The NL East-leading Mets hope to have their starting center fielder back in the lineup Tuesday when they open a three-game series with the Philadelphia Phillies at Shea Stadium.
Beltran has not played since Thursday, when he hurt his right knee in a collision with San Francisco’s Rich Aurilia. New York (35-20) is already without outfielders Shawn Green and Moises Alou, both of whom are on the disabled list, though Alou hopes to return sometime during this series.
“Tuesday, I’m going to be able to be in the lineup, for sure,” Beltran said. “(Monday)’s a day off, so it’s going to be better for me.”
Beltran is hitting .297 with eight homers and 35 RBIs, and the Mets could certainly use the jolt his bat would give their offense. New York is 2-3 over its last five games, and has scored just two total runs in those three defeats.
The Mets were held to six hits in Sunday’s 4-1 loss to Arizona. The makeshift outfield of Ben Johnson in left, Endy Chavez in center and Carlos Gomez in right managed four of those hits in 11 total at-bats.
New York leads second-place Atlanta by four games in the East and the third-place Phillies (28-29) by eight games.
“You go out there and you have a tough series against a team like Philadelphia, (which) can come in here and sweep you - all of a sudden, that little lead that we have in our division goes down to nothing,” third baseman David Wright told the Mets’ official Web site. “We have to fight to stay on top. We have to make sure we go out there and take care of business.”
The Phillies are coming off a 2-5 homestand that was capped by Monday’s 8-1 loss to San Francisco. Philadelphia went just 10-for-58 (.172) with runners in scoring position over the seven games, including 1-for-14 Monday.
“We haven’t played up to our capability,” first baseman Ryan Howard said. “The bright side is we haven’t played our best ball. Hopefully we can keep ourselves in striking range.”
The Phillies will send 44-year-old Jamie Moyer (5-4, 4.23 ERA) to the mound in the series opener. He gave up four runs and three homers in 7 2-3 innings of Wednesday’s 4-3 loss to Arizona and was outpitched by Randy Johnson, as the two starters broke the record for the matchup of the oldest left-handers in history at a combined 88 years, 90 days.
When Moyer last squared off against the 41-year-old Tom Glavine (5-3, 3.44) on April 12, they set the record at 85 years, 163 days - Moyer and Johnson have met twice since. Both Moyer and Glavine went six innings in that game, with Moyer allowing four runs and taking the loss and Glavine yielding three runs to earn the win.
Moyer is 5-3 with a 2.91 ERA in 11 career starts against the Mets, while Glavine is 28-17 with a 3.80 ERA in 61 starts against the Phillies.
Glavine allowed three runs in seven innings of Wednesday’s 3-0 loss to the Giants, failing in his second shot at career win No. 296. Glavine has lasted at least six innings in 11 of his 12 starts this season, and allowed three or fewer earned runs in all but two outings.