After seeing their lead in the NL East shrink in the week prior to the All-Star break, the Philadelphia Phillies continue a tough stretch against division rivals when they open a four-game set in New York against the Mets.
Philadelphia’s lead in the division was shaved to one game with a 6-4 loss to Atlanta on Sunday.
The Phillies have lost four of their last six, all of which came against NL East rivals Atlanta and New York. Two games separate four teams in the division race, with the Mets just two games back in fourth place.
With this game, Philadelphia is opening an eight-game stretch against its main competitors.
“There’s three or four teams in this division that are really battling among each other,” Phillies All-Star Jim Thome said. “We’re happy where we’re at. We just need to come out in the second half and stay focused, because we have some teams bearing down on us.”
The pressure will certainly be on the Phillies on Thursday as they will be facing Mets starter Steve Trachsel, who is 2-0 with a 0.65 ERA against Philadelphia this season.
The 33-year-old right-hander faced the Phillies on July 7, allowing one run and five hits over seven innings in the Mets’ 10-1 win. Trachsel is 10-7 with a 3.58 ERA in 23 career starts against Philadelphia.
The Mets had some opportunities to close the gap even more on the Phillies over the weekend, but instead limped into the break with two losses in three games against Florida.
“It’s evident that we need a few days (off),” Mets manager Art Howe said Sunday. “We’ve had to keep grinding just to get where we are.”
New York’s 24 home wins are second only to Philadelphia in the NL East.