Series Preview: Mets vs. Phillies
After losing two of three games to the Arizona Diamondbacks over the weekend, the Mets have a day off before facing the Philadelphia Phillies at Shea for a three-game series.
Though they started off slumping, the Phillies have pecked away gradually, and now stand 8 games behind the Mets, in third place. That may seem like a comfortable lead for the Shea Faithful, but consider that a three-game sweep by the Phils would put them only five games behind, and right in the thick of things.
Watching the Mets offense — which has been offensive to view — getting swept by the Phillies doesn’t seem so unrealistic. If the New York bats continue to struggle to score runs, wins will be increasingly difficult to come by — and the rules stipulate that you must have more runs than the opposition in order to win a game.
Perhaps my paranoia is unfounded. Maybe Carlos Beltran will return 100% and ready to mash. And it’s possible that David Newhan will suddenly become a hit machine (isn’t it?).
Or, Willie Randolph’s “aggressive” style of play will produce more than one run a game against tough pitching. We’ll see.
Game 1: Tom Glavine vs. Jamie Moyer
The battle of old and creaky puss-ballers is revisited. Glavine won the first match 5-3, though both pitchers threw nearly identical games. This one could go either way, and without much offense behind him, Glavine may need to be extra sharp.
Game 2: Orlando Hernandez vs. Adam Eaton
What was the bigger bust this year? Wes Helms at third base or Adam Eaton in the rotation? Eaton has gone from bad to worse as the season progresses, and completed only two innings (4 walks, 6 hits, 5 runs) in his last start against the San Francisco Giants.
El Duque has pitched at an astounding level all season — before and after going on the DL with shoulder bursitis. He could be due for a bad start, but even still the Mets shouldn’t have a problem replacing him early if necessary — Aaron Sele hasn’t pitched in 11 days — and the AAA batters should beat up on Eaton.
Game 3: John Maine vs. Cole Hamels
John Maine has pitched well in his last two starts after a three-game slump. His most recent performances are more indicative of his ceiling than the four-start hot streak he rode in April and early May. That said, he can be counted on to pitch six strong innings, allowing around three runs to the potentially potent Phillie lineup. Unfortunately, that might not be good enough against Hamels, who likely will be facing a watered-down Mets offense. Either the bats need to wake up, or Maine has to throw like he did at the end of April, to take this game.
There is nothing to report, other than the fact that Carlos Delgado is finally hitting the ball fairly consistently, and Jose Reyes is back on track. Otherwise, the lineup as currently constructed can be described as anemic.
Freddy Garcia is currently outhitting Pat Burrell. Wes Helms is ice-cold and proving not to be Philadelphia’s answer at third base. The yapping terrier Jimmy Rollins is hitting .207 in his last seven games.
However, Chase Utley is on a hot streak, Aaron Rowand has yet to cool off, and Ryan Howard is back and hitting monster shots.
With Utley, Howard, Rowand, and a bit of help from the unexpected (i.e., Jayson Werth, Shane Victorino, Abraham Nunez), the Phillies can outhit the Mets this week. However, the Phillies do not have anyone to rely on for middle, setup, nor closing relief. The Mets’ approach should be to take, take, and take some more, and force the Phillie starters out of the game by the sixth inning or sooner. A battle of the bullpens should be won by the effective and well-rested Mets’ relievers.