(Sports Network) – The Philadelphia Phillies may possesses one of the National League’s most potent offenses at full strength, but those bats have been ice cold whenever the team has paid a visit to New York’s Citi Field this season.
Still in search of their first run on the road against the rival Mets in 2010, the Phillies hope to finally break out in tonight’s clash between the longtime NL East foes in the Big Apple.
Philadelphia was outscored by a 16-0 margin in losing three straight times to the Mets at Citi Field from May 25-27, and failed to generate any offense once again in Friday’s opener of this three-game series. The Phillies mustered only one hit — a sixth-inning single from starting pitcher Cole Hamels — against New York’s R.A. Dickey in a frustrating 1-0 defeat.
Just five days after being rocked for six runs and eight hits in three innings during a loss to the Phillies in Philadelphia, Dickey (8-5) surrendered just Hamels’ base hit and one walk while striking out seven batters to earn his second career shutout. The knuckleball specialist continued his season-long success at Citi Field, where he’s amassed a 5-1 record and a sensational 1.22 earned run average in six starts.
“There’s a nice comfort zone here for me,” Dickey said afterward. “It’s a nice park to pitch in, the ball feels good out of my hand. I was anxious to get back at them after my last outing.”
Hamels (7-9) went the distance as well, giving up just the one run and five hits while racking up eight strikeouts in eight innings. The left-hander’s only trouble came in the bottom of the sixth, when David Wright and Carlos Beltran hit back-to-back doubles to account for the game’s only score.
“They’re happy I’m able to go out there and plug away,” Hamels said of his team. "At the same time, we have to go get them [Saturday]. I think that’s the plan of attack. You’re bummed, but let’s put this one behind us because we need to get them [Saturday].
The Phillies, who remain without their top two sluggers in first baseman Ryan Howard and second baseman Chase Utley, dropped to three games behind first- place Atlanta in the NL East standings with last night’s result. The two-time defending NL champs are one game back of San Francisco for the lead in the league’s Wild Card race.
Philadelphia shouldn’t need to score too much to have a chance to avenge last night’s setback, with ace right-hander Roy Halladay set to take the mound tonight aiming for a fifth straight winning start. The All-Star hurler bested New York with a 10-strikeout performance this past Sunday at Citizens Bank Park, although he was reached for five runs and nine hits in a seven-inning stint.
Halladay had strung together three consecutive stellar outings prior to picking up his 14th win of the year last weekend, with the 2003 American League Cy Young Award honoree yielding just two runs over a span of 24 innings during that streak. He’s amassed an excellent 2.34 ERA for the season, fourth- best in the NL, in addition to leading the majors with eight complete games.
The 33-year-old has won both his starts against the Mets this season and is 4-2 with a 4.46 ERA over six lifetime meetings with New York. This will be Halladay’s first career appearance at Citi Field.
The Mets will call up Pat Misch from Triple-A Buffalo tonight to oppose Halladay and serve as the club’s fifth starter for the time being. The left- hander has put together a strong campaign for the Bisons, having produced an 11-4 record and a 3.23 ERA in 23 International League starts.
Misch, who turns 29 on Wednesday, spent a good portion of last season with the Mets and went 3-4 with a 4.12 ERA in 22 appearances, all but seven of which came in relief. He pitched four times against the Phillies out of the bullpen in 2009 and had an 0-1 record with a 2.35 ERA over 7 2/3 innings.
The Western Michigan product did face Philadelphia twice as a starter during a previous tenure with the San Francisco Giants and is 0-1 with a 5.09 ERA in six lifetime games against the Phils.
The Mets will have their regular closer back for tonight’s tilt should they need him, with Francisco Rodriguez having finished serving a team-issued two- game suspension on Friday after being arrested for allegedly assaulting his girlfriend’s father earlier in the week.
With Friday’s verdict, New York has now won six of 10 overall matchups with the Phillies this season.