Rockies-Mets Preview

When he left the Colorado Rockies in the offseason, Michael Cuddyer was supposed to provide the New York Mets with a big bat in the middle of the lineup.

Things haven't worked out that way as the outfielder has dealt with a nagging knee injury.

In his expected return from the disabled list, Cuddyer faces his former team for the first time Monday night when the host Mets try to avoid their third straight loss in the series opener.

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Cuddyer had a then club-record 27-game hitting streak en route to a NL batting title with a .331 average in 2013 before hitting .332 in 49 games during an injury-plagued 2014 season.

The Mets, who rank 26th in runs since the start of 2013, hoped the two-time All-Star could give them similar production after inking a two-year deal. Instead, he's batted .250 with eight homers in 82 games and struggled with a knee issue since late June.

With the Mets scheduled to face four left-handers on this seven-game homestand versus Colorado and Pittsburgh, Cuddyer is expected to contribute after missing the past two weeks.

New York (59-52), who lead the NL East by 1 1/2 games, had batted .291 and averaged 6.6 runs over a five-game stretch before finishing with six hits in Sunday's 4-3 loss at Tampa Bay. The club also has struck out 28 times while dropping the last two of a 4-2 trip.

"'We're designed to hit homers, and guys who hit home runs strike out," manager Terry Collins said ahead of this four-game series with the Rockies (47-62).

Lucas Duda is batting .371 with nine RBIs over a 10-game hitting streak versus Colorado, while Curtis Granderson is 8 for 22 with seven RBIs in his last six meetings.

The Mets will try to regroup behind Jonathon Niese, who a 2.78 ERA in his last 11 starts while giving up just five home runs over that span. The left-hander won for the third time in four decisions Tuesday when he allowed one run and four hits over seven innings in a 5-1 win at Miami. He's walked four batters in his last five starts.

After going 1-3 with a 5.65 ERA in his first six starts against the Rockies, Niese yielded one run over 6 2-3 innings and did not factor in a 3-2 home win in his only matchup last season.

Carlos Gonzalez is 2 for 10 with four strikeouts versus Niese (6-9, 3.51 ERA), though he's batting .396 with 14 home runs over his last 25 games. He hit a pair of solo shots Sunday when Colorado helped New York with a 6-4 win at Washington.

DJ LeMahieu hit a go-ahead two-run single in the eighth inning as the Rockies took two of three for their first road series win since sweeping Philadelphia from May 29-31.

"We're not giving up," Gonzalez told MLB's official website. "We have a really good lineup. We can score runs. That's not a secret."

Colorado hopes to keep scoring for highly touted prospect Jon Gray (0-0, 4.50), who allowed three runs over four innings Tuesday in his big-league debut. The right-hander settled in after giving up two runs in the first but did not factor in the 10-4 home loss to Seattle.

The NL West-worst Rockies have totaled five runs during a six-game losing streak at Citi Field.