Teams that each rely heavily upon pitching, the Cleveland Indians and New York Mets are receiving inconsistent results from their starters.
The clubs conclude a three-game series Sunday with Cleveland ace Corey Kluber still in search of his first win of 2016 and New York's Steven Matz attempting to shake off a forgettable season debut.
Kluber's season has begun much like the follow-up to his breakout 2014 Cy Young campaign, when he went 0-5 with a 5.04 ERA over his first seven starts en route to leading the AL with 16 losses. He's opened this one with consecutive defeats to Boston and Tampa Bay, though he held the Rays to one run and three hits over seven innings on Tuesday before allowing a go-ahead two-run homer to Logan Forsythe in the eighth.
''He was obviously very good, but there was no wiggle room,'' manager Terry Francona said. ''For seven innings he made (a 1-0 lead) stand up. That's a hard way to pitch, but we'll take that outing.''
Scant offensive support was a common occurrence for Kluber (0-2, 4.85) last season, as he received an AL-low 3.32 runs per nine innings.
Cleveland (5-4) has been swinging the bat well of late, collecting 11 hits or more in three straight and producing 18 runs over that stretch. The Indians scored five off Matt Harvey between the fifth and sixth innings of Saturday's 7-5 victory.
Mike Napoli had a pair of RBI singles to extend his hitting streak to eight games, while Jason Kipnis is 5 for 9 with three doubles and two RBIs for the series.
With Harvey 0-3 with a 5.71 ERA through three starts and Jacob deGrom to miss a second straight turn due to a medical issue regarding his newborn son, the Mets are in greater need of Matz (0-1, 37.80) regaining the form he displayed during last year's brief major league stint. The 24-year-old didn't come close in Monday's 10-3 loss to Miami, surrendering seven runs and six hits before departing after 1 2-3 innings.
''In the second inning, he just lost a feel for every pitch. He didn't make, really, any pitches that he needed to make,'' manager Terry Collins said. ''We know he's better - a lot better - than that.''
Matz yielded nine runs total over 35 2-3 innings in going 4-0 in six regular-season starts in 2015.
The left-hander will likely have to be better on Sunday, as Kluber is 10-1 with a 1.81 ERA in 12 career interleague starts.
While the pitching remains unreliable, the Mets' bats have heated up in this series. After homering four times in Friday's 6-5 win, New York (4-6) had three more Saturday.
The Mets had just two home runs while hitting .194 through the first eight games.
Yoenis Cespedes and Neil Walker have homered in two straight, with Cespedes 9 for 23 with three homers and eight RBIs over his last six. He's 4 for 12 with a home run off Kluber.
Cleveland is seeking its second straight series win over the Mets. After losing seven of the first nine matchups, the Indians took two of three from New York at Progressive Field in September 2013.