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Mets @ Marlins 9/11, 7:05


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After no-no, Sanchez takes on Mets

New York (88-54) at Florida (72-71), 7:05 p.m. ET

By Joe Frisaro / MLB.com

From the Marlins' standpoint, it's a shame the season didn't start on May 22. If it did, the race in the National League East could look dramatically different.


Since falling to 11-31 on May 21, the Marlins are 61-40. Compare that to the NL East-leading Mets, who are 62-37 over the same time frame -- just a two-game difference.


Unfortunately for the Marlins, the entire season is taken into account, and they enter a crucial three-game set beginning on Monday with the Mets, who lead the division by 16 1/2 games.


Still, this series is highly important for the Marlins, who are closing in on the Padres for the NL Wild Card lead. The Mets, meanwhile, have a magic number of four to clinch the NL East.


"The rest of the way for us, it's not going to get any easier," Florida manager Joe Girardi said. "We look at the small picture, we try to win the series. We've had some tough games with the Mets. Obviously, they're the best team in the National League. They've proven it all year, so it's another little test."


For the season, the Marlins are 5-7 against the Mets, but they took two of three at home in early August.


Before Monday night's game, there will be a special ceremony remembering the fifth anniversary of the 9/11 tragedy.


Another sidenote in the series opener will be the return of Anibal Sanchez to the mound. Last Wednesday, the 22-year-old tossed the fourth no-hitter in Marlins history, beating the Diamondbacks, 2-0.


The only pitcher in history to record successive no-hitters was the late Johnny Vander Meer. For the Reds on June 11, 1938, Vander Meer no-hit the Boston Bees, and he followed that up on June 15 by holding the Brooklyn Dodgers to no hits in the first night game at Ebbets Field.


Vander Meer built on his legend while having a total hitless streak of 21 1/3 innings, counting his start before his first no-hitter and ensuing game after his June 15 win at Brooklyn.


In his Sept. 1 start, before keeping the Diamondbacks hitless, Sanchez collected a win over the Brewers. That night, he gave up five hits in seven innings. But he surrendered a two-out pinch-hit single to Geoff Jenkins in the seventh inning before striking out Corey Hart to end that inning. So Sanchez is working on a string of 9 1/3 innings of hitless ball.


A 22-year-old from Maracay, Venezuela, Sanchez said he learned of Vander Meer's exploits after he tossed his historical start.


"I know he threw no-hitters back-to-back," Sanchez said. "People asked me if I can do that. I don't think too much about doing that."


Will Vander Meer's record ever be matched?


"Anything is possible, but that's really hard," Sanchez said.


Pitching matchup

FLA: RHP Anibal Sanchez (7-2, 2.89)

Topping his last start will be no easy feat for Sanchez. The rookie right-hander is coming off a no-hitter in which he shut down Arizona's lineup with six strikeouts despite four walks scattered through the game. Sanchez's no-no was the first since the Diamondbacks' Randy Johnson's perfect game in 2004, and the first by a rookie since the Cardinals' Bud Smith in 2001.


NYM: LHP Dave Williams (5-3, 5.68)

Williams has a 3-0 record and a 3.24 ERA in four starts with the Mets since coming over from the Reds. He has walked two and struck out 15 in 25 innings and pitched at least six innings in his three victories. He hasn't faced the Marlins this season with either the Reds or Mets. Through Friday, the Marlins had won only 16 of 37 games in which they had been opposed by a left-handed starter.


Player to watch

Mets All-Star third baseman David Wright is batting .311 on the season. In September, he is 12-for-22 (.545) with seven RBIs.


On the Internet


Gameday Audio

? Gameday

? Official game notes


On television


On radio

? 560 WQAM, 1140 WQBA(Espa?ol)

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