New York Mets (16-13) at Phillies (14-16), 7:05 p.m. on PHL 17
The Phillies suffered yet another frustrating, late-inning loss on Monday night. They had runners on first and second with no outs in both the seventh and eighth innings but couldnt score, and with two outs in the ninth Jonathan Papelbon allowed a double then a three-run homer as the Mets went on to win, 5-2.
It was the Phillies sixth loss this season when they entered the eighth inning either tied or with a lead. A record two games under .500 with Chase Utley and Ryan Howard out is OK, but you cant ignore a chain of deflating losses.
Joe Blanton is charged with the task of avoiding the Phillies fifth series loss of the season and second to the Mets. Blanton, 3-3 with a 2.83 ERA, is coming off of his best start as a Phillie.
On Thursday in Atlanta, it took Blanton 88 pitches for his first complete game and shutout of his Phillies career. The start before that, Blanton allowed two runs over 7 13 innings, walking none and striking out eight.
Blanton has the lowest walk rate of any major-league pitcher. Hes issued free passes to just three batters in 35 innings this season.
He is opposed Tuesday by 41-year-old journeyman Miguel Batista, who was forced into starting duty when Mike Pelfrey went down for the season with an elbow injury. Batista has pitched for 12 different teams over 20 major league seasons. Hes also written a book of Spanish poetry and a murder novel.
Batista is almost exclusively fastball-cutter. His heater averages 90-92 miles per hour and his cutter checks in at about 86. Last season he threw one of those two pitches 97 percent of the time.
The Phillies are 52-42 (.553) against the Mets since 2007 but have lost six of the last eight meetings.
Blanton is 3-1 with a 3.50 ERA in nine starts against the Mets. Five of those nine starts were great (0.99 ERA in 36 13 innings), three were poor (9.18 ERA in 16 23 innings) and one was a brief two-inning start last September as Blanton was getting back into pitching shape.
Current Mets are batting .225 off Blanton, though Ike Davis has gotten to him a little bit, going 5 for 11 with two doubles.
Batistas career numbers against the Phillies are meaningless, because hes reinvented himself many different times for many different teams in a variety of different roles. Over the last three years, hes struggled mightily with his command against the Phils, but that was as a reliever.
Batistas last start against the Phils was in 2006. Aaron Fultz pitched two scoreless innings in relief of starter Ryan Madson.
Shane Victorino had two hits Monday night and has a hit in eight straight after piecing together a 10-game hitting streak earlier in the season. His season numbers arent eye-popping at .254.305.418, but Victorino has reached base safely in 26 of 30 games.
Jimmy Rollins has looked much better as a leadoff man than he did in the three-hole over the first month. Rollins has seen 39 pitches in his last 10 plate appearances, which is almost one full pitch more per plate appearance than his career average.
- The Phillies were 21-9 through 30 games last season and didnt lose their fifth series until June 1. This team has less available talent, less bullpen depth and, simply put, less luck.
If the Phillies lose Tuesday night theyll fall to three games under .500, which was where they bottomed out in Arizona before winning three of the next four.
- The Phils have no business not getting to Batista. He is the stop-gappiest of all stop-gap solutions and likely wont head into the All-Star break as the Mets fifth starter. Batista allowed seven Astros to reach base over 2 23 innings in his first start.
Expect to see Laynce Nix and Pete Orr in the lineup Tuesday.
Are you concerned about the Phillies 1-4 record in one-run games and 0-4 mark in extra-inning games, or confident that it will even out as the season progresses?
E-mail Corey Seidman at email@example.com