It’ll be hard for him to look any better than he has against the Philadelphia Phillies.
One day after the Mets received their shortest start of the year, Maine will try to continue his dominance of the Phillies when the NL East rivals wrap up a three-game set on Sunday at Citizens Bank Park.
Maine (1-2, 5.40 ERA) got off to a rocky start, going 0-2 with a 7.47 ERA in his first three outings. He failed to make it through six innings in any of them, part of a recurring theme for New York’s rotation.
The Mets (10-13) have failed to get six innings from a starter in 15 of their 23 games, including 14 of 18 started by someone other than Johan Santana.
Maine finally broke through on Monday, giving up just one hit and a run in six innings in a 7-1 win against Florida.
“I think my first few starts I was really rushing myself,” Maine said. “For some reason, I just get a little too excited out there.”
Facing Philadelphia (12-10) may be what Maine needs to keep that momentum going. The right-hander is 5-0 with a 2.54 ERA in nine career starts against the Phillies, limiting them to a .211 batting average.
Shane Victorino is hitting .316 (6-for-19) with a homer against Maine, and the center fielder helped lead the Phillies to an extra-inning victory on Saturday. Victorino tripled and doubled in his first two at-bats to help knock starter Oliver Perez out after 2 1-3 innings, then drew a bases-loaded walk off Sean Green in the 10th to give Philadelphia a 6-5 win.
“You try to tell yourself to be patient,” Victorino told the Phillies’ official Web site. “He’s got to find the zone. He has as much pressure on him as you have.”
While New York has had trouble getting its starters to go deep in games, it’s been even more of an issue for Philadelphia’s rotation. Phillies starters have just four wins in 22 games and a 6.71 ERA, both of which are the worst in the major leagues.
Joe Blanton (0-2, 8.41) is still looking for his first victory, and he took a step back in his last outing after a pair of effective starts. The right-hander gave up six runs and eight hits - including three homers - in Philadelphia’s 13-11 win over Washington on Monday.
“Where do we start?” Blanton said. “I was terrible. I pretty much stunk. I was missing my spots and getting too much of the plate. It was probably the worst start I’ve had here.”
Blanton’s first start with the Phillies came against the Mets on July 22, five days after he was acquired from Oakland, and it wasn’t impressive. He gave up five runs and eight hits - including homers to Carlos Delgado and Ramon Castro - but Philadelphia rallied to win 8-6.
Blanton may not have to worry about Delgado on Sunday. The Mets’ first baseman has missed five straight games due to a right hip injury, though he did pinch hit Saturday.
Phillies second baseman Chase Utley, meanwhile, didn’t play Saturday after getting hit with a pitch in his right foot Friday. Utley, tied for the team lead with eight homers and 21 RBIs, is expected back on Sunday.