What's Your Language?

Friday, May 27, 2011

Preview: 2011 Regular Season Game 50 - Phillies at Mets

Do they get you sick yet?
Philadelphia Phillies (31-19) at New York Mets (23-26), 7:10 p.m.

Probable Starting Pitchers: Philadelphia - Roy Oswalt (3-2, 2.77) New York - Chris Capuano (3-5, 5.36)

It's unknown if Raul Ibanez believes in the adage 'April showers bring May flowers,' but the Phillies left fielder has been taking care of business so far this month and will lead his club into Citi Field tonight for the opener of a three-game series against the rival New York Mets.

After hitting a lousy .161 in April, Ibanez is batting .337 with five homers, 15 RBI and 15 runs scored in 23 games this month. He is riding a five-game hitting streak and cracked a three-run homer in Thursday's 10-4 win over the Cincinnati Reds in the finale of a four-game series at Citizens Bank Park. Ibanez has knocked in seven runs in his last four games for the Phillies, who took three of four meetings versus the Reds and went 6-3 on a nine-game homestand.

Phillies starter Cliff Lee took some of the spotlight away from Ibanez by earning the win with eight solid innings and going 2-for-4 at the plate with three RBI. Lee, whose two-run ground-rule double in the sixth put his team ahead, allowed four runs and 10 hits with eight strikeouts and one walk to improve to 4-4 this season.

"He takes a very aggressive cut in the game," Phils manager Charlie Manuel said of Lee's hitting. "Once he learns to stay on breaking balls and changeups a little bit more, he might become a real good hitter because he has a good cut. I expect that to happen with the more experience he gets."

Michael Martinez had two RBI and Chase Utley homered for the first time since returning from a stint on the disabled list. It was Utley's first home run since Game 3 of the NLDS against the Reds on Oct. 10. The All-Star second baseman appeared in his fourth game of the season and went 2-for-14 in that span with three starts.

In other team news, fifth starter Joe Blanton will not require surgery on his injured right elbow and Vance Worley will continue to pitch in his spot until he is activated off the DL. Phillies All-Star center fielder Shane Victorino is expected to begin a rehab assignment this weekend for Class A Lakewood. He has been shelved since May 20 with a strained right hamstring and hopes to come off the disabled list late next week.

Philadelphia will also make stops in Washington and Pittsburgh on its upcoming nine-game road trip and has lost four in a row away from home. Hoping to end the road skid Friday in New York will be right-hander Roy Oswalt, who is coming off a tough loss versus Texas on Sunday in which he fired seven innings of one-run ball in a 2-0 setback. Oswalt fell to 3-2 in seven starts and was able to lower his earned run average from 3.09 to 2.77.

Oswalt is 0-2 in his last three outings after beginning the season 3-0 with a 1.88 ERA over his first four appearances. He has made 14 career starts against the Mets, going 6-5 with a 3.33 ERA in that stretch.

It seems the Mets are making more news off the field than on it. On Thursday it was announced that the club agreed to sell part of the team for $200 million to David Einhorn, president of Greenlight Capital Inc. The transaction, of course, is pending the completion of exclusive negotiations and approval by Major League Baseball owners.

"This is something of great personal interest," Einhorn said on the club's website. "I'm very excited to have this life experience. I've followed baseball all the way from my childhood, having watched hundreds or thousands of games over my life. Having an opportunity to get involved at this level is going to be a fantastic life experience for me."

New York was a subject in Bernard Madoff's Ponzi scheme that put current principal owner Fred Wilpon in bad light. Either way the production on the field has been average at best and the Mets just went 2-4 on a six-game road trip against the Yankees and Cubs, and will begin a 10-game homestand this evening versus the Phillies, Pirates and Braves.

The Mets lost two of three games in Chicago and suffered a 9-3 loss in Thursday's series finale from Wrigley Field. Starter R.A. Dickey lasted only 2 2/3 innings and scattered four hits with one strikeout before leaving with pain in his right heel and foot.

"There's the fear of the unknown," Dickey said on the team's site. "Obviously there's something going on that you can't control, nor do you have the education to be able to diagnose. You've got to just kind of be patient with it. It's frustrating. I felt like I wasn't going to give up much today."

Pedro Beato and Pat Misch weren't able to do that as both relievers allowed three earned runs apiece with Beato taking the loss. Daniel Murphy had three hits and Josh Thole drove in a run for New York, which hopes to get a boost from outfielder Angel Pagan. Pagan is expected to be activated off the disabled list and had been bothered by an oblique strain. Fernando Martinez is expected to be demoted to Triple-A Buffalo to make room for Pagan.

Chris Capuano will get the start tonight for the Mets and has lost four of his last five trips to the mound. In a 7-3 setback at Yankee Stadium last Saturday, Capuano allowed six runs and six hits in 5 1/3 innings, falling to 3-5 on the season in 10 games (8 starts) and raising his ERA to 5.36. The lefty is winless in his career against Philadelphia with an 0-2 mark in five games, four of which have been starts.

Mets reliever Francisco Rodriguez has been a lone bright spot for the Mets lately and has converted his last 15 save opportunities, the longest stretch of his career since saving 16 in a row to begin the 2009 season. The right- hander is currently riding a 19 2/3-inning scoreless streak.

The Phillies have won four of six meetings with the Mets this season -- all at Citizens Bank Park -- and are 9-5 in the previous 14 matchups.

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