|Mets send Vargas in pursuit of sweep in Minnesota|
The New York Mets had gone an excruciating 13 consecutive road series without gaining a series win when they began their current nine-game road trip by taking two out of three at Miami.
Now the Mets have a chance to make it two series wins in a row on Wednesday afternoon against the Minnesota Twins in Minneapolis.
The Mets held on for a 3-2 victory in Tuesday night's opener of the brief two-game set as reliever Edwin Diaz worked his way out of a bases-loaded situation in the ninth by getting Nelson Cruz to pop out on a 3-2 fastball that clocked in at 99.2 mph.
Diaz was the seventh New York pitcher in the contest that saw the bullpen blank the American League Central-leading Twins on just three hits over five shutout innings.
"They did a great job tonight and hopefully we can build on that," said outfielder Michael Conforto, who finished 4-for-4 with an RBI and a run scored, also robbing Cruz of an extra-base hit with a running catch near the wall to end the third inning.
"It really was the best performance as a collective group by the bullpen," said Mets manager Mickey Callaway. "To throw up five scoreless innings against that group over there says a lot."
It was the third straight victory for the Mets, their longest win streak since taking four in a row at home on May 20-23 against the Washington Nationals. New York also improved to just 3-29 in contests when they score three runs or fewer.
Left-hander Jason Vargas (3-5, 4.23 ERA) will start Wednesday afternoon's finale and will be opposed by left-hander Martin Perez (8-3, 4.26).
Vargas is 8-4 with a 3.80 ERA in 20 career games against the Twins, 18 of which were starts, and is 4-3 with a 4.81 ERA in nine career starts at Target Field. He has been even more impressive in his last four starts against Minnesota, compiling a 3-0 record and 0.78 ERA.
Perez, meanwhile, is 1-0 with a 3.60 ERA in two career games and one start against the Mets. This season, he has allowed at least four earned runs in five of his last seven starts.
Perez won his last start against the Texas Rangers 15-6 on July 5 when he allowed four runs on seven hits over six innings, getting 15 ground-ball outs to go with three strikeouts.
Minnesota comes in on a two-game losing streak. The Twins, who have seen their AL Central lead over Cleveland dwindle to five games, haven't lost three in a row all season.
"We had a chance to win the game," Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said after Tuesday night's loss. "Even on days when we're not at our best and the balls aren't really finding any grass out there, we still played well and gave ourselves an opportunity to win."
The Twins could be without second baseman Jonathan Schoop, who hit his 15th home run of the season in Tuesday's loss. Schoop left the game with an 0-2 count in the ninth inning after grabbing his left side when he swung at an Edwin Diaz pitch.
"We think (he's) doing OK," Baldelli said. "I think any time a guy holds his side or touches his side or grabs it in any way ... I thought the right thing to do is make sure the guy is OK. Oblique injuries are not things to mess around with. We don't know if it is an oblique injury yet at this point, but he felt something there. We'll know more tomorrow."
--Field Level Media