The Phillies come off their All-Star break this evening and kick off the second half of their season with a three-game series vs. the rival Mets, who are just one win above the .500 mark and are looking to stay alive in the NL East race despite being 11 games behind. New York will be without well-known closer Francisco "K-Rod" Rodriguez for the first time since acquiring him in 2009 after shipping him to the Brewers this week, though both teams will have respectable starters on the mound for Friday's contest.
For the visiting Phillies, reliable rookie Vance Worley (4-1, 2.20 ERA) will be on the hill, and the Phils seem to be in good position to back him up. In 10 of the 12 games Worley has pitched in, the Phillies have come away victorious, and manager Charlie Manuel only expects the club's offense to improve with stars like Chase Utley and Placido Polanco ready to go. "What do I look for in the second half?" asked Manuel. "I expect us to score more runs, especially if we can get our team back and get healthy. I felt like when [Shane] Victorino went in the five-hole for us, he started showing us some consistency, because he's a switch-hitter and he's got some power...if we can get [Polanco] well, he's a .300 hitter. We've got Utley now. I don't see any reason why we can't score more runs."
For the Mets, right-handed knuckle-baller R.A. Dickey (4-7, 3.61 ERA) will be pitching, and he's had a good deal of success against division rivals, along with the Mets, who have gone 15-5 against other NL East teams thus far in 2011. Of course, the Phillies have done even better with a 27-15 performance vs. rivals, but tonight will be a chance for one side to either solidify its position above the rest or creep closer in the down-the-stretch race for the division.