By: Stache Staff

Pregame: New York Mets (59-69) at Philadelphia Phillies (61-67)


The Mets take a TWO-GAME WINNING STREAK on the road with them as they begin their last big road trip of the season, a nine-gamer tonight at Citizens Bank Park against the rival Philadelphia Phillies. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. and the game can be seen on SNY or heard, as always, on WFAN 660AM. Join the conversation on Twitter by following @dailystache or yours truly, @DevOnSports.

New York salvaged a decent finish to their stay at home by taking two straight games over the weekend against the Astros, still they finished the homestand 2-5 and are now 30-35 at home. Perhaps they’ll have more luck on the road, though their season record in away games is also five below .500 (29-34). They’ll be looking for their 30th road win and 60th overall this season against Vance Worley and the Phillies.

The Mets haven’t seen Philadelphia since July 5 when they defeated the Phillies on a David Wright walkoff single. They took 2-of-3 in that series and have taken 8-of-12 from Philadelphia overall entering this week’s three-game set.

But much has changed for both teams in the last seven weeks. The Phillies got both Chase Utley and Ryan Howard back from injury in July, but shipped off Shane Victorino, Hunter Pence and Joe Blanton in trades to the NL West. With Carlos Ruiz out with an injury tonight’s Phillies lineup has just one player — Jimmy Rollins — in common with the one Philadelphia fielded on July 5.

The Mets lineup, in-turn, has five players in common with the one they fielded against Philly seven weeks ago. Problem is they’re all slumping and have been for a while. For that reason, after moving to 45-38 with that win on July 5, the Mets have spiraled to a 14-31 record since. Tonight they’ll send Chris Young out looking to make that record a little less ugly.

Mets Lineup:

Tejada – Murphy – Wright – Davis – Duda – Shoppach – Baxter – Torres – Young

Small Sample Stache: David Wright has a .295/.354/.547 with 16 homers in 278 career at-bats at Citizens Bank Park, his most at any road park in the league. He hit .455/.478/.727 in five games there earlier this season. Maybe the hitter’s haven can get him going.

Phillies Lineup:

Rollins – Frandsen – Utley – Howard – Mayberry – Brown – Nix – Kratz – Worley

Small Sample Stache: Mayberry has just 98 career RBI, but 16 of them have come against the Mets.

Pitching Matchup:
NYM: Chris Young (3-7, 4.33 ERA, 1.36 WHIP, 55 K) – Young enters tonight’s game coming off his best back-to-back starts of the season. Last Tuesday against the Rockies he carried a perfect game into the sixth and despite a hiccup in that sixth, went seven innings and allowed just two earned runs on five hits and a walk while striking out nine. Most impressive were those nine strikeouts. Young isn’t typically a swing and miss pitcher, but he had the Rockies fooled all night. If the Mets can get more starts of that nature out of Young, they’ll be in better shape to finish the season.

Young pitched pretty well in his last start against the Phillies too, allowing just three runs on five hits in seven innings. His problem that day was fatigue and after tossing six shutout innings he was bit by the long ball in the seventh when Utley and Ruiz both took him deep. The Philadelphia offense got going from there and they cruised to a 9-2 win, their only one of that series. That start was the beginning of a very inconsistent pattern of outings for Young, but his last two indicate that perhaps he’s figured it out.

PHI: Vance Worley (6-9, 4.06 ERA, 1.49 WHIP, 103 K) – Worley enters tonight’s game come off a string of pretty mediocre starts. After tossing seven solid innings in Washington on the first of August, Worley has allowed at least four earned runs in three of his last four starts and hasn’t made it out of the sixth since. Worley is about the same pitcher every time he takes the ball. He won’t strike out a lot of guys and he relies on the flyball, which can be a recipe for disaster at his home park.  He’s 2-5 with a 5.00 ERA at Citizens Bank this season and batters are hitting .302 against him there.

His last start against the Mets was July 3 at Citi Field and they rocked him for six runs on 10 hits in just four innings on the way to an 11-1 win. His other start against them was April 14 at CBP when he allowed four runs in six innings in a 5-0 loss. Both Lucas Duda and David Wright took Worley deep that day and Duda is 4-for-8 lifetime against him. Daniel Murphy is an even better 7-for-12 against Worley.

Stache Keys to the Game:

It’s a Hitters Park – The Mets aren’t going to get by in this series with dominant starting pitching and a few runs. Even though the bottom of their lineup looks weak, the Phillies score runs and the Mets will have to keep up.

Tablesetters – I like the lineup that Terry Collins sent out today and if everybody does their job, it has potential for success. But that means that Tejada and Murphy need to get on base ahead of guys like Wright, Davis and Duda. That’s where big innings come from at Citizens Bank.

Pen Wars – When the game gets into the late innings, it will turn into a battle of futility between two of the worst bullpens in baseball, whoever is the least terrible should win the game.

This Date in Mets History:
On August 28, 1984, the Mets made a minor waiver trade that had a major impact when they sent three players to Houston for Ray Knight. Two years removed from an All-Star season, Knight was scuffling for the Astros, hitting just .223 with a .259 OBP in 88 games. They gave up on him, sending Knight to the Mets for three low-level prospects. Knight was good in his month as a Met in ’84, but scuffled again in ’85. However, he reinvented himself in 1986, winning Comeback Player of the Year and was a key cog in the World Series run, capping it with a World Series MVP award.

On this date in 1989, fans at Dodger Stadium were in for a treat as reigning Cy Young winners dueled for the first time in Major League history. The matchup lived up to the billing as 1988 AL Cy Young winner Frank Viola twirled nine innings of three-hit ball to outpitch NL Cy Young winner Orel Hershiser in a 1-0 Mets win. New York’s only run in Hershiser’s eight solid innings came when Howard Johnson drove in Gregg Jeffries with a third inning RBI single.

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