Phillies-Mets postponed by rain, DH on Saturday
Cliff Lee and Hunter Pence sat on either side of the chess
board, staring at bishops and rooks as a steady rain fell
With the wet weather granting them a rare breather on a gloomy
evening at Citi Field, the slumping Phillies have but a few days
left to get all their pieces in place for baseball’s ultimate end
Philadelphia’s series opener Friday night against the New York
Mets was postponed before it started and will be made up as part of
a day-night doubleheader Saturday – though rain is in the forecast
again. The first game is slated to begin at 1:10 p.m., with the
nightcap set for 7:10 p.m.
And although the NL East champions are eager to end their
season-worst, six-game losing streak, manager Charlie Manuel thinks
his club can benefit from the rest. Due to makeup games and
doubleheaders, the banged-up Phillies are in the midst of playing
33 games in 31 days to finish the regular season.
”We could definitely use a day,” Manuel said before the game
was called. ”We’re definitely kind of out of whack. We’re out of
tune, our timing and stuff. We need to get back in the groove, we
need to get back and play like we can. I think a day off would help
Looking to get his slumbering offense clicking again in time for
the playoffs, Manuel had most of his regulars in the posted lineup
Friday even though Philadelphia had already clinched home-field
advantage throughout the postseason.
Second baseman Chase Utley was set to rest but slugger Ryan
Howard, who had an anti-inflammatory injection in his sore left
ankle Monday, was in his customary cleanup spot. Pence, nursing a
strained left knee, is expected back in right field Saturday.
Six regular-season games remain before the Phillies open the
playoffs Oct. 1.
”We want to get winning. We want to get rolling,” said center
fielder Shane Victorino, who went 0 for 15 during Washington’s
four-game sweep in Philadelphia this week. ”You’ve got to figure
it out sooner than later.
”Clinching early was great, but again sometimes that team
that’s rolling at the end of the year that gets in hot is the one
that usually has the most success,” he added. ”But I think the
experience that we have here – and that’s a lot – in postseason
play, I think that helps a lot and will come into play.”
The Phillies are winless since wrapping up their fifth
consecutive division title last Saturday. They are averaging 2.47
runs while going 5-10 in their last 15 games, scoring three or
fewer 13 times during that stretch.
Not exactly how they want to be swinging the bats heading into
the NL playoffs, where the pitching-rich Phillies will be heavy
favorites thanks to a fearsome rotation that features Lee, Roy
Halladay, Cole Hamels and Roy Oswalt.
”We want to be ready. We want to go in on a real positive
note,” Manuel said. ”We celebrated, and we’ve had a great year.
But we’re in a position where we could have a really special year.
… A lot of us are trying too hard. Some of us are maybe not
focused as much as we could be. All we’ve got to do is get back and
play the way we want to. We play because we want to, not because we
have to. And we always play in a relaxed atmosphere and we get
after it. We go back and we start doing that these last six
ballgames, we’ll go into the playoffs fired up and ready to
Hamels had been slated to pitch Friday night against New York
knuckleballer R.A. Dickey. Both starters were pushed back to the
first game Saturday, when Hamels will try to match a career high
with his 15th win.
The rainout means that after Saturday, Hamels may not get
another full outing in before the playoffs begin. Just a tuneup,
Mets rookie Dillon Gee starts the nightcap against Joe Blanton,
with the Phillies planning to use their bullpen extensively.
During the final week of the regular season, Major League
Baseball makes the call on rainouts in order to preserve the
integrity of pennant races. Across town, the Boston Red Sox and New
York Yankees also had their game postponed in a series with much
more at stake than the one at Citi Field.
”It’s really an extra night’s sleep, if anything,” said
Dickey, who is 4-5 during a run of 11 consecutive quality starts.
”It can be to your benefit, because you have one extra day to kind
NOTES: The start time of Sunday’s game was moved back an hour to
2:10 p.m. … Phillies pitching coach Rich Dubee said he figured
out what left-handed reliever Antonio Bastardo was doing during his
delivery that was tipping his pitches to opponents. He informed
Bastardo, who said it has something to do with the way he was
holding the ball on his slider. Both said it’s an easy fix. …
Mets RF Lucas Duda is still having headaches after crashing into
the outfield fence Wednesday in St. Louis. He had an MRI exam and
was not in the lineup, but manager Terry Collins said Duda’s
production at the plate has earned him a projected starting spot in
the outfield going into next season. … New York CF Angel Pagan
also is having headaches after hitting himself in the back of the
head on a backswing Thursday. Pagan was pulled from the posted
lineup and replaced by Jason Pridie.