Mets, Phillies Battle For First

July 3, 2009 by  
Filed under Fan News

Could first place be around the corner?


The current batch of Mets players have been berated in all forms of media all week.


“We can’t win like this”


“These players aren’t very good.”


Even the manager got into the act by asking for more offense and saying that it’d be tough to win with the current guys.


Despite all that, the Mets have now won two in a row, one with pitching and one with hitting. They will go into Philadelphia with a chance to take first place, sitting just one game behind the Phillies. (and the Marlins)


The Phillies aren’t playing great baseball either. In fact, the pitcher the Mets faced in Pittsburgh, Paul Maholm, has a better ERA than the Phillies ace Cole Hamels, and the two pitchers in the rotation the Mets are facing this weekend.


The other pitcher, Rodrigo Lopez, is a journeyman pitcher who hasn’t pitched in the majors in two years. Lopez, coming off Tommy John surgery, signed with the Braves last year, pitching five innings in the minors, and was released at the end of the season.


He’s nearly given up a home run a start in his career, which will go over well in that ballpark, and his best year came in Baltimore in 2002.


He was 5-4 with a 3.91 ERA in the minors this year.


So the pitching landscape the Mets will face this weekend is not great. The lineup isn’t what it would be with Reyes, Delgado and Beltran in it, but most of these guys are still major leaguers, or prospects, and should be able to score some runs in a ballpark that lends itself to scoring runs.


The worry may be on the pitching side.


Livan Hernandez has been pitching well and hopefully he can keep the Phillies in the park. Fernando Nieve is basically an unknown, having had three excellent starts and one bad one.


Has he been properly scouted by now? Have the Phillies read the scouting reports? Or was last time just a blip, and he’ll bounce back with a good performance?


Sunday is almost a must-win with Johan Santana on the mound. He’s a competitive guy, and nothing is more competitive than a competition for first place, against rivals, after a bad performance in his last outing.


Expect good things from Santana on Sunday, which is also the halfway point in the season. Santana typically pitches well in the second half. A lot hinges on Hernandez tonight.


The Phillies bats have been sleeping, and it would do us good not to wake them up.


Bad games, horrible losses, injuries, and bad managing in the first half can all be put aside this weekend. If the Mets play competitive baseball for these three days, the first half ends and the second half begins without any handicap or ground to make up.


Beltran and Reyes may both be back before we know it, and it’d be an excellent situation to be in if they come back and not have to help the Mets play catchup, but to help the Mets put distance between them and whoever is in second come that point.


Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

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