Climb From Cellar Could Start in New York City

The Phillies once again are coming off of a weekend that saw them fall further from the top of the NL East lead after losing two of three to a divisional foe. The Marlins took two of three from the Phils and Pat Burrell and the gang look to get back on track when they travel to Shea to take on the only team more inconsistent thnn themselves, the Mets. Against some tough pitching Philadelphia's hitters will need to come up huge in this one.

What an ugly weekend it was for the Phillies. Between the never-ending rain delays of Saturday night, the back spasms of the power hitting first basemen and shaky pitching against the Fish, this weekend was one the Phillies hope to soon forget. They'll get their chance when they make the trip north to take on the New York Mets.

Like the Phillies, New York is coming off of a rough series against a divisional foe. The Nationals won the series against the Metropolitans behind solid pitching and timely hitting from the likes of Jose Guillen, Terrmel Sledge and Brian Schneider. The Mets struggled to light up the scoreboard and their fielding left something to be desired as well, but a return home to the big apple may be just what the doctor ordered.

In the first game, Jon Lieber (4-1) will again be going for his fifth win on the season, against Pedro Martinez (2-1). Martinez isn't quite what he used to be but has still managed to record a 2.75 ERA. Lieber should be able to capitalize on the inconsistency of the Mets lineup and tally his fifth win of the season in this match up. For this to be possible however, the Phillies will need to get into Martinez's head early on and get a lead on him by the third inning. This game would be the perfect chance for this club to start generating some momentum for itself.

In game two on Tuesday night, Brett Myers (1-1) will be opposed by Tom Glavine (1-3). Myers has pitched brilliantly to start the year, notching a 1.35 ERA, but simply has not had the run support to get him more then a single win. A date with Tom Glavine might be the perfect ingredient to accomplishing that task. Glavine's 5.67 ERA has to have the Phillies salivating, but it remains to be seen if they can capitalize on his early struggles.

Wednesday will find Randy Wolf (1-3) against Jae Seo (1-1) in a tale of two pitchers headed in opposite directions. Wolf, the former all-star has struggled with his command to begin the season and his ERA stands at 6.52. Seo on the other hand looks to be improving with each start and has an ERA currently standing at 1.35. Wolf has faced tough times in the early part of this season and needs to find a way to put together a solid game if Philadelphia has any chance at winning this one.

The Phils and Mets wrap up their four-game set with an afternoon game Thursday. Vicente Padilla (0-3) will look to turn his season around after a decent outing against the Marlins Saturday night. Padilla regaining his form would be a huge boost to the Phillies rotation. By the same token, if he stumbles again, his spot in the rotation could be further called into question.

Jim Thome might sit out at least one game and maybe even more of this series with back spasms, which means that Bobby Abreu and Pat Burrell have to make the most of every opportunity. Thome hasn't played up to his capabilities to open this season and maybe some time off is just what the doctor ordered, not only for his injury, but for him to get it turned around. Thome has struggled particularly with runners in scoring position, something Burrell has excelled in, tallying 21 RBI to date. Shea Stadium has been Pat Burrell's favorite place to hit throughout his career and It would not be surprising to see him tally a few more RBI in this series. With Thome taking some much needed time off in this one, batters such as Chase Utley, Placido Polanco, David Bell and Kenny Lofton may find themselves at the plate with runners in scoring position, in situations they might not have been in, had Thome been in the lineup during this set.

Prediction: With their best two pitchers going in this series the Phillies have no excuses for not walking away from this series with two wins. The offense should heat up behind Burrell, and may hit double digits against Glavine. The Mets may find themselves in the cellar of the National League East following this series, if only for a day.

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