MLB

Red Sox-Mets Preview

An innings limit combined with the prospect of postseason baseball are the only things that have slowed down Matt Harvey.

The New York Mets look for their ace to continue his dominance Friday night when they open their first home series with the Boston Red Sox in 14 years.

Harvey (11-7, 2.57 ERA) has tossed 154 innings and New York (71-56) doesn't want him to go more than 190 in his first season back from Tommy John surgery.

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It's looking more and more like some of those innings will come in the playoffs, with the Mets leading the NL East by 6 1/2 games over Washington.

That means Harvey is likely to be skipped again after Logan Verrett went eight innings in his place in Sunday's 5-1 win at Colorado.

Harvey is 5-3 with a 1.45 ERA in his last 11 starts, going 4-0 with a 1.11 ERA in his past seven at home. He's taking the mound for the first time since allowing one run in six innings before leaving without a decision in an 8-1 loss to Pittsburgh on Aug. 16.

The right-hander will be backed by a red-hot offense that has powered the Mets to seven straight wins. They have scored 73 runs in that span - the most in a seven-game span in franchise history - while batting .338 with 19 homers. New York's 43 home runs this month are a franchise record.

Daniel Murphy had the key hit Thursday, connecting for a tiebreaking two-run double in the 13th inning of a 9-5 win at Philadelphia. He's batting .356 with 20 RBIs over the last 20 games.

"(Murphy) can stinkin' hit, flat hit," manager Terry Collins said. "When he's swinging good, we're dangerous."

Yoenis Cespedes is also contributing in a big way, batting .361 with six homers and 15 RBIs in the past seven contests. He played 51 games for the Red Sox (58-69) last year, batting .269 with five homers and 33 RBIs before being dealt to Detroit in the offseason.

The Red Sox will give the ball to Henry Owens (2-1, 4.50), who is looking to build on the best of his four major league starts.

The rookie left-hander was hammered for seven runs and three homers with 10 strikeouts in six innings while not getting a decision in a 10-8 loss to Seattle on Aug. 16. However, Owens followed that up five days later by yielding two runs - one earned - in eight innings while outpitching Johnny Cueto in a 7-2 win over Kansas City.

"He's going to be one of the good ones," catcher Blake Swihart told MLB's official website. "He's capable of doing that every night. He's a competitor."

Boston (58-69) took two of three from the Chicago White Sox after winning 3-0 on Wednesday. Rookie Travis Shaw hit a two-run homer, his seventh in 21 games since being recalled from Triple-A Pawtucket.

He's hitting .333 with 16 RBIs over that stretch but is just 3 for 35 in 13 road games.

That could be reason enough for the Red Sox to start David Ortiz at first in an NL park. He's 2 for 20 over his last six games but has a .333 average with two homers in seven interleague road games.

"I think everybody that's having success here and doing their job right now is going to be in a situation to be considered for next year, and Travis has done a great job," interim manager Torey Lovullo said.

This is Boston's first series in Queens since July 12-14, 2001.