The remnants of Tropical Storm Hanna have set up a crucial day with major playoff implications at Shea Stadium on Sunday.
After Saturday’s game was rained out, the NL East-leading New York Mets and second-place Philadelphia Phillies finish off their season series with a day-night doubleheader that could reshape the division standings.
The Phillies (77-64) entered this three-game set trailing the Mets (79-62) by three games for the NL East lead. Philadelphia cut a game off that deficit with a 3-0 win in Friday’s opener behind a strong pitching performance from Brett Myers.
The Phillies now can pull into a first-place tie with a sweep Sunday, but they could also find themselves four games out of first if the Mets pull off the sweep. Philadelphia is trying to rally past New York in the standings for a second consecutive season.
The Phillies overcame a seven-game deficit with 17 to play to win the East on the final day of the regular season last September, eliminating the Mets from playoff contention. That epic comeback also began with a three-game sweep at Shea, and escalated an already bitter rivalry.
Despite having retired nearly 20 years ago, Hall of Fame slugger Mike Schmidt managed to add some excitement to the rivalry with an e-mail he sent to Philadelphia manager Charlie Manuel before Friday’s game.
Manuel posted the e-mail on the inside door of the clubhouse, and part of it read: “the Mets know you’re better than they are. They remember last year.”
New York is trying to focus on its play on the field, and not worry about the rallying cry from Schmidt.
“I have absolutely nothing to say to Mike Schmidt,” said Mets first baseman Carlos Delgado, hitting .333 (13-for-39) with three homers and seven RBIs in his last nine games against the Phillies. “I guess he was bored one afternoon, so fine with me.”
Sunday afternoon begins with Philadelphia’s Jamie Moyer (12-7, 3.80 ERA) opposing New York’s Pedro Martinez (5-3, 5.07). The nightcap features a matchup of staff aces, as Cole Hamels (12-8, 3.01) and Johan Santana (12-7, 2.71) square off.
Moyer is 5-1 with a 3.29 ERA in his last 11 starts, and has allowed three runs or less in 15 of his last 16 outings. The 45-year-old left-hander has been even better on the road lately, going 4-0 with a 2.30 ERA in his last five starts away from Citizens Bank Park.
Moyer continued his impressive run Sunday, allowing two runs in 5 1-3 innings of a 5-3 road victory over NL Central-leading Chicago.
Delgado, though, is hitting .397 (31-for-78) with eight homers lifetime off Moyer, who is 1-1 with a 4.40 ERA in five starts versus New York this year. He’s 1-0 with a 2.33 ERA in his last four outings at Shea Stadium.
Martinez, meanwhile, is 2-0 with a 3.77 ERA in his last five starts overall.
The right-hander won at Florida on Sunday, yielding two runs and seven hits in six innings of a 6-2 victory.
“Pedro was Pedro,” Mets manager Jerry Manuel said. “He didn’t have his greatest stuff, but he pitched magnificently.”
The three-time Cy Young Award winner is 3-2 with a 5.08 ERA in eight starts against the Phillies since joining the Mets in 2005. Martinez gave up five runs and seven hits in five innings of an 8-7, 13-inning loss to Philadelphia on Aug. 26.
Santana, a two-time Cy Young Award winner, is 1-0 with a 3.10 ERA in four starts versus Philadelphia this season, his first with New York.
Santana, who hasn’t lost since June 28 to the New York Yankees, is again dominating the opposition after the All-Star break. The left-hander is 4-0 with a 2.47 ERA in 10 starts since the break, and is 49-11 with a 2.46 ERA in 84 such starts since 2003.
Hamels also has been pitching well lately, allowing two earned runs or less in six consecutive starts. The left-hander is 3-0 with a 1.23 ERA in his last four outings after going a career-high seven straight starts without a victory.
In his only start against the Mets this season on April 18, Hamels allowed five runs and eight hits in seven innings of a 6-4 loss.