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Phinishing them off?

First just a quick note--
You may see a changed layout here at Crosstown Rivals. This is not all that has changed, as we will also be adopting new formats in series previews and game recaps here. The series previews will be abbreviated in favor of longer game recaps and general interest articles. This is the first such preview.

  • Mets:After romping in the desert and shutting up the Hollywood √©lites, the Mets will now face the Phillies to conclude their road trip. The Mets have the best record in the NL, and the second best in baseball behind Jim Leyland's Tigers. They've nice leads against the rest of the division, including the all-important ten game lead against the Braves. A sweep here, or even two out of three, though, would certainly help the Mets in securing division victory.

  • Philly pitching is currently plagued by a dearth of capable guys, especially men to set up Tom Gordon. Veteran ace Jon Lieber went down with an injury this year after a sour start and phenom Cole Hamels (1-1, 3.68 ERA) returned only recently from the DL. Changeup artist Ryan Madson (6-3, 5.71 ERA), he of the seven-inning relief stint against the Mets, was forced into the rotation to replace pounded prospect Gavin Floyd (4-3, 7.29 ERA). Callup Eude Brito (0-2, 10.38 ERA), who was recently promoted, was shelled in two outings and sent back down to AAA. So for now, they're going with a four-man rotation featuring ace Brett Myers (4-2, 3.44 ERA), who always seems to pitch well against the Mets, Hamels, ex-Met Cory Lidle (4-5, 4.63 ERA) and Madson. The bullpen has been led by Billy Wagner's replacement, Tom Gordon, who has a 2-2 record with a 1.61 ERA and 18 saves. Arthur Rhodes (3.63 ERA in 25 games) and Ryan Franklin (1-4, 4.71 ERA in 28 games) comprise a double-barreled setup corps. The rest of the bullpen has been pretty good, with lefty specialist Rheal Cormier's 1.25 ERA, versatile righty Geoff Geary's 4-0 record and 2.86 ERA and long man Aaron Fultz's 3.41 ERA. The bullpen also features the inexperienced Clay Condrey and Brian Sanches.

  • Philly hitting is a mix of both good and bad. Thumping first baseman Ryan Howard came out of his early season power slump and is now near the top of the NL with 22 HR and 54 RBI. He's also hitting .294. Although second baseman Chase Utley has seen his average drop more than twenty points in the last ten days, he's still producing well, hitting .303 with 12 HR and 40 RBI. He always seems to pose problems to the Mets. Jimmy Rollins, whose season began with so much promise on the wings of a hitting streak, has been a drag on the Phillies offense, where he is posting a measly .253/.308/.389 line, despite his recent hot streak. David Bell has also been something of a disappointment, posting a .259 average with a small 4 HR and 24 RBI despite being in a great hitter's park. Starting catcher Mike Lieberthal is on the DL, requiring Sal Fasano to play everyday. He's only batting .253. The outfield, typically a strong one, has been a beneficiary of Pat Burrell's production (16 HR, 47 RBI) despite a .259 average. Aaron Rowand, of the great catch in centerfield, has been pretty good, hitting .290, though he was admirably spelled by Shane Victorino's .327 BA and sheer speed. Bobby Abreu has been his usual on-base machine self in rightfield, posting a .455 OBP while batting .288. He's been a disappointment power-wise, though, hitting only 7 HR at this point in the season. He's driven in 46 runs. Outfield super-sub David Dellucci, acquired earlier in the season from the Rangers, has not produced that much, hitting only .254.

    Game 1: Tuesday, 7:05
    Tom Glavine, LHP (9-2, 3.06 ERA) @ Ryan Madson, RHP (6-3, 5.71 ERA)
    Edge: Glavine

    Game 2: Wednesday, 7:05 (National TV: ESPN)
    Orlando Hernandez, RHP (4-5, 5.48 ERA) @ Brett Myers, RHP (4-2, 3.44 ERA)
    Edge: Myers

    Game 3: Thursday, 1:05
    Steve Trachsel, RHP (3-4, 4.70 ERA) @ Cory Lidle, RHP (4-5, 4.68 ERA)
    Edge: Push

    Players to Watch for:
    PHI: Chase Utley. I can't pick Burrell any more to massacre the Mets because it's starting to lack originality. He has a .289 career BA against the Mets, though, with 7 HR. That's his greatest total against any team.

    NYM: Carlos Beltran. Let's keep that crazy train rolling, B-Man!

    Player of the Series: Carlos Beltran

    Picks: Two of three from the Mets, despite another shaky outing from Trachsel, who pitches like Trash, not like Trach.

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