By: Stache Staff

Pre-game: Mets (33-29) at Tampa Bay Rays (35-26)

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Hello and welcome to another wonderful day of Mets baseball! This evening the Amazins take on the Tampa Bay Rays in St. Petersburg, Florida for the second game of a three game series. Last night, the Mets exploded for their highest run total of the season and got a solid start from Chris Young to beat the Rays 11-2.

It’s very doubtful that things will be so easy for New York this time around. Although tonight’s starter R.A. Dickey has looked as powerful as his Darth Vader alter ego lately, the Rays have the incredible David Price on the hill to oppose him.

Meanwhile, Terry Collins’ never-say-die attitude and hard work has paid off as he’s been named a coach for the NL All-Star team by Tony La Russa.

David Wright is close to earning his own All-Star bid. He is still has the most votes at third base among NL candidates.

Mets Lineup
1. Andres Torres, CF
2. Daniel Murphy, 2B
3. David Wright, 3B
4. Scott Hairston, RF
5. Jason Bay, LF
6. Vinny Rottino, DH
7. Ike Davis, 1B
8. Mike Nickeas, C
9. Omar Quintanilla, SS

It always looks funny to see journeyman utility player Scott Hairston in the cleanup spot against lefties, but it’s beginning to make more and more sense. Hairston has 11 hits in his last 24 at-bats against lefties, including five home runs and just four strikeouts. Jason Bay hasn’t got a hit since returning from the disabled list, but he did hit a home run against David Price back in 2009.

Tampa Bay Rays Lineup
1. Desmond Jennings, LF
2. Carlos Peña, 1B
3. B.J. Upton, CF
4. Matt Joyce, RF
5. Hideki Matsui, DH
6. Sean Rodriguez, 2B
7. Jose Lobaton, C
8. Elliot Johnson, SS
9. Will Rhymes, 3B

Tampa has won eight of its last ten games in which a knuckleball pitcher has thrown against them. Although nine of those starts were made by Boston’s Tim Wakefield, one of them was made by Dickey. That was back in 2008, when R.A. pitched for Seattle in an 11-3 loss to the Rays. Of the current Rays, only Peña and Upton were in the lineup that day, and each had a base hit. It’s also kind of funny to note that Miguel Batista was one of the pitchers to relieve Dickey after he allowed eight runs in five innings.

Pitching Match-up
NYM — R.A. Dickey (2.44 ERA, 78 SO, 19 BB)

The unbelievable tale of Dickey continues. Just when you thought it couldn’t get any better, the veteran knuckleball master has managed to jack up his strikeouts per nine to 8.67 over last season’s 5.78. After his last brilliant start against Washington, Dickey now has gone 24.2 innings in a row without allowing a run. That means he only needs seven more shutout frames to equal Jerry Koosman’s club record that was set back in 1973. If he can manage to do that, Dickey will be worrying less about the Mets picking up his $5 million option for next season and more about a possible extension offer.

TB — David Price (2.40 ERA, 70 SO, 27 BB)
Just like Dickey, Price is from Tennessee. Unlike Dickey, Price throws a 96 mile-per-hour fastball and is really good at getting lefties out. Always a great pitcher, Price has only gotten better since debuting in late 2008. His FIP has dropped steadily over the past three seasons, and in the past two he’s pitched over 200 innings. This season, he’s ditched his slider and is throwing a cutter as well as more of his change-up. That’s helped Price handled right-handers better, which means he’s ever closer to reaching Cy Young status.

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