On-Base Perception

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Game 143: Daniel Murphy, Matt Harvey and a look at the 2013 schedule

Daniel Murphy celebrates after scoring a run in

Daniel Murphy celebrates after scoring a run in the fith inning during a game against the Washington Nationals at Citi Field. (Sept. 11, 2012) (Credit: Jim McIsaac)

Lately, the Mets have been making all kinds of history, though for all the wrong reasons.

They face yet another dubious distinction in Wednesday night's series finale against the Nationals. The Mets need a victory to avoid the franchise's eighth winless homestand of at least six games. They already accomplished the feat earlier this season, going winless in six home games against the Dodgers and Nationals  July 20-25.

The historically bad offense is to blame.

They've already established a franchise record by failing to score more than three runs in each of its last 12 games at Citi Field. In those games, the Mets are hitting .202/.284/.289. They have stranded an average of 7.5 runners per game and have 97 strikeouts compared to 43 walks.

The only two victories in that 12-game stretch have come against the dreadful Astros.

Looking forward, it's going to be nearly impossible to help a teammate win a Cy Young Award while making all of the opposing pitchers look like Cy Young. R.A. Dickey, whose outstanding peripheral stats will be overlooked the moment one of his competitors reaches the 20-win mark.

To make matters worse, the Mets will take the field on Wednesday without their hottest hitter, Daniel Murphy.

The second baseman woke up on Wednesday morning with soreness in his lower back, prompting manager Terry Collins to scratch him in favor of Ronny Cedeno.

"Everything kind of matched up with trying to get me two days off," said Murphy, who will also get a breather with tomorrow's scheduled off day. "I think it's just a reminder that 140 games is a lot of baseball."

In the last 14 days, the Mets are hitting just .221/.279/.338. However, in that span, Murphy has posted a .366/.409/.512 line while playing in 11 of those games. He expects to be back in the lineup on Friday when the Mets face begin a three-game set against the Brewers in Milwaukee.

On Harvey's place: Right-hander Matt Harvey (3-4, 3.04 ERA) makes the penultimate start of his impressive debut season. He faces  lefty John Lannan (2-0, 3.46 ERA)  who stepped  into the rotation when the innings cap on Stephen Strasburg prompted the Nationals to shut him down.

At this point, Collins said the Mets have seen all they need to be convinced that Harvey will begin 2013 in the starting rotation. So, in his final two starts, Collins said he's looking to see signs of improvement.

Said Collins: "I've got a tough time thinking that there's a way he's not going to be in it."

The 2013 schedule: Teams released their tentative 2013 schedules on Wednesday. And the interleague portion seems somewhat more equitable for the Mets, who will have two less games against the Yankees. The Subway Series now consists of a pair of two-game series to be played consecutively starting on May 27.

The Mets will host the first two games before the actions shifts to the Bronx for the last two contests.

"My whole thing was everybody playing the same teams," Collins said. "If you're going to play the American League East, everybody should play the American League East. We play the Yankees more than anybody. That can be difficult. That was my whole thing and I think it's starting to even out to be similar to that."

Indeed, each National League team will face an AL East foe during the same four-day stretch starting on May 27. The Nationals and Orioles will square off along with the Marlins and Rays. The Phillies and Red Sox will play four straight, as will the Braves and Blue Jays.

The lineups:

NATIONALS

Jayson Werth RF

Bryce Harper CF

Ryan Zimmerman 3B

Adam LaRoche 1B

Ian Desmond SS

Roger Bernadina LF

Kurt Suzuki C

Steve Lombardozzi 2B

John Lannan LHP

METS

Ruben Tejada SS

Ronny Cedeno 2B

David Wright 3B

Scott Hairston RF

Lucas Duda 1B

Kelly Shoppach C

Jason Bay LF

Andres Torres CF

Matt Harvey RHP

Tags: Mets , Washington Nationals , Daniel Murphy , Terry Collins , Ronny Cedeno , Matt Harvey , R.A. Dickey , Jayson Werth , Bryce Harper , Ryan Zimmerman , Adam LaRoche , Ian Desmond , Roger Bernadina , Kurt Suzuki , Steve Lombardozzi , John Lannan , Ruben Tejada , David Wright , Scott Hairston , Lucas Duda , Kelly Shoppach , Jason Bay , Andres Torres , Matt Harvey

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