Philadelphia Phillies leadoff hitter Jimmy Rollins(notes) is showing signs of breaking out after a long slump. His recent success, however, can easily come to a quick end versus New York Mets ace Johan Santana(notes).
With a chance to sweep a home series for just the second time this season, Rollins and the Phillies look to end their struggles against Santana in the finale of a three-game set with the Mets on Sunday.
Rollins hit a two-run double as Philadelphia (41-37) won the middle game of this series 4-1 on Saturday. The 2007 NL MVP is 5 for 11 with three doubles after an 0-for-28 skid.
Rollins, who was benched four games during a recent road trip, is hitting just .213.
He has helped put the NL-East leading Phillies in position to win their fifth straight against the rival Mets (39-41) and sweep a series at home for the first time since a three-game set with Washington from May 29-31.
“It’s good to have a winning streak at home,” Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said.
The Phillies, who had gone 1-8 on their previous homestand, are 15-22 at home. Philadelphia may have a tough time continuing its momentum as Santana (9-6, 3.34 ERA) takes his turn in New York’s rotation.
Santana has won three straight starts against the Phillies, posting a 2.95 ERA during that stretch. He’s 4-0 with a 2.95 ERA in eight career starts against them.
Santana, however, has lost three of his last four starts and was particularly shaky in his last outing. He gave up six runs, nine hits and walked four in six innings of New York’s 6-3 loss at Milwaukee on Tuesday night.
Santana has a 10.20 ERA in losing his last three road starts.
The Phillies have lost the last five games Blanton has started, including a 5-4 defeat in 10 innings against Atlanta on Tuesday night. He gave up three runs and eight hits in five innings.
The right-hander is 1-0 with a 2.14 ERA in three career starts against the Mets.
New York second baseman Luis Castillo(notes) is batting .500 (7 for 14) against Blanton, but he went 0 for 4 in the leadoff spot Saturday as the Mets were held to two runs or fewer for the third time in four games.
“I think they’re trying,” manager Jerry Manuel said. “They’re just not playing the best baseball at this point. We’re struggling right now. It’s tough.”
Manuel desperately needs David Wright(notes) to provide consistent hitting in the middle of the lineup, but he’s 5 for 37 (.135) over his last nine games, dropping his average from .356 to .329. Wright was hitting .542 (13 for 24) in his last seven games versus the Phillies prior to going 0 for 8 in this series.
With Castillo and Wright two of the few regulars remaining in a banged-up lineup, New York has lost seven of its last nine. Still, the Mets are only three games behind the Phillies.