Only five games separate the first-place Phillies (26-17) and last-place Mets (22-23) when the NL East rivals start a three-game series tonight at Citi Field. First pitch is 7:10.
Preview: For the first time since the last time these teams met, the Mets had something to smile about this weekend when they stunned the Yankees by taking two-out-of-three in the Subway Series. Otherwise, the Mets would rather put the month of May behind them (8-14, .364). Meanwhile, it's been a month of peaks for the Phillies (14-7, .667), but the three-time division champs have stumbled into a valley over their last six games, going 2-6 including an interleague series loss to the Red Sox.
For the Mets, the biggest problem is an offense that doesn't hit, ranking fourth from the bottom in the league in OPS (.707). Pitching-wise, they've been solid, but perhaps the best facet of their season has been their performance at home; at Citi Field, they're 16-9 with a 117-83 run differential.
The Phillies will be hoping to change that. Lifetime, they're 5-4 at Citi Field and have won 13 of their last 16 games against the Mets total, including a series win earlier in the season. The mood surrounding the team has been higher following a 3-4 homestand that featured some rather lousy hitting.
Notes: Jimmy Rollins did not travel with the team and will begin a rehab assignment in Clearwater tomorrow, according to reports. Brad Lidge pitched a fastball-only bullpen session and reported no pain.
Lineups are posted: Victorino, Polanco, Utley, Howard, Werth, Ibanez, Ruiz, Castro for the Phils. Reyes, Castillo, Bay, Davis, Wright, Pagan, Barajas, Francouer for the Mets. Barajas is 5-for-8 with three home runs and 5 RBIs against the Phils this season. This will be the Phils' first time facing knuckleballer R.A. Dickey, who is making his second appearance for the Mets following a six-inning, two-run debut.
Series pitching matchups:
Jamie Moyer (5-3, 4.30) vs. R.A. Dickey (0-0, 3.00)
Joe Blanton (1-2, 5.06) vs. Hisanori Takahashi (3-1, 2.53)
Cole Hamels (5-2, 3.92) vs. Mike Pelfrey (6-1, 3.86)