The New York Mets are doing their best to finish a difficult June on a high note.
They look to build off a doubleheader sweep of the Philadelphia Phillies when the teams continue their four-game series Saturday afternoon at Citizens Bank Park.
New York (45-33) beat Philadelphia 6-5 in the opener of Friday’s day-night doubleheader and wrapped up the sweep with a 5-2 win in the nightcap. The victories moved the NL East-leading Mets five games ahead of the Phillies (41-39), who dropped one game behind second-place Atlanta.
“We feel good about ourselves,” said Mets center fielder Carlos Beltran, who homered twice in the second game. “We know the Phillies are contenders. This is a real important series.”
The Mets remain in first despite starting June with a 4-14 slump that included a three-game sweep at the hand of the Phillies in New York. However, they have won seven of their last eight and have their sights set on a sweep of their NL East rivals.
“Why not go after them that way?” Mets manager Willie Randolph told his team’s official Web site.
“Let’s just start to play well and consistently,” Randolph said. “We’ve had our ups and downs the last three weeks. We’re beyond that now.”
“It’s not life or death,” Cole Hamels, who took the loss in the second game, told the Phillies’ Web site. “Even if we lose the next two games, we still have weeks and months of the season left.”
Philadelphia is using a slew of young pitchers against the Mets. J.D. Durbin made his second career start in the first game of Friday’s doubleheader, Kyle Kendrick will make his fourth on Sunday and J.A. Happ will make his major league debut on Saturday.
Happ went 1-2 with a 4.02 ERA in 13 starts at Triple-A Ottawa. He has made only three starts since missing time with left elbow tendinitis, but threw 95 pitches in his last outing on Sunday.
With their untested starters on the mound, the Phillies are hoping to rely on an offense that leads the National League with 414 runs scored. They got homers from Aaron Rowand, Wes Helms and Chris Coste in Friday’s first game, and Chase Utley drove in a pair of runs in the second.
On Saturday, the Phillies will be up against New York starter Jorge Sosa (6-3, 3.79 ERA), who allowed just one run in six innings of the Mets’ 11-inning, 2-1 win over St. Louis on Monday. Even though he didn’t earn the win, he bounced back nicely after allowing 13 runs in nine innings in his previous two starts, both losses.
Sosa is 2-1 with a 3.03 ERA in nine career appearances - four starts - against the Phillies.