It’s been years since this rivalry has been, well, a rivalry. Does 2007 even count? That’s when the New York Mets surrendered a seven game lead with 17 games to go, paving the way for a playoff berth here in Philadelphia. Following that collapse, there hasn’t been much to talk about in Flushing, Queens.
But that doesn’t mean the Mets aren’t dangerous. The Phillies are sitting in an enviable position; first place in the National League East. They’d also like to stay there, and that begins with playing up to, and above, teams of this stature. A road trip hibernation cannot take place right now.
In this Mets/Phillies season series in 2010, it’s a dead heat. Both teams have won six games, while the Mets have outscored the Phils 43-42 thanks to three straight shutouts at Citi Field in late May. Those were the darkest days this season for the Phillies, something they’ve moved past. A repeat of that performance, or anything close to it, just won’t do. Think back to that series:
Unknown knuckleballer R.A. Dickey tossed six innings of no-run ball in the opener. Hisanori Takahashi was brilliant over six innings in the second game as the Mets won 5-0. In the finale, Cole Hamels did his best to keep it close, but Mike Pelfrey was even better, giving up just three hits over seven innings in a 3-0 Mets win. Not exactly H20 on the mound for New York, however, it didn’t matter. The Phillies bats were silent and no matter how good the pitching was, you can’t win if you don’t score. Later on in the season, August 13 to be exact, the Phils struggled with Dickey again as he tossed a complete game, one-hit shutout at Citi Field.
They are now in a position to pounce on another weak and wounded club, toiling near the cellar of the Eastern Division. At the same time, the Braves are playing a much more potent opponent in the St. Louis Cardinals, giving the Phils an opportunity to break away. This one game lead can easily be three if the Phillies play their cards right (you get it, I know), and that starts by taking down a rookie they’ve never seen before.
Jenrry Mejia (pronounced Henry) will start tonight, and he hasn’t had much success yet in his short major league career. He’s 0-3 with 17 walks and 19 strikeouts in 32 2/3 innings. Mejia’s WHIP is ready to crack at 1.65. On paper, this seems like a victory, no questions asked. Again, think back:
On Monday, the Phillies struggled with Florida rookie Adalberto Mendez, who allowed one hit through six innings. It was their first look at Mendez and they appeared completely lost.
So, the moral of this long-winded statement? Don’t screw around. Beat the teams you’re supposed to be. They have a chance to bury their 2-4 record against Pittsburgh, their 2-4 record against the Cubs, and their 3-4 showing against Houston, by beating a team that is clearly inferior. A big series begins tonight in New York. Which team will we see?