Philadelphia Phillies Blanked Once More as Mets Complete Sweep

May 28, 2010 by  
Filed under Fan News

Currently, five Philadelphia Phillies are leading the National League All-Star Balloting at their respective positions. Jimmy Rollins leads at shortstop, Placido Polanco leads at third base, Chase Utley leads at second base, Jayson Werth leads in left-field, and Shane Victorino leads in center-field. These stars anchor a tremendous lineup, at least a lineup that was tremendous up until their last five games.

They lost their final two games against the Boston Red Sox during Interleague play, which is looking more and more understandable with Boston’s four-game sweep of the Tampa Bay Rays.

They were shut out in the first of those two losses as Daisuke Matsuzaka nearly threw a no-hitter , and fell in the second as the Red Sox broke through against ace Roy Halladay . Their three runs in the finale of that series came in the ninth inning, ending a 17-inning scoreless streak. Since, a much longer scoreless streak has been set.

Just as the Red Sox are inching closer to the Rays in the American League East, the Mets entered their three-game set at home five games behind their divisional foe. New York, having one their previous two games, could go from seven to two games back with a sweep of the Phillies.

And, to my shock, this dream scenario would come true in the most surprising of ways.

Their pitching has the reputation of being sup-bar, but the rotation has developed nicely this season. John Maine , Jon Niese , and Oliver Perez have struggled, combining for a 2-8 record and a 5.58 ERA.

But, knuckleballer R.A. Dickey and Japanese import Hisanori Takahashi have pitched superbly in spot-starts, Johan Santana has delivered, and Mike Pelfrey has been splendid, by far the best of them all.

Dickey baffled the Phillies in the opener, tossing six innings while striking out seven. New York won 8-0 behind three runs scored by shortstop Jose Reyes as well as Jason Bay ‘s scorching bat. Just like Dickey before him, Takahashi put goose-eggs on the board, firing six shutout frames in a 5-0 win. Pelfrey, entering the finale with a 6-1 record and a sub-3 ERA, could keep the shutouts going.

The 6’7″, 230-pound 26-year-old righthander was fairly good in 2008, winning 13 games, throwing 200 innings and posting a 3.72 ERA. He had a setback last season, meshing in nicely with the rest of the mediocrity that filled New York’s rotation, losing 12 games to 10 wins and struggling to a 5.03 ERA.

This year he has turned the corner, drastically improving upon last season’s wretchedness and his respectability in 2008 by continuing his stifling display on the mound against Philadelphia.

He breezed through the first inning, striking out Victorino and Utley in doing so. Bay, who has hit .326 this month, continued his extraordinary resurgence after a rough April, stroking a Cole Hamels offering deep to center for a double, scoring Reyes, who led off the frame with a single. One inning in, Pelfrey had all the run support he needed.

He said, “I thought I was okay,” afterwards, but he was underselling himself. His sinker was devastating throughout, as it has been throughout this season, frustrating the Phillies to no end.

Over his seven innings, he allowed four hits, all singles and three of which to Victorino. Seven shutout innings , striking out seven in his historic effort. Pedro Feliciano made quick work of the eighth, and closer Francisco Rodriguez did his job in the ninth. Another shutout, a sweep, and suddenly the Mets are on the Phillies doorstep.

According to ESPN Stats and Information , as documented in their recap of the Mets 3-0 victory, “Only two other teams in major league history—and when Elias says “major league history,” they mean back to 1876 (not 1952)—swept three or more games from a first-place team without allowing any runs: the Orioles over the Red Sox in 1974 and the Washington Senators over the Philadelphia A’s in 1913.

Also, “It was the second time in Mets history they have shut out the same team in three straight games (last time was in 1969, also against the Phillies).” And last but not least: “Not since 2004 had any team shut out another club in a three-game series—Johan Santana and Minnesota blanked Kansas City in that set,” STATS LLC said.

It’s one thing if this three-game sweep full of zeroes comes against a pitiful offense. But these are the defending National League Champions, a team full of .300 hitters and 30-plus homer talent.

As noted in that ESPN recap, “The 2010 Phils are the first league champ in MLB history to be held scoreless in a series lasting at least three games.” On top of that, they haven’t scored in 46 of their past 47 innings. Still, the still-division leaders are taking this humiliating stretch with a grain of salt.

Werth said afterwards, “Big picture, a loss is a loss, no matter how you spin it. We’re still in first place.” If their struggles at the plate continue and if the Mets keep shutting down opponents, they won’t be for much longer.

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Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

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