|August 27: Phillies 9, Mets 2 WP: Durbin (6-3) LP: Lawrence (1-2)|
|August 28: Phillies 4, Mets 2 WP: Myers (3-5) LP: Mota (1-1)|
|August 29: Phillies 3, Mets 2 WP: Moyer (12-10) LP: Perez (12-9) S: Myers (13)|
|August 30: Phillies 11, Mets 10 WP: Gordon (2-2) LP: Wagner (2-2)|
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A few weeks ago, I noticed that the Phillies were advertising tickets for this week's four-game set against the Mets with an online banner at philly.com. The heading was "Showtime!" and the featured player was ace Cole Hamels.
Whoops. Hamels is on the disabled list, and the Phils' six-game deficit in the division means that even if they sweep the visitors--an unlikely prospect--they'd still trail New York by two games in the suddenly not very interesting NL East race.
The truth is that the Phillies need to beat whoever they're playing. At 67-62, they trail the just-departed Padres by three games in the NL wild-card race, and probably need to win at least 20 or 21 of their remaining 33 games to reach the playoffs for the first time in 14 years. It won't be easy. The schedule is packed with contenders the rest of the way, other than the Marlins and Nationals, and if history shows us anything it's that the Marlins and Nationals play the Phillies at a level well above what their records would suggest.
Just for the team's own confidence, then, this is a pretty big set. Unfortunately, once again the pitching matchups look ugly for the home nine.
Brian Lawrence gets the ball for the Mets in Monday's opener. He hasn't fared well against the Phillies in his career, but he's probably no worse than even money against inconsistent J.D. Durbin, who was lit up by the Mets in his season debut back in late June. The next three matchups--Tom Glavine vs. Adam Eaton, Oliver Perez against Jamie Moyer, and Orlando Hernandez vs. Kyle Lohse--all favor New York.
Worse, Mets hitters have run roughshod over the Phillies this season. Moises Alou is 7-15 with two homers and a 1.463 OPS; Carlos Delgado has three home runs and a 1.067 OPS; Jose Reyes is hitting .381 with a .500 on-base percentage; David Wright has a .941 OPS; Carlos Beltran is at .930 with five homers. The Mets have outscored the Phils 55-43 in the season series, though the record is pretty close with five wins for the Philies, six for New York.
Is there grounds for hope? Maybe. The team always seems to get up off the mat whenever they look finished, and yesterday's 14-2 rout of the Padres might have been the wakeup call for an offense that has slumbered through most of August. Glavine's career numbers at OFJOAB are not great--2-2, 4.82, 8 HR allowed in 37.2 IP, more walks (19) than strikeouts (16)--and the Phillies generally manage to stay patient (26 walks in 32 innings) against Perez, who sometimes compromises his dazzling stuff with lousy command.
Finally, there's the return of Chase Utley. The all-star second baseman has missed exactly a month with a broken hand, but should be back for this series. Utley didn't put up great numbers in his rehab weekend with Reading, going 1 for 10, with a walk, but his return to the lineup should provide both a psychological and production boost. After a 2-4 start to the homestand, the team badly needs both.