Bartolo Colon has alternated wins and losses over 10 starts in the last two months.
Should the pattern hold Sunday at home against the Houston Astros, the New York Mets' right-hander will have his eighth 15-win season.Colon, however, will likely have to contend with Jose Altuve, who comes in hitting an MLB-best .340 with a lead of three percentage points over Detroit's Victor Martinez.The 41-year-old Colon (14-13, 4.08 ERA) hasn't had the type of season he did last year, when he went 18-6 with a 2.65 ERA with Oakland, but his 31st start of 2014 will mark his highest total since his AL Cy Young season of '05.He has a chance to post a third straight ERA under 4.00, but he didn't help that cause by allowing four runs and five hits in six innings of Tuesday's 4-2 loss at Washington.The right-hander is 7-3 with a 3.36 ERA in 11 starts against Houston, though he's struggled in interleague play this season with a 2-2 record and 6.27 ERA in five starts.Jason Castro is 6 for 9 with a home run against him, while Altuve is 5 for 14. Chris Carter is 1 for 10, and his pursuit of a 40-home run season will have to wait unless he hits three in the season finale.Altuve went 0 for 4 in Saturday's 2-1 walk-off loss and has made the race interesting with a 2-for-15 mark over his last four games. There's more on the line, though, as the second baseman attempts to become the second player since 1945 to lead his league in hits, stolen bases and batting average -- the latter being the only category still in question."I believe he'll play tomorrow," interim manager Tom Lawless said. "We'll see what happens. It should be fun."New York will try to carry some excitement into the finale after Lucas Duda ended Saturday's game on a two-run homer with two outs in the ninth off left-hander Tony Sipp."One of the things that he is really trying to prove is that he can hit lefties," manager Terry Collins said.The team managed just three other hits and is batting .132 in three games. Saturday's win was its major league-leading seventh this season when tallying four hits or fewer -- tying the 1972 franchise record.Surprisingly, the Mets (78-83) have wrapped up their fifth straight season of .500 or better play in interleague games, and their 51-39 record versus the AL since the start of 2010 is the best in the NL, despite never finishing with more than 79 wins.Not surprisingly, Houston (70-91) is 13-26 against the NL in its first two AL seasons.Nick Tropeano will try to end the Astros' year on a high note. Tropeano (1-2, 3.78) has lost his last two starts after winning his major league debut Sept. 10, though he hasn't been overly hittable with a .213 opponents' batting average. In Monday's 4-3 loss at Texas, the right-hander allowed four runs and five hits in 6 2/3 innings."I felt like I fed off my fastball a little bit better this outing, just because the command was better," Tropeano told MLB's official website. "The pitch count didn't get up, didn't get into those deep counts like I did last time."