best to take advantage of it."
Justin Turner hit a two-run double and scored twice for the Mets, who have lost five of six. Jon Niese (6-7) got the loss for surrendering six runs -- five earned -- on nine hits in six innings.
The Indians sent nine men to the plate in the first inning to take command and knock Niese off his game.
"Everything was kind of flat today," said Niese. "My fastball wasn't any good at first. When I got my cutter working I was able to find my fastball."
New York swept a three-game series in 2010 at Cleveland.