Right after the Mets defeated the Houston Astros to begin their six game win streak, I wrote about how both the Mets players and fans needed some wins, some confidence and some hope. They wound up with a 4-2 homestand, took the series in Washington and have won seven out of their last ten, putting their overall record at 11-14. As the Amazins roll into Philadelphia for the second time this month to take on the 16-8 Phillies, it’s safe to say that the team looks rejuvenated and might even be brimming with confidence. Even some of the fans are starting to feel better about the squad.
Of course, Philly could ruin everything. Last April, almost exactly around this time, the Mets visited Philadelphia in the midst of another hot streak and the took the first game of the series by pounding Kyle Kendrick. The next two games were not quite so pleasant, as Roy Hallday shut the Mets down on Saturday 10-0 before Johan Santana allowed ten runs on Sunday night, including a bases loaded walk to Jamie Moyer and a grand slam to Shane Victorino as the Amazins went on to lose 11-5. This series, the Mets get Vance Worley in the opener before facing Hallday on Saturday and Cliff Lee on Sunday. Before Met fans begin to groan at the thought of facing two of the best pitchers in baseball on back to back days, I’d like everyone to remember the movie Little Giants.
There is a scene in Little Giants where the title team is moping at halftime, trailing the bigger, stronger Cowboys by a hefty margin. It’s then that Rick Moranis rallies the troops by mentioning the one time he beat his brother in a bike race, and inspires the team to believe that just it just takes “one time” to beat the heavily favored opponent. Naturally, the Little Giants go on to victory, and there is no reason the Mets can’t do the same against Hallday and Lee (I’m not overlooking Worley who has pitched well in the minors and during his brief stint in the majors last season, but Hallday and Lee are in a class of their own).
I’ll start with the reigning Cy Young winner, Doc Hallday, who is off to another great start this season. In 37.1 innings, he’s allowed just 32 hits and six walks while striking out 39 (an incredible K/BB of 6.5). Last season against New York, he was 4-0, yielding just nine earned runs on twenty-four hits and two walks with 28 strikeouts. But the Doctor is not invincible. In one of his starts against the Mets last year, he gave up nine hits and five runs in seven innings, including two first inning runs, and might’ve had more success had R.A. Dickey had a better knuckleball that day.
Later in the season, the Mets got four runs and eight hits off Hallday in seven and two-thirds, including a three run inning, but the Phillies roughed up Jenrry Mejia that day and went on to win. In those two starts though, Hallday’s ERA vs. the Mets is 5.52. Yes the sample size is small, but the Mets last year proved they could get to Hallday. Even this season, Hallady has already been roughed up once, allowing six runs on ten hits to the Milwaukee Brewers.
Lee has only faced the Mets once, but it went pretty well for the southpaw. Back in ’09, he tossed seven innings against the Amazins in his first go-round with the Phils, giving up two unearned runs on six hits while striking out five. Lee’s year so far has been interesting. He’s 2-2, and has allowed 15 earned runs on 30 hits and four walks with 39 strikeouts in 32.1 innings. He turned in a three hit, twelve strikeout complete game shutout performance against the Nationals, but also surrendered six runs on ten hits in three and a third against the Braves. There is no doubt Lee is a great pitcher, but teams have gotten to him a few times so far this year-why can’t the Mets?
The point is that neither Hallday nor Lee are infallible. They each give up hits and runs, and just because the Mets haven’t beaten either one recently doesn’t mean they can’t this weekend. Sure, winning just one game would mean a .500 road trip and leave the Mets with a 12-16 record before returning home, which wouldn’t be terrible considering the team was once 5-13. However, imagine what a boost it would be if the Mets took the series, returned home 13-15, and could very possibly have a .500 record by the end of the next home stand? As I’ve said before, the fans aren’t expecting a championship season, but some competitiveness would be nice. Who knows, winning the series in Philly might get some more fans out to Citi Field. To do that, however, the Mets are going to have to beat Hallday or Lee at least one time.