The New York Mets and league-worst Miami Marlins own the bottom two spots in the NL East, which isn't surprising given how both clubs are sputtering toward the finish of their respectively frustrating seasons.
Miami has been successful against New York, though, and it will look to send the Mets to their fifth straight loss Friday night.The Marlins (54-91) have lost five of six and need to finish 9-8 in order to avoid the second 100-loss season in the franchise's 20-year history. The majors' lowest-scoring team managed only a Donovan Solano RBI single in the third inning of Thursday's 6-1 loss to Atlanta.Rookie Brian Flynn walked six through four innings as Miami fell after Wednesday's 5-2 victory that saw benches clear at one point."After an emotional night, we needed somebody to go out there, really pound the strike zone and put up some zeros," manager Mike Redmond said. "That just didn't happen."Despite all the Marlins' struggles, they've had plenty of success against the Mets. They've won 10 of the 15 meetings while holding a 20-run scoring advantage over New York, which is coming off a four-game sweep following Thursday's 7-2 loss to Washington.The Mets (64-81) were shut out twice while being outscored 25-5 in the series."There are expectations that come when you're a big league player, and part of those expectations is the ability to execute when you need to," manager Terry Collins said. "We're not doing that right now."New York, which would seal its fifth straight losing season with a loss Friday, will send Jonathon Niese to the mound.Niese (6-7, 3.86 ERA) went 2-0 with a 1.30 ERA over his previous four starts before allowing six runs in six innings of his 9-4 loss at Cleveland on Saturday. He gave up four runs over 27 2/3 frames during his hot stretch, but he gave up five in the first inning to the Indians.The left-hander is 3-1 with a 2.95 ERA in six starts since returning from the disabled list Aug. 11 after recovering from a partially torn left rotator cuff.Niese didn't earn a decision in either of his two starts against the Marlins this season prior to his injury, giving up two runs -- one earned -- in six innings of New York's 7-3 win April 6 before allowing three runs in 6 2/3 frames of the Mets' 8-4 loss June 9.He'll be opposed by Brad Hand, who will make his first start and fourth appearance of the season.After walking two in 1 2/3 innings of Miami's 7-6 loss to the Mets in his season debut May 1, Hand (0-0, 0.00) was sent to the minors and went 3-5 with a 3.42 ERA in 15 starts for Triple-A New Orleans.The left-hander was called up Sept. 2 and pitched one inning of a 7-0 win over Washington last Friday before tossing three frames of Monday's 5-2 loss to Atlanta.Hand, who hasn't allowed a hit in 5 2/3 innings this season, has lost six straight major league starts while posting a 7.45 ERA, including giving up one run and three hits in six innings before falling 1-0 to New York on Sept. 7, 2011.