Tonight’s game on Five includes the Phillies for the third time in four weeks, but that’s certainly not a complaint.Â They are firmly in the race for the NL East and it’s the Mets who they are fighting for a place in the play-offs, so this should be a great contest.Â Five’s coverage begins at 00.50 with first pitch set for fifteen minutes later.
The series so far
This is the third of a three-game series, although at time of writing only the first game has been played.Â Brett Myers dominated the Mets’ batting lineup on Friday night, striking out ten while throwing eight shutout frames.Â His counterpart Mike Pelfrey had a good outing as well, but the three runs he conceded (including a two-run homer by Greg Dobbs) were all the Phillies needed to win the game 3-0.Â Yesterday’s scheduled game was postponed due to rain, courtesy of Tropical Storm Hanna, so Jamie Moyer and Pedro Martinez will have to wait until 19.15 (BST) today before they finally take to the mound.Â Should the Phillies prevail, a victory in the second game of this double-header wouldÂ bring themÂ level with the MetsÂ at the top of the NL East.
Pitching match-ups don’t get much better than this: Cole Hamels against Johan Santana.Â Both are famed for having excellent change-ups and don’t be surprised if there are a lot of batters being made to look silly tonight.
Cole Hamels(12-8, 3.01 ERA) – Hamels pitched on Five three weeks agoÂ against the Padres.Â He put in a typical ‘Ace’ performance,Â giving up just one run overÂ eight innings to lead the Phils to a 2-1 victory despite not having his best stuff.Â HamelsÂ has aÂ 2-0 record inÂ his three starts since that point, pitching seven innings each time out while conceding three runs combined over the three games.Â He shutout the Nationals over seven and a third innings on Tuesday to lower his season ERA to 3.01.Â At just twenty-four years old, Hamels is only at the beginning of what could be an excellent pitching career.
Johan Santana(12-7, 2.71 ERA) – Having joined the Mets over the off-season toÂ great fanfareÂ before signing a lucrative six year/$137.5m contract, it seems like anything other than a twenty plus win season and an ERA underÂ 2.50 would have amounted to a disappointing season for Santana.Â Consequently his first year in a Mets uniform has gone under the radar somewhat, but don’t let the sky-high expectations cloud your judgement.Â Consider this: Santana went through a six game stretchÂ between 6 June and 4 July when he was saddled with an 0-4 record and the Mets lost all six of his starts.Â Even during this period, Santana had an ERA of 2.48 and limited opponents to a .232/.291/.305 batting line.Â The Mets’ bullpen hasn’t been kind to him and he could quite easily be sat here today with five or six more wins.Â
Things to look out for:
- Plenty of comments about Shea Stadium-Â After tonight’s game, there will be justÂ twelve more regular season games played at Shea before the Mets move to their new Citi Field ballpark for the 2009 season.Â Â
- The Phillies outfield arms– no team in the Majors has more outfield assists than the Phillies’ 34Â this season.Â Twelve of these have been by Pat Burrell, suggesting that teams have been taking a few too many liberties against a player generally considered to be something ofÂ a liability in the field.