September 14, 2018 at 4:40 am #447
NEW YORK — The New York Mets and Tampa Bay Rays will experience what it’s like to look across the field and feel as if they’re staring into a mirror for the last time this season on Sunday afternoon when the teams play the rubber game of a three-game series at Citi Field.
The Mets’ Chris Flexen (0-1 Derrick Thomas Jersey , 10.80 ERA) is scheduled to face the Rays’ Nathan Eovaldi (2-3, 3.92) in a battle of right-handers.
The Rays posted a 3-0 win Saturday afternoon when ace left-hander Blake Snell tossed 7 1/3 strong innings and Wilson Ramos collected two RBIs.
The Mets and Rays have combined for just nine runs in the first two games, four of which were registered when New York’s Jose Bautista hit a walk-off grand slam to lift the Mets to a 5-1 win on Friday night. The teams had just eight hits in 77 plate appearances with runners on base on Friday and Saturday.
Such struggles have become routine for the Rays and Mets, who ranked 26th and 27th in the majors in runs scored after Saturday’s game — during which Tampa Bay moved past New York.
The offensive woes have threatened to negate the strong work of both pitching staffs. The Rays (44-44) have a 2.77 ERA since May 19, when they began infusing their rotation with the “opener” in select games.
“I think that with the way we’ve pitched, we find ourselves being in a lot of ballgames,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said before Saturday’s game. “But when the bats are quiet Rayshawn Jenkins Jersey , it just becomes really, really tough to find ways to win ballgames.”
Starting pitchers for the Mets (35-50), meanwhile, have a 2.25 ERA in the last six games and a 3.94 ERA this year. New York’s three most utilized starters — Jacob deGrom, Zack Wheeler and Steven Matz — are 11-16 despite a 3.06 ERA in 51 games.
“If we win just five games of deGrom’s and Matz’s and Wheeler’s — and that’s being conservative — we’re right where we want to be,” Mets manager Mickey Callaway said after Saturday’s game. “And it just hasn’t happened.”
Flexen will make his first start of the season and his first appearance since June 24, when he took the loss after giving up one run in one inning as the Mets fell to the Los Angeles Dodgers 8-7 in 11 innings. He hasn’t started in the majors since last Oct 1 Bradley Pinion Jersey , when Flexen allowed six runs (five earned) in 1 1/3 innings as New York fell to the Philadelphia Phillies 11-0 in the season finale.
Eovaldi didn’t factor into the decision in his most recent start Monday, when he gave up two runs in six innings as the Rays fell to the Miami Marlins 3-2 in 10 innings. He has allowed two runs or fewer three times in seven starts this season but has surrendered at least four runs three other times.
Flexen has never faced the Rays. Eovaldi is 1-4 with a 5.01 ERA in nine career starts against the Mets.
The Phoenix Suns have hired Utah Jazz assistant Igor Kokoskov as their new head coach.
The 46-year-old Serbian becomes the first NBA head coach born and raised outside North America. He served as a Suns assistant from 2008 to 2013, a stretch that included Phoenix’s 2010 run to the Western Conference finals.
Kokoskov agreed to terms with the Suns after the team conducted a long series of initial interviews followed by second interviews with what general manager Ryan McDonough termed ”a handful” of finalists.
Kokoskov inherits an exceedingly young team that compiled a 21-61 record, worst in the NBA and second-worst in franchise history.
He succeeds interim coach Jay Triano, who took over after Earl Watson was fired three games into the season.
In a statement announcing the hiring, McDonough said Kokoskov ”has been a pioneer throughout his basketball career and he brings a wealth of high-level coaching experience to our club.”
”He was one of the first non-American born assistant coaches at both the NCAA and NBA levels and his most recent coaching stint includes leading the Slovenian national team to the 2017 EuroBasket title, which was the first European title in the history of the country George Blanda Jersey ,” McDonough said. ”Igor’s teams have always had a player development focus, a creative style of play and a track record of success.”
Kokoskov was with the Jazz on Wednesday night in Houston, where they met the Rockets in the second game of their Western Conference semifinal playoff series. He will take over the Suns as soon as his duties with the Jazz are completed.
”I think Phoenix is getting a guy who’s a terrific teacher and tactician,” Jazz coach Quin Snyder said after the Utah win. ”I’ve known Igor since I was an assistant at Duke and he was a young coach touring the U.S. We have a special relationship that goes back 20 years. I’m excited for him. He’s been a terrific assistant for a long time and can’t thank him enough. We’ll try to keep him here as long as we can.”
Kokoskov is in his 18th season as an NBA assistant coach. In addition to the Jazz and Suns, he was an assistant at Orlando (2015), Cleveland (2013-14), Detroit (2003-08) and Los Angeles Clippers (2000-03).
He became a U.S. citizen on June 18 Ahkello Witherspoon Jersey , 2010, in a ceremony on the court at Phoenix’s Talking Stick Resort Arena. He and his family have kept a home in the Phoenix area since his time with the Suns.
Kokoskov also was head coach of the Georgia national team from 2008 to 2015, qualifying for the EuroBasket tournament three times.
He became the first European to hold a full-time assistant job at an NCAA Division I basketball program after he was hired by then-coach Snyder in 1999. Snyder hired Kokoskov as an assistant there three seasons ago.
AP Sports Writer Kristie Rieken in Houston contributed to this report.
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