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Familiar foes Mets, Pirates open three-game series

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Whether they went to the All-Star Game, had a getaway or maybe enjoyed a staycation, players with the New York Mets and Pittsburgh Pirates might feel like it’s been a while since they met.

Actually, it was just Sunday. Now they are back at it after the break with a three-game series that opens Friday night in Pittsburgh.

The teams split four games last weekend in New York, with the Pirates scoring a comeback 6-5 win in the finale Sunday.

The two clubs are in much different situations coming out of the break.

The Mets lead the National League East; the Pirates are last in the NL Central.

For New York, that made Sunday’s loss a tough one to sit on, given a blown 5-0 lead and a team meeting after the game.

“There are no heads hanging in (the clubhouse),” Mets right fielder Michael Conforto said.

Closer Edwin Diaz, who could not hold a 5-4 Mets lead in the ninth that game, would rather look at the bigger picture.

“We are in a good position right now,” he said. “We are going to try to win every game.”

For the Pirates, the second half starts with roster questions and perhaps a peek at the future.

All-Star second baseman Adam Frazier has been the subject of fairly intense trade speculation, and it’s possible Pittsburgh will move more than a few players in this rebuilding season.

While the Pirates could get players back from the injured list relatively soon, there will be a focus on some who have helped fill in.

Players such as first baseman John Nogowski, who in just seven games for Pittsburgh has become something of a cult hero, batting .500 with five RBIs. Players such as rookie infielder Rodolfo Castro, who had a one-game debut in April before coming up last week from Double-A Altoona.

In the recent series against the Mets, he was 3-for-9 in three games, with all three hits home runs, including two in Sunday’s comeback win.

“My plan is to stay here,” Castro said through an interpreter. “I love it here. I enjoy being a part of this clubhouse, this team. I love competing with them, and, more than anything, I love being able to be an asset to helping them win.”

The Pirates were impressed with Castro’s series.

“The kid came up from Double-A, he’s playing in New York, and the crowd’s into it — and he’s having fun,” Pittsburgh manager Derek Shelton said. “That’s what we want him to do; we want him to have fun.”

In keeping with the flux surrounding the Pirates, they have not announced a starting pitcher for Friday.

For New York, right-hander Marcus Stroman (6-7, 2.75 ERA) is scheduled to start.

Stroman took the loss Saturday against Pittsburgh in the first game of a doubleheader, allowing three runs and five hits in five innings, with no walks and five strikeouts. Even though Stroman fell to 6-7, Mets manager Luis Rojas liked his performance.

“A regular (nine-inning) game, he probably gives us seven (innings) the way he was throwing the ball,” Rojas said.

In his career, Stroman is 0-2 with a 3.50 ERA in four games, three of them starts, against the Pirates.

–Field Level Media

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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