Phils Head To NYC In 1st Place

So Round 2 of the heavyweight battles between the Phillies and Mets gets underway tonight at Citi Field. And the Phils head there with the lead in the National League East after a 10-7 win last night in St. Louis.

Philadelphia has the best road record in the Majors (8-2), but will face Johan Santana in the opener of the two-game series. Santana has never lost to the Phillies and holds a 1.10 ERA so far this season, not allowing more than two earned runs in any of his five starts. Meanwhile, Chan Ho Park (0-1, 8.57) maybe be getting ready for his last start after giving up seven earned runs on eight hits and six walks to the Mets last week.
The NL East is still a three-team race right now (wait to see if the Braves wan to join the fray). 
But just like last week, both the Mets and Phillies have a chance to make a statement in these two games. The Phillies have a chance to once again establish themselves as the best team in the division, while the Mets are trying to gain some momentum and get close to the top of the division.
It seems like the Mets biggest problem is same one that has hit the Phillies this spring… poor starting pitching. Outside of Santana, no Mets starter has an ERA lower than 5.20 (John Maine).
And if both teams could get their starting pitching squared away, they could run away with the division. The Phillies got a strong start from Joe Blanton on Monday, but after a good start last night, Brett Myers struggled in the middle innings against St. Louis (5.1 IP, 9 H, 5 ER) but still got the win.
Both teams have plenty of offense… much of it coming from the centerfield position. The Phils are riding several hot bats, none hotter than Shane Victorino who has a 14-game hit streak headed into New York. Victorino had four hits, three runs scored and three RBI in last nights win. In addition to his hitting streak, he has scored a run in each of his last 10 games.
Meanwhile, the Mets’ Carlos Beltran comes into tonight’s game with a 16-game hitting streak and a season batting average of .404. But as impressive is the fact that Beltran has an on-base average of .504
Ironically for both teams, it comes from the lead off spot in the batting order. The Mets’ Jose Reyes has scored just 11 runs so far this season, meanwhile the Phils’ Jimmy Rollins has been mired in a season long slump. Rollins finally has his batting average over the “Mendoza Line” at .210, having hit safely in 7 of his last 8 games.

Overall, it should be two good days of baseball in New York between the two best in the NL East.

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