A battle of aces highlights Thursday's eight-game MLB schedule when the New York Mets kick off their four-game series with the Florida Marlins at Sun Life Stadium.
Johan Santana (3-2, 4.54 ERA) takes the ball for the Mets, and he's looking to get on track after getting off to a slow start by his lofty standards. The lefthander is 1-1 with a 7.27 ERA in his last three starts, and is only 0-1 with an 8.44 ERA away from Citi Field this season.
One of Santana's best outings of the season came on April 5 against the Marlins, when he allowed only one run over six innings to get the victory in the Mets' 7-1 win as +100 home underdogs. Josh Johnson (3-1, 3.35 ERA) was the loser that day for Florida, and he'll get the call opposite Santana again on Thursday night.
Johnson has been in All-Star form over his last three starts (2-0, 2.57 ERA), but it's on the total where he's proven to be valuable. In his last 10 outings dating back to last season, the Fish are 10-0 O/U (5-5 SU).
New York took two of three against the moneyline in the teams' three-game set last month, and it'll have to continue the trend without Carlos Beltran (knee), who remains on the 15-day disabled list.
Later on Thursday, the Colorado Rockies and Washington Nationals begin a four-gamer at Coors Field, as John Lannan (1-2, 6.34 ERA) makes his return to the mound. Lannan missed his scheduled start on Sunday against Florida because of soreness in his left arm.
The Rockies turn to the surprising Jhoulys Chacin (2-0, 0.00 ERA) on Thursday. Colorado certainly needs good performances from its starting pitchers - closer Huston Street and reliever Franklin Morales are both on the 15-day DL with shoulder injuries.
Over in the American League, two banged-up clubs finish off a three-game set when the Texas Rangers host the Oakland Athletics at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington on Thursday afternoon.
Both teams are without a handful of regulars. Nelson Cruz (hamstring) and Jarrod Saltalamacchia (back) are on the 15-day DL for the Rangers, while Kurt Suzuki (oblique), Coco Crisp (finger), Mark Ellis (hamstring), and Travis Buck (oblique) are out for the Athletics.
Ben Sheets (2-3, 6.38 ERA) takes the hill for Oakland, and he's in tough against Texas starter C.J. Wilson (3-1, 1.51 ERA). One of the pleasant surprises in the AL, Wilson has an 0.64 ERA in daytime starts this season.