The Phillies have a chance to close ground, and even overtake the division lead from the Mets this weekend. However, the Phils face an uphill climb with three inexperienced pitchers scheduled to throw, including today's starter, J.D. Durbin.
Preview: Led by Jimmy Rollins, the Phils closed out their series with a 8-7, 10-inning victory over the Reds last night. The win improved them to 41-37 (.526) on the season and three-games back of the incoming Mets. The series featured plenty of clutch offense, but also some shaky moments from the Phillies’ bullpen, which will now head into today’s day-night double header on short rest and J.D. Durbin making his Phillies debut.
Durbin pitched in one game for the Arizona Diamondbacks earlier this season and lasted 2-3 of an inning and allowed seven runs. He was 2-4 with a 4.55 ERA in 10 starts with Ottawa, the Phillies’ Triple-A affiliate. This is Durbin’s first major league start since 2004.
Last night’s Mets game was rained out in St. Louis, so they’re rested and ready. Stumbling through most of June, the Mets turned the corner last weekend with a three-game sweep in Oakland. They followed with a couple wins in St. Louis and are winners of five of six.
The Mets will switch Orlando Hernandez (3-3, 2.77 ERA) into the first game and start John Maine tonight against Cole Hamels. Hernandez, having a good season, did not factor in the decision in the Mets' 1-0 win over Oakland. He is 0-1 with a 7.58 ERA in four career starts against the Phils.
Key matchups: Jose Reyes versus Phillies pitching. Reyes is a career .337 hitter with .928 OPS against the Phils, highest against any team besides Baltimore and Toronto. Jimmy Rollins versus the Mets. J-Roll has backed up his pre-season boasting with a fine season against his adversary. He’s 13-for-32 (.406) with a 1.238 OPS and three homers against them. Pat Burrell versus Billy Wagner. Burrell hit a game-tying home run off Wagner in the ninth inning back on June 6 in New York, helping complete a stunning three-game sweep. It snapped Wagner’s string of 31 consecutive successful save opportunities and was Burrell’s 17th homer at Shea. Cole Hamels versus Paul LoDuca. Hamels was upset at LoDuca's posturing last series and LoDuca fired back on WFAN radio, saying he “could give a rat's 'you know what' ” about Hamels or his statements. Lastly, Julio Franco, age 48, versus Jose Mesa, age unknown. For no other reason than the novelty of it.
Mets fan perspective: Tom Goyne of the Phillies blog "Balls, Sticks & Stuff" interviews "Metsblog" writer D.J. Short to get the lowdown on the state of the Mets. [Link]