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Mets top Phillies for NL East lead

Mets/Phillies Recap 7/22-Tuesday - Mets lose heartbreaker 8-6 to the Philadelphia Phillies

The New York Mets (52-44) entered Tuesday night's opening game of the series against the Phillies (52-44) tied for the NL East lead with those same rival Phils. This was "supposed" to be a statement game for the Mets, a statement saying that this wasn't the same New York team that lost their last eight games against the Phillies last year. A statement game to say that this was NOT the same Met team that blew a 7 game lead with 17 to play coming down the stretch in September of last year. This game was "supposed" to be a statement from the New York Mets to the Phillies and the rest of the league that they are the team to beat in the NL which many thought they would be entering the season. That statement was never made. Instead the Mets confirmed to everyone who cared to watch that history can repeat itself and that they days of late-inning meltdowns are not yet behind them.

New York Mets JerseysThe game did not start out the way the Mets had hoped when the Phillies hit 3 consecutive two out singles by Burrell, Howard, and Werth to take an early 1-0 lead against Cy Young caliber "Ace" Johan Santana (8-7). Taking the hill for the Phillies was the new acquisition from Oakland Joe Blanton (5-12) who had not pitched in 13 days but who held his own through the first two innings against the Mets allowing no runs on 2 hits. It was not until David Wright's double in the third which scored Jose Reyes and almost scored Endy Chavez(thrown out at the plate) that Blanton allowed his first run against these Mets in 3 starts. Two batters later Carlos Delgado took an 0-2 curve ball over the wall in right for a 2-run home run to give the Mets the lead for the first time in the series 3-1. That is where the score remained for the next 3 innings as both pitchers cruised until the bottom of the sixth inning when Ramon Castro hit a 2-run shot over the left field wall to stretch the lead to 5-1. With Santana on cruise control and a fairly low pitch count through six innings it seemed as though the Mets were all but guaranteed to take game one of this three game series. With the exception of a Shane Victorinos' homer in the seventh Santana remained on cruise control before he was pulled from the game after the 8th inning compiling a line of 8 innings pitched, allowing 8 hits, 2 runs while striking out 4. Wait a second, are you telling me that Jerry Manuel is pulling the Mets $127 million dollar "Ace" with a pitch count of 105 and their everyday closer Billy "The Kid" Wagner unavailable due to muscle spasms around his left shoulder joint? Yes that is exactly what was happening. Understanding that hindsight is always 20/20 it is still never a good idea to take relief pitchers out of their roles if you do not have to. That is exactly what Manuel did by having Duaner Sanchez(5-1) come in to close out the ninth. Obviously uncomfortable with this closer role Sanchez let up three consecutive singles to Jayson Werth, Gregg Dobbs, and Shane Victorino which loaded the bases before he was relieved by the young side armed righty Joe Smith. The first and only batter he faced was Carlos Ruiz who grounded into what was scored a fielders choice allowing Werth to score bringing the Phillies to within two runs. On this "fielders choice" Jose Reyes bare-handed a short-hop close to second base and instead of getting the sure out at first decided to try and step on second and get the force out. It was not to be, the outcome instead was that everyone was safe and a run was in. Enter Pedro Feliciano who had two strikes on So Taguchi only to let him rip a double over the head of Endy Chavez in right(who was playing extremely shallow) scoring Dobbs and Victorino and tying the game at 5-5. The next batter was Jimmy Rollins, former MVP who has not been playing up to those standards. He proceeded to send a double to left scoring Ruiz and Taguchi and propelling the Phillies to an 8-6 come from behind victory over the Mets. Chad Durbin(3-2) picked up the win for the Phillies, Brad Lidge collected his 22nd save while poor Joe Smith(1-2) picked up the loss.

With this heart-wrenching loss a "statement" was indeed made by the Mets, however the statement was not what the Metropolitans' and their fans had in mind entering tonight's game. Instead of coming out with a win stating that they are not the same team that collapsed last September the Mets managed to prove that they are very much that same team with or without Johan and proved that the hangover has not yet subsided. There are not many circumstances that present themselves in Major League Baseball when one is able to say that two games at the end of July can make or break a teams season but that circumstance has more than presented itself for the Mets. Will this terrible loss shake them up enough for them to bounce back, take the next two games, and silence the critics? Or is this the beginning of the end where they fold and pack it in for an early fall vacation? These next two games are as close as any team can get to must wins at the end of July. Do or die!

Mets/Phillies 7/23-Wednesday - Mets Bounce back and beat Phillies 6-3

With that terrible loss behind them the Mets entered Wednesday nights' game against the Phillies as optimistic as they could be. Realizing that although the way they lost the game on Tuesday night was enough to make a team sick it was still only one game. Unlike taking a hard loss in the NFL where you have to second guess and let it fester for at least a week, in Major League Baseball you get to come back to the park the next night and put the previous games' hardships behind you. That is exactly what the Mets did on Wednesday.

John Maine (9-7) who is 0-2 having allowed 15 earned runs in his last 4 starts got the nod for the Mets on Wednesday. His counterpart throwing for the Phillies was Brett Myers (3-9) who was making his first start since his return from the minors. Despite Myers' distaste for the Mets he found it difficult to find the stike zone in the early going walking four of the first five batters he faced and helping the Mets get a much needed early lead. Carlos Beltran walked with the bases loaded scoring Endy Chavez to give the Mets that early 1-0 lead. New York would only tack on one more run in the first when Marlon Anderson grounded out to second scoring David Wright. This lead would not last very long as John Maine gave up back to back homeruns to the 6th and 7th batters in the Phillies lineup Shane Victorino and Geoff Jenkins in the top of the second inning. After David Wrights' second walk of the game in the 3rd inning, Delgado was hit in the hand by a Myers pitch (he stayed in the game and is fine) followed by a single by Beltran that would load up the bases. An infield single to the shortstop by Damion Easely would score Wright and put the Mets back on top 3-2. New York would hold that lead until the top of the fifth when Jimmy Rollins doubled to right-center scoring Carlos Ruiz who had reached on a single to right and was sacrificed over to second by Myers. With the score knotted up at 3-3 Ryan Madson otherwise known as "Mad Dog" in Philly circles took over for Brett Myers in the bottom of the sixth inning. Easely would dig in first against Madson and would go on to reach base on his second infield single of the game which was then followed by a Brian Schneider single to center. Two batters later with runners on first and second Jose Reyes would hit his 11th homerun of the season, a three-run shot over the right field wall to propel the Mets to a 6-3 lead, a lead that the Mets would never relinquish. New York would send in Billy "The Kid" Wagner in the 9th to close it out, a beautiful sight for Met fans and players alike after the bullpen disaster that took place just 24 hours prior. Wagner would retire all three batters he faced as he helped put New York right back on track and wash out that bad taste from their mouths that had been lingering from Tuesday night's loss. Now tied again with the Phillies (54-47) atop the NL East the Mets (54-47) look to take their fourth consecutive series against the Phils with a win on Wednesday afternoon.

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Mets/ Phillies Recap 7/24-Thursday - Mets win 3-1 take the series against the Phils thanks to
big late inning hit

The Mets were back on track after a big bounce back win against the rival Phillies on Wednesday but without a win on Thursday afternoon the late inning collapse in game one of the series would not soon be forgotten.

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Taking the mound for New York with the daunting task of helping Met fans and players forget the game one meltdown was Oliver Perez (6-6). Tied for second in the NL for walks allowed with 63 Perez was determined to make sure that if he got beat it would be by the Phillies bats and not by his inability to find the strike zone. Oliver would go 7.2 strong innings allowing one earned run, on six hits, racking up 12 strikeouts(most since he struck out 14 in 2004 vs. the Astros when he played for the Pirates), while only walking one (an intentional walk to Burrell in the 8th). Despite his masterful outing Perez would not be in a position to get the win when it was all said and done due to a similar outing by the 45 year old Jaimee Moyer (9-6) who allowed one run and two hits in seven innings, striking out six and walking three. The Mets struck first in the third when a Jose Reyes walk and subsequent steal of second was follwed by a walk to Nick Evans and a line drive RBI single to left by David Wright scoring Reyes from second. For awhile it seemed as though that one run would be enough to carry the Mets to victory but a Jayson Werth solo bomb to center off an Oliver Perez fastball in the 7th tied the game up and sucked the collective air out of the fans at Shea. Those same fans would be on the edge of their seat the next time Werth came up to the plate one inning later. In the top of the 8th after an Eric Bruntlett double, an intentional walk to Burrell, and a hit-by-pitch to Howard, Jayson Werth would step to the plate with the bases loaded and two outs. Aaron Heilman (1-3) would come in to relieve Perez and face Werth who he got to fly out to fairly deep center to keep the game tied at one going into the bottom of the eighth. That would turn out to be a huge out for Heilman and the Mets as it would be in the bottom half of that same eighth inning when Carlos Delgado would come up with perhaps his biggest hit of the year to date when he doubled to the left corner scoring Robinson Cancel,who led off the inning with a single, and David Wright who was intentially walked. Although Delgado would be thrown out at third trying to stretch out a double the two runs would cross the plate and be more than enough cushion for Billy Wagner who would pick up his 26th save of the season and have Met fans feeling that all is well in Flushing for the time being. The Mets (55-47) now have soul posession of first place in the NL East for the first time since April 19th heading into their weekend series against the Cardinals (57-47).


Probable Starters for Upcoming Series vs. Cardinals

NYM- Mike Pelfrey (8-6) 3.81 ERA v. STL-Mitchell Boggs (3-1) 6.59 ERA

NYM- Brandon Knight (0-0) v. STL- Joel Pineiro (3-4) 4.52 ERA

NYM- Johan Santana (8-7) 3.05 ERA v. STL- Kyle Lohse (12-2) 3.35 ERA


By Wesley Scarbrough
New York Mets Correspondent

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