Facing the National League leaders is always a tough task. Facing them with only one Major League start under your belt this season? Well, that may just be too much to ask.
The first-place Phillies will kick off a three-game set against the last-place Mets on Tuesday in a battle between NL East foes.
Knuckleballer R.A. Dickey will toe the rubber for the Mets in just his third Major League start since 2008. Talk about a tough opponent to face.
But Dickey may be catching Philadelphia at the perfect time. In the Phillies' past two games -- both loses to the Red Sox -- the team has recorded only nine hits for three runs, which includes Saturday's offensive lapse in which they were one-hit by Boston's Daisuke Matsuzaka. Another knuckleballer, Tim Wakefield, tossed eight shutout innings at Philadelphia on Sunday.
And while Dickey has been in contact with Wakefield because the two are in that rare fraternity of knuckleballers, he said he won't expect immediate success against the Phillies simply because Wakefield did well. In fact, he won't even break down video of the Phillies' hitters.
"It doesn't do me much good to go in there and watch the Phillies, watch Ryan Howard's weaknesses, because he's getting a knuckleball," Dickey said. "He knows it and I know it. And it's just a matter of throwing a bunch of good ones."
The Phillies, meanwhile, need to get their offense back on track in a hurry, having hit .193 and averaged just 2.5 runs per game in their past six games.
"I really don't worry about this team offensively much," Phillies left fielder Raul Ibanez said on Sunday. "Because at any moment, everything will click and we'll explode and it'll be the same team that you guys have seen for the last few years. Obviously you'd like to be scoring runs and winning some games, but over the last few days we haven't done that. But we're really good about putting the bad days behind us and looking ahead."
Phillies: Moyer still going strong
Left-hander Jamie Moyer, who will start on Tuesday against Dickey, may have been the biggest question mark entering this season for the Phillies, but he's established himself into one of the exclamation marks of a Phillies team that holds a 3 1/2-game lead in the NL East. Moyer has been impressive all season for the Phillies, boasting a 5-3 record with a 4.30 ERA; he's 2-1 with a 2.42 ERA in his past three starts. And, maybe most impressively, Moyer has gone six or more innings in every start this season. The southpaw said he learned a lot from his struggles last season, when he went 10-9 with a 5.47 ERA before being pulled from the rotation. "Last year is over," Moyer said. "What it was, it was. You chalk it up to a learning experience. You don't know what this year is going to bring. I feel like I'm in uncharted waters. I've never been here before at 47, so I'm going to enjoy it and make the best of it. I'm going to continue to work and work hard, and it's going to get me through the season."
Mets: Mejia staying in bullpen
Mets skipper Jerry Manuel said that hard-throwing right-hander Jenrry Mejia will not be sent back to the Minors to be stretched out as a starter any time soon because he's valuable to the big club as a reliever. "You have a young man who has a tremendous arm, tremendous upside," Manuel said. "If you take what he gives you in small bits, it's very serviceable, even at the big league level." ... The Mets activated right-handed reliever Ryota Igarashi from the disabled list prior to Sunday's 6-4 win over the Yankees and put him right back into the eighth-inning setup role that he claimed prior to straining his left hamstring. Igarashi struggled immediately, however, giving up three runs on two hits in one-third of an inning. Igarashi, who had been on the DL since April 21, saw his ERA jump from 1.35 to 5.14.
With Sunday's sellout crowd, the Phillies were the first team in the Majors to surpass one million in attendance this season. It was the 65th sellout in a row at Citizens Bank Park. ... Mets outfielder Jason Bay homered twice on Sunday and reached base in all four of his plate appearances for the second straight game. He has reached in nine consecutive plate appearances, dating back to Friday.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.