The Miami Marlins are coming home after being punchless at the plate in the last five games of a dismal road trip.
It's advantageous that Henderson Alvarez will be on the mound for them back in Miami but definitely not good news that Zack Wheeler and the New York Mets will be the opponents.Wheeler has been utterly dominant against the Marlins this season and the Mets have won five straight in this series entering Monday's opener of a three-game set.Miami (66-69) capped a 3-6 trip with Sunday's 1-0 loss to Atlanta. The Marlins totaled nine runs and batted .214 with 52 strikeouts in losing four of their last five."It wasn't the way we drew up the road trip, but it's over," manager Mike Redmond told MLB's official website.Alvarez (10-6, 2.75 ERA) owns baseball's best home ERA at 1.46 as he matches up with Wheeler for the third time. He is 0-1 with a 6.55 ERA in those two contests but has pitched 15 1/3 scoreless innings in winning his other two 2014 starts against the Mets.Turning it around at the plate for the Marlins won't be easy against Wheeler (9-9, 3.44), who is 2-0 with a 0.65 ERA in four starts against them this year. The right-hander has struck out 31 over 27 2/3 innings in those games while limiting Miami to a .154 average with no homers.Casey McGehee is 4 for 9 against Wheeler in 2014 while Giancarlo Stanton, Adeiny Hechavarria, Marcell Ozuna and Garrett Jones have combined to go 5 for 44.Wheeler looks to get back on the winning track after yielding three runs and four hits in seven innings in Wednesday's 3-2 loss to the Braves. He had been 6-0 with a 2.12 ERA in his previous 10 outings."I felt like I was in control with most of my pitches," Wheeler said. "I thought I had pretty good stuff to keep the team in it."Alvarez also had a win streak snapped in his last outing when he surrendered five runs over 6 1/3 innings in Wednesday's 6-1 defeat to the Los Angeles Angels. He posted a 2.25 ERA in winning his previous four starts.The right-hander has had trouble this year against David Wright, who is 7 for 13 against him. Curtis Granderson is 1 for 13 against Alvarez in 2014 and turned in baseball's worst batting average (.147) and slugging percentage (.183) in August.The Mets (64-73) have turned to younger players as the season winds down and avoided falling into last place in the NL East with Sunday's 6-5 victory over Philadelphia. Anthony Recker hit a three-run homer in a rare start and Kirk Nieuwenhuis added two hits in his first start since Aug. 8."That's how you win games, period," manager Terry Collins said. "It just makes a huge difference and it takes a lot of heat off the guys who every day get worn down. Once in a while fresh blood in the lineup can lift you up."Stanton and New York's Lucas Duda are tied for the NL lead with 12 homers since the All-Star break.