Mike Napoli could prove to be a smart free-agent signing for the Cleveland Indians if the first few weeks of the season are any indication. Napoli has knocked in six runs overall – three the last two days — and can extend his hitting streak to nine games when the Indians host the New York Mets on Sunday in the rubber match of the three-game series.
The 34-year-old slugger was let go by Boston last season and finished the campaign with Texas before agreeing to a one-year, $7 million deal with Cleveland in January. Napoli is 4-for-9 in the series and had two RBI singles in the Indians’ 7-5 victory Saturday against Matt Harvey and the Mets, who have dropped five of seven. The good news for New York is its offense is beginning to perk up with 11 runs and seven homers the last two games after coming to Cleveland ranked last in the majors in batting average and 29th in scoring. Yoenis Cespedes is 4-for-9 with a pair of blasts and five RBIs while Neil Walker has gone deep twice in the series for the Mets.
TV: 1:10 p.m. ET, SNY (New York), SportsTime Ohio (Cleveland)
PITCHING MATCHUP: Mets LH Steven Matz (0-1, 37.80 ERA) vs. Indians RH Corey Kluber (0-2, 4.85)
Matz tries to rebound from a rough season debut when he surrendered seven runs on six hits and a pair of walks while getting just five outs against Miami last Monday. The 24-year-old gave up all of the runs in the second inning, including a two-run blast by Giancarlo Stanton. Matz won his lone interleague start of his young career last season against the New York Yankees, permitting one run over six frames.
Kluber pitched six shutout innings last time out before coughing up a 1-0 lead at Tampa Bay and looks to find the form which led to a 2.83 ERA at home a year ago. The 2014 American League Cy Young winner gave up three runs and four hits over 7 2/3 innings last Tuesday and is 9-18 in the last two years combined. Cespedes is 4-for-12 with a homer versus Kluber, who beat the Mets in their only meeting in 2013.
1. New York C Travis d’Arnaud suffered a bruised left elbow after being hit by a pitch Saturday, but X-rays came back negative.
2. Cleveland 2B Jason Kipnis has recorded multiple hits in four of his last six games to raise his average to .333.
3. Mets 3B David Wright has reached base in all nine games he has played this season, but is expected to get the day off Sunday.
PREDICTION: Indians 5, Mets 2