Philadelphia’s 10-game homestand got off to a rough start, but now the Phillies have a chance to end it on a very high note.
They’ll be looking to finish off a four-game sweep of the NL East-leading New York Mets on Thursday at Citizens Bank Park.
The Phillies (70-62) opened the homestand with a win over the Los Angeles Dodgers before losing their next four games. However, Philadelphia rebounded with a win in the finale of its three-game set with San Diego, and the three wins over the Mets (73-59) have moved the Phillies within three games of the division lead.
A win Thursday would give the Phillies their first four-game sweep of the Mets since Sept. 4-7, 2003, also in Philadelphia. It would also give the Phillies their second series sweep of New York this season - they took three games at Shea Stadium from June 5-7.
Jimmy Rollins hit his 24th home run in Wednesday’s 3-2 win, and is batting .344 (21-for-61) with six homers and 11 RBIs against the Mets this year. Rollins riled New York before the season by saying Philadelphia, which hasn’t won a division title since 1993, was the team to beat in the NL East—not the defending division champion Mets.
“The experience we’ve gotten the last two years has really shown up,” said manager Charlie Manuel, whose Phillies just missed out on the wild card the last two seasons and have finished in second place in the East in each of the last three.
Wednesday’s victory - Philadelphia’s fourth straight overall against the Mets - didn’t come without some controversy. The game ended when Marlon Anderson was called for interference for knocking down Philadelphia’s Tadahito Iguchi on a double-play attempt.
Umpires awarded the Phillies both outs, and the tying run was unable to score from third. Anderson ripped off his helmet and jumped in protest of the call, but to no avail.
“I know it shouldn’t have been a double play, but at the same time we have to abide by the rule of the umpire,” he said.
The Mets have dropped four straight, scoring only two runs in each, and are 2-6 since winning seven of eight to seemingly take control of the division. David Wright went 2-for-3 with a homer Thursday after going 0-for-8 through the first two games of the series.
However, the top two hitters in New York’s lineup—Jose Reyes and Luis Castillo—are a combined 2-for-25 with no RBIs or runs in this series. Reyes was caught stealing twice on Wednesday, the first time that’s happened in a game all season to the man who leads the majors with 71 steals.
New York will turn to its hottest pitcher as it looks to avoid the sweep. Orlando Hernandez (9-4, 3.07 ERA) is 5-0 with a 2.87 ERA over his last nine starts—all Mets wins.
Just as he did to beat Washington in his previous start, Hernandez allowed two runs in seven innings on Saturday to win his second straight outing as the Mets beat the Los Angeles Dodgers 4-3.
“Another masterful job by El Duque. When he’s in that rhythm like that, it’s beautiful to watch,” manager Willie Randolph said.
The 37-year-old right-hander has struggled somewhat with the Phillies, going 1-1 with a 6.48 ERA in five career starts. However, the lone win came in his last start against them on June 29, when he allowed two runs in six innings of a 6-5 win.
Philadelphia counters with Kyle Lohse (7-12, 4.47), who was acquired in a July 30 trade with Cincinnati and is coming off his best start with the Phillies. He gave up one run in 6 2-3 innings on Saturday, but was denied a decision in Philadelphia’s 4-3 loss to San Diego.
Lohse is 1-0 with a 3.95 ERA in five starts for Philadelphia, and has gone at least 6 1-3 innings in each of the last four.
He has made two starts versus the Mets, going 0-1 with a 5.40 ERA. The loss came in his only start against them this year, yielding five runs in 4 2-3 innings of a 5-2 defeat in New York on July 15.
Mets center fielder Carlos Beltran is batting .542 (13-for-24) with four homers all-time against Lohse.