Scott Kazmir was once considered among the top pitching prospects in baseball as he came up through the New York Mets system. Kazmir continues to resurrect his career with the Cleveland Indians after making only one appearance in the 2011-2012 seasons, and his next opponent happens to be the visiting Mets in Friday's opener of a three-game interleague series. Kazmir will be opposed by a young pitcher who has generated considerable fanfare in New York rookie right-hander Zack Wheeler.
Cleveland is among three teams chasing Tampa Bay for the second wild card in the American League. The Indians took two of three from one of those teams - Baltimore - to kick off a nine-game homestand that will conclude with a three-game set against Kansas City next week. New York is 3-3 on its nine-game trip and has played much better away from home - the Mets are 35-37 on the road as opposed to a dismal 28-38 record at Citi Field.
TV: 7:05 p.m. ET, SNY (New York), STO (Cleveland)
PITCHING MATCHUP: Mets RH Zack Wheeler (7-3, 3.36 ERA) vs. Indians LH Scott Kazmir (7-7, 4.36)
Wheeler concluded a stellar month of August by limiting Washington to two runs in 6 2/3 innings to improve to 3-1 in his last five starts while allowing nine runs in that span. He has yet to allow more than seven hits in 14 career starts and he cut down his walks, permitting six in 32 1/3 innings. Wheeler has been sensational away from home, posting a 5-0 mark and 2.19 ERA in eight road starts.
Kazmir appears to have hit a wall, going 0-3 over his last four starts and allowing at least four runs in each of the losses. He failed to go past five innings for the third time during the winless drought last time out in Detroit, giving up four runs on seven hits. The 29-year-old Kazmir has enjoyed much more success at home, logging a 5-1 record in 11 starts despite a 4.53 ERA.
1. New York is 5-1 all-time in Cleveland, including a three-game sweep in June 2010 in its last visit.
2. Indians OF Michael Brantley is 11-for-28 during his eight-game hitting streak.
3. Mets 2B Daniel Murphy has nine RBIs during a nine-game hitting streak.
PREDICTION: Mets 4, Indians 3