Mets (34-29) At Rays (35-27) Preview: Game Time, TV, Probable Pitchers

Credit the New York Mets for quieting the doubters. After a spurt in which they lost six of their last seven games against quality opponents, the Mets saw their season-best 31-24 slip to three games above .500. But now, they've reeled off two straight wins against the Tampa Bay Rays, in no-doubt fashion, combining for 20 runs and giving up only three.

In their losing spell, the Mets weren't getting enough production from their lineup, the defense was so bad it was losing games and the bullpen was getting roughed up every night. Then Chris Young gave up two earned in his return, R.A. Dickey tossed a complete-game, 12-strikeout masterpiece and the offense erupted and again the Mets are turning some heads. The question becomes: Can Johan Santana possibly top the knuckleballer's performance at Tropicana on Thursday afternoon (1:10 p.m., SNY)?

Probably not, but rotation-mates are often very competitive and you know the lefty, who's already thrown the franchise's first no-hitter, doesn't want to disappoint when the Amazins take on Jeremy Hellickson looking for their fourth sweep.

The focus in this game is going to be on the Mets' ace. After receiving two days after he threw the no-hitter on 134 pitches, Santana was blasted in his worst start of the season, giving up six earned runs (four home runs) on seven hits in five innings against the New York Yankees. The Amazins hope the extra rest threw off his preparation, and that he returns to being one of the great stories of the early start of the season.

Similarly, Hellickson is coming off of his shakiest outing as well. The young righthander who typically demonstrates great control lasted only 4 1/3 innings, walking seven giving up five hits and one earned run.

Every starter in Wednesday's game recorded a hit, most notably Ike Davis, who had two. Davis also walked and seems to be seeing the baseball much better lately, notching two hits in two straight games, and recording eight of his 22 walks in his last seven games. His continued emergence will be a key to the Mets' success, or lack thereof.

Current Series

Mets lead the series 2-0

Tue 06/12 WP: Chris Young (1 - 0)
LP: Alex Cobb (2 - 3)
11 - 2 win
Wed 06/13 WP: R.A. Dickey (10 - 1)
LP: David Price (8 - 4)
9 - 1 win

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