NEW YORK -- For the sixth straight year, the Mets' win total will start with a "7." It could be 77, or 78, or 79.
It won't be 80.
That much is certain, after the Mets began their final-weekend series with a 3-1 loss to the Houston Astros on Friday night. Curtis Granderson's fourth-inning home run gave the Mets their only run. They had only five hits.
The Astros scored all their runs in the sixth inning against Carlos Torres, who took over when Jonathon Niese had to leave because of an elevated heart rate. Torres had help, because Anthony Recker dropped a throw at home plate to allow Jose Altuve to score Houston's second run. Altuve would have been out on a nice relay throw by Wilmer Flores.
Niese questions: The Mets' starter finished his season with 5 1/3 shutout innings, leaving Niese with a 3.40 ERA that matches the best of his career (also 3.40 in 2012). But Niese left Friday's start one out into the fifth inning because of an elevated heart rate, the same issue that forced him from games in both 2011 and 2012.
When Niese had the problem before, doctors first recommended a heart procedure known as ablation. But Niese visited experts at the Cleveland Clinic, who told him they believed the procedure wasn't needed.
Granderson Citi: Granderson is having a nice September, but it's certainly notable that his fourth-inning home run off Brad Peacock on Friday night was his first homer at home since the All-Star break. In Granderson's first season with the Mets, 13 of his 20 home runs have come on the road.
Altuve watch: It's hard to remember that this is an interleague series, the first time the Mets and Astros have met since Houston moved to the American League in 2013. So the Mets could have an impact on the AL batting race. Altuve began the night with a six-point lead over the Tigers' Victor Martinez.
Altuve went 1-for-4 (with a single off Torres), which dropped his average from .343 to .342.
Family affair: Astros reliever Kevin Chapman, who is Matt den Dekker's first cousin, entered the game in the fifth inning to face Daniel Murphy with two on and two out. Chapman, who is left-handed, remained in the game to face the four lefties in the middle of the Mets lineup ... including den Dekker.
It was the first time the two had met in a major-league game. The result? den Dekker walked.
Chapman told the Houston Chronicle that he and den Dekker are almost like brothers. They're close to the same age, and grew up about a mile apart in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
What's next: With Jacob deGrom shut down for the season, the Mets give Rafael Montero (1-3, 4.38) another start in Saturday night's 7:10 p.m. ET start. Right-hander Samuel Deduno (2-6, 4.66) starts for the Astros.