Even though third baseman David Wright was cleared to start baseball activity “as tolerated,” he wasn’t in the lineup for the third straight game, and a trip to the disabled list is seeming more and more possible. So, R.A. Dickey came in to face off against Cliff Lee of the Phillies, and before Dickey even took the mound, he got a nice cushion from the offense, and it came from someone you would have never guessed.
Manager Terry Collins has been pleased with his team’s approach at the plate thus far this season, but urged them to be more aggressive earlier in the count, especially against someone like Lee, who pounds the strike zone at-bat after at-bat. So, Ruben Tejada and Daniel Murphy led off the game with back-to-back doubles, putting the Mets ahead 1-0. Then came Jason Bay; Lee fell behind the struggling outfielder 2-1, then Bay crushed the southpaw’s offering over the right-center field wall, putting the Mets up 3-0 before they even took the field. After the Phillies pushed a run across in the bottom of the third, Scott Hairston hit his first home run of the year in the fifth inning off of Cliff Lee. Lucas Duda added some insurance in the ninth with a sacrifice fly, and Frank Francisco came in to shut the door, improving the Mets to 5-2 on the season.
R.A. Dickey was once again, fantastic; the knuckleballer threw his 14th straight quality start, dating back to last season, registering 7 innings pitched, one run, one walk, nine hits, and seven strikeouts. Bobby Parnell pitched a scoreless eighth, and Francisco gave up an unearned run in the ninth on a Murphy error.
The biggest story for the Phillies is that they continue to struggle offensively; even though they recorded 11 hits as a team, only two runs were scored, and they went 0-8 with runners in scoring position, which set up their demise last night. However, Dickey was a big part of their frustrations. Dating back to last May 15th, there are only five pitchers that have a lower ERA than the 2.64 that Dickey has posted, and they include: Clayton Kershaw, Justin Verlander, Jered Weaver, Roy Halladay, and Cliff Lee. That’s some pretty darn good company to be in.
It was very important for the Mets to get this series off to a good start; they have already been surprising just about everyone in the league with how they have been playing, and they don’t want this to come off as a fluke. Beating the Phillies is a tall order, especially since they took 11 of 18 games last year against New York, including six of nine in Philly. So, being able to get a win last night against one of the most effective pitchers in the league is a huge morale boost for this team, continuing to build that momentum.
Even though last night was a quality win by the team, there are still some areas of concern. Outside of his ninth inning sacrifice fly, Lucas Duda went hitless again and is 0 for his last 14, Ike Davis didn’t get a hit, continuing his season long struggles, and the lineup may have to try to carry the load for at least another week and a half if Wright ends up on the disabled list. So, there are still some questions that need to be answered, especially the roster question that includes their franchise player. Either way, the Mets played very well as a team, once again, and will look to build on that tomorrow afternoon.
Probable Pitchers today:
Jonathon Niese will take the mound against Vance Worley and the Phillies at 4:05pm at Citizens Bank Park as the Mets are looking to get a series win in Philadelphia locked up before Cole Hamels takes the mound on Sunday.