(SportsNetwork.com) – It’s back to the future time at Wrigley Field on Wednesday night, when former Boston ace Daisuke Matsuzaka takes the mound for the New York Mets in the middle game of a three-game series with the host Chicago Cubs.
The former Asian media sensation has pitched in relief 16 times in 17 outings for the Mets thus far in 2014, toiling in anonymity while winning a pair of decisions, posting a respectable 2.45 earned run average and striking out 32 batters in 29 1/3 innings.
His elevation to the starting rotation comes amid a period of transition for the Mets.
Dillon Gee is on the disabled list with a strained muscle in his right side and Matt Harvey is still unavailable after having ligament replacement surgery in his right elbow. Another youngster, Rafael Montero, was 0-2 in four starts before being sent down to Triple-A Las Vegas.
Matsuzaka’s lone start of the season came May 25 against Arizona and resulted in a 4-2 win after he allowed three hits and struck out six in six innings. He’s pitched twice in relief since.
He’s pitched at Wrigley Field once and was a 3-0 loser with the Red Sox in 2012.
The Cubs have won four of their last five home games and will try to continue the streak with veteran Edwin Jackson, who’s been dominant in his last two Wrigley appearances.
Jackson has a win and a no-decision in those two games, during which he’s allowed just one run in 14 innings with 20 strikeouts.
He struck out nine in his last start — on Wednesday in San Francisco — while allowing two runs in 5 1/3 innings of a game the Cubs lost, 5-0. One start earlier, he allowed eight runs at San Diego in an 11-1 loss.
He’s compiled a 2.70 ERA against the Mets in his last four starts.
On Tuesday, Nate Schierholtz drove in the winning run in the ninth inning to help the Cubs to a 2-1 win over the Mets in the series opener.
With Scott Rice (1-2) on the mound, Anthony Rizzo led off with a single. Starlin Castro then hit a grounder to third that David Wright had trouble with and only got the out at first. Luis Valbuena then struck out and Rice had Schierholtz facing an 0-2 count, but Schierholtz smacked a single into right and Rizzo easily scored for the victory.
Chris Coghlan tied the game in the eighth inning with a solo home run and Hector Rondon (1-1) grabbed the win for tossing a scoreless ninth inning for the Cubs, who had lost four of five coming in.
The Mets and Cubs split six meetings last season.