The Two Biggest Days Of The Season

With four games remaining, the Phillies are just one game behind the New York Mets in the National League East. The first two of those four games may be the deciding ones in who wins the division.

Originally, Thursday was supposed to be a day off for the New York Mets. A rainout against St. Louis though has them playing a one-game series against the Cardinals, who come to New York from Milwaukee.

You have to figure that the Cardinals, who arrived in New York very late Wednesday night, are in no mood to play this game. They're out of contention in both the division and the wild card races and they too would have had a day off before ending their season in Pittsburgh. The bad news is that St. Louis is just 31-46 on the road this season and 1-5 against the Mets. The good news is that Albert Pujols is on a tear, hitting .455 over his last ten games.

After their makeup game with the Cards, the Mets finish the season with a series at Shea Stadium against the Marlins.

So, why are Thursday and Friday so important?

The first reason is the pitching. The Mets throw their two best pitchers - Pedro Martinez (3-0, 2.57) and Oliver Perez (15-9, 3.32) - in those games. The Cardinals counter with Joel Piniero, who has pitched pretty well of late, but certainly hasn't been in the class of Martinez and the Marlins will open with Byung-Hyun Kim (9-8, 6.11). Both pitching matchups favor the boys from New York. The matchups don't get much better over the weekend, with the Mets running John Maine (14-10, 4.07) and Tom Glavine (13-7, 4.14) against Chris Seddon (0-1, 6.89) and Dontrelle Willis, who has had a sub-par season at 10-15, 5.20.

Meanwhile, the Phillies are running rookie Kyle Kendrick out Thursday night against a solid Braves lineup and then come back with ace Cole Hamels against a Washington Nationals team that is fresh off a sweep of the Mets.

The Phillies will need strong performances out of Kendrick and Hamels and then hope for the best this weekend when they come back with free agent flop Adam Eaton and Jamie Moyer, who has been hit pretty hard of late. The biggest pitching opponent that the Phillies face is Thursday night when John Smoltz (14-7, 2.95) matches up with Kendrick. From there, the Phillies will face Tim Redding (3-5, 3.53), Matt Chico (6-9, 4.75) and Jason Bergmann (6-5, 4.33).

Meanwhile, the Padres start a four-game series in Milwaukee to wrap up the season and the Colorado Rockies, who are tied with the Phillies just one game behind San Diego, will finish the season with a final game in Los Angeles before coming home for a weekend series with the division leading Arizona Diamondbacks.

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