Phillies-Mets: 5 things you need to know

Phillies-Mets: 5 things you need to know
August 8, 2014, 2:00 pm
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Phillies (52-63) vs. Mets (54-61)
7:05 p.m. on CSN

After completing a three-game sweep over the Houston Astros in dramatic and grand fashion, the Phillies continue their homestand with a four-gamer against the New York Mets.

It's the final time this season the Mets will visit Citizens Bank Park.

Here are five things you need to know about Friday's contest:

Howard on fire
Ryan Howard went 1 for 25 on the Phillies' recent road trip to New York and Washington, but came home and destroyed the Astros this week.

Howard went 5 for 14 in the series with a two-run double, a solo homer and a grand slam. He drove in eight of the Phillies' 18 runs in the sweep. Howard is now on pace for exactly 25 home runs and exactly 100 RBIs.

The most impressive -- and strangest -- recent development for Howard has been his success against left-handed pitchers. After hitting .173 against lefties in 2012-13, Howard has hit .238 against them this season with a .505 slugging percentage.

Only four left-handed hitters have a higher slugging percentage against lefties: Brian McCann, David Ortiz, Anthony Rizzo and Brandon Crawford.

And Howard's eight homers vs. lefties ranks second among all left-handed hitters to David Ortiz, who has nine.

Watch your mouth
A.J. Burnett will try to keep his emotions in check in this start, his first since being ejected after recording just five outs in Washington last Saturday.

Burnett has been blasted over his last two outings, allowing 12 runs (eight earned) and 15 baserunners in 6 2/3 innings.

It's been such an up-and-down season for the 37-year-old right-hander. Burnett's allowed at least five runs in eight different starts. He's allowed two runs or fewer 10 times, though just four times over his last 17 outings. The Phillies have lost seven of his last eight starts.

The two Mets who have seen Burnett the most are David Wright and Curtis Granderson, and they're a combined 6 for 45 (.133) with no homers and 17 strikeouts.

Third time's the charm?
The Phillies have been shut down by 41-year-old Bartolo Colon twice this season. On June 2 at CBP, he limited them to two runs on six hits over seven innings. Then on June 28, also against Burnett, Colon scattered 10 hits over 7 2/3 innings, surrendering just one run.

This has to be the game the Phillies break out against him, right? Colon has middling stuff. He throws his 88-90 mph fastball a lot and he's always around the plate.

Colon is 10-9 on the year with a 4.12 ERA and an impressive 1.18 WHIP, which is that low because he's walked just 20 batters in 146 1/3 innings.

Howard is 2 for 8 lifetime against Colon with a pair of homers. Carlos Ruiz, Marlon Byrd and Ben Revere are a combined 10 for 25.

Chooch on track
In 10 games since returning from a concussion, Carlos Ruiz has hit .317 with five doubles. One of those doubles started the eighth inning Thursday night when Ruiz greeted hard-throwing righty Josh Fields with a scorcher off the left-field wall.

Only three major-league catchers have more than Ruiz's 20 doubles -- Jonathan Lucroy with 38, and Kurt Suzuki and Yan Gomes with 20.

Suzuki has 47 more plate appearances than Ruiz, Gomes has 63 more and Lucroy has 143 more.

Wright & Murphy
Wright is having a very pedestrian season, hitting .269/.326/.384 with eight homers and 54 RBIs.

It's been 13 games since his last multi-hit effort and 23 games since his last home run.

Wright's .711 OPS puts him in the same range as Dustin Ackley and Howie Kendrick.

Meanwhile, Daniel Murphy just keeps churning out hits. He's batting .305 with an NL-high 142 hits, and they haven't been all singles. Murphy has 32 doubles, two triples and nine homers.

It's not as if Murphy compiled his stats in one month, either. By month, he's hit .304, .293, .313, .280 and .423.

And to the surprise of no one, he's reached base against the Phillies at a .406 clip in 2014.

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