The Philadelphia Phillies are trying to stop their free fall,
and getting Ryan Howard and Hunter Pence back should help.
Visits to Citi Field also usually aid the five-time NL East
champions, but Cole Hamels hasn’t had success anywhere against the
New York Mets.
With Howard and Pence slated to return Saturday, Hamels tries to
help the Phillies avoid their longest slide in more than five years
when they open a day-night doubleheader against the Mets after
Friday’s matchup was postponed due to rain.
Philadelphia (98-58) has clinched the best record in the NL and
is three wins shy of the club record set in 1976 and matched in
1977. The Phillies, though, have lost six in a row since clinching
a fifth consecutive East title with last Saturday’s win over St.
Thursday’s 6-1 loss to Washington put Philadelphia on the brink
of its first seven-game skid since June 20-28, 2006.
“I’m concerned some but I’m not in a knee-jerk reaction,”
manager Charlie Manuel said. “I’m not going to panic. If you panic,
you get beat.
“We have six games left and that’s definitely enough time but
it’s time for us to get ready for the playoffs. We’re sitting in a
real good position but we definitely need to pick it up some.”
Philadelphia may be in position to start picking it up again
with Howard and Pence returning.
Howard, the team leader with 33 homers and 113 RBIs, has missed
each game of the losing streak with an ankle injury, while Pence’s
left knee has sidelined him for three contests.
A series at Citi Field may also provide a lift for the Phillies,
who have won eight of their last 11 there and hold a 10-5 overall
advantage in the season series with New York (74-82).
Hamels (14-9, 2.80 ERA), one win shy of tying his career mark
set in 2007, hasn’t been a big part of that success against the
Mets, going 3-10 with a 4.69 ERA in 16 starts.
The left-hander has lost six of his last seven starts versus New
York behind a 5.49 ERA, including an 11-2 defeat at Citi Field on
July 16. He was tagged for seven runs and eight hits with four
walks in 4 1-3 innings.
Hamels hasn’t been much better over his last two starts overall,
losing both while posting a 6.00 ERA.
The Mets have dropped nine of 12 but thrived in a spoiler’s role
Thursday, rallying for six runs in the ninth to beat the wild-card
hopeful Cardinals 8-6.
“When you go to work you should go to work hard,” said Willie
Harris, who scored and drove in two runs in two plate appearances
in the ninth. “I think (Thursday) shows these guys in this locker
room care about each other and we want to win.”
Mets Game 1 starter R.A. Dickey (8-13, 3.35) could use another
strong effort from the offense after he got two runs of support
while losing his last two outings. The knuckleballer had a 1.84 ERA
in those starts.
Dickey is 2-1 with a 1.64 ERA in three career starts against the
Phillies at Citi Field, losing 7-2 on July 15. He allowed four runs
in seven innings after tossing 15 scoreless frames in the two
previous home meetings.
Shortstop Jose Reyes, hitting .329 and in a tight race with
Milwaukee’s Ryan Braun in trying to become the first Met to win the
batting title, is hitting .423 in his last 12 home games versus
Philadelphia. He is a .324 career hitter off Hamels.
Reyes, though, may want to take the second game off. He is 4 for
21 (.190) against Joe Blanton (1-2, 5.30), who will be making his
fourth appearance and first start since returning Sept. 12 after
missing four months with an elbow injury.
The right-hander has pitched just three innings since coming
back, allowing a run and three hits while striking out four.
He got roughed up in his only start against New York this season
but didn’t receive a decision after allowing seven runs and 10 hits
over 4 1-3 innings of a 10-7 win in Philadelphia on April 6.
Blanton had been 3-1 with a 2.64 ERA in his first seven starts
versus the Mets, who will counter with Dillon Gee in the
Gee (12-6, 4.48) is 0-1 with a 6.00 ERA in his last four starts,
and the right-hander’s numbers may not improve with a matchup
He is 0-1 with a 20.25 ERA in two appearances – one start – this
season versus the Phillies, both coming on the road. He has never
faced them at Citi Field.