NEW YORK (WFAN/AP) — The Phillies have opened the season on a roll, and they could improve to 4-0 for the first time since 1915 when they open a three-game series against the Mets on Tuesday night.
“As far as I’m concerned, it’s game four,” said Mets third baseman David Wright. “Going in there, it’s obviously a hostile environment. They’ve put together a great team. It’ll be a good challenge for us.”
“I do think we’re trying to change our perception,” general manager Sandy Alderson added. “But you do that with how you play. You need to be resilient. A lot of our players are new to this rivalry, so maybe they’re not as affected by how it’s played out lately.”
Mets manager Terry Collins is looking forward to the test, and likened the Phillies to the Yankees. New York split 18 meetings with Philadelphia last year.
“You knew they had that great club,” Collins said. “You got yourself up to play them. You raised your level of play a little bit higher because you wanted to show them you were as good as they are. And I think that goes with our pitching staff. I truly believe … our guys will go in and realize what a great challenge it’s going to be, and we’ll rise up for it.”
New York enters this series with some momentum, taking the last two of a three-game series at Florida capped by Sunday’s 9-2 victory.
“Games in April are as big as games in September for us,” Collins said.
Chris Young takes the mound in his Mets debut looking to put three injury-filled seasons with San Diego behind him. Shoulder inflammation limited the right-hander to four games last season, going 2-0 with a 0.90 ERA.
Young is 2-2 with a 4.50 ERA in five starts against the Phillies, and 1-1 with a 6.60 ERA in three at Philadelphia.
So far, Cliff Lee, two-time Cy Young winner Roy Halladay and Roy Oswalt have Philadelphia off to its best start since 1970 after Oswalt led the club to Sunday’s 7-3 win over Houston, completing a three-game sweep.
“Yeah, I envisioned our starting pitching every time they go out there they have a chance to throw a shutout or hold you down,” manager Charlie Manuel said. “And I think our starting pitching through the course of the season is going to be very consistent. If it is, if we can score runs like we can or should, we’re in for a real good season.”
The Phillies could be in for their best start in 96 years as Manuel gives the ball to Cole Hamels, whose 60 career wins since 2006 are the most by any Phillie in that span.
Hamels, though, has split 44 decisions over the last two years, going 12-11 with a 3.06 ERA while striking out 211 in 208 2-3 innings in 2010.
“If you take it one day at a time and do the best you can, you’ll build into something great,” Hamels told the team’s official website.
He hasn’t had much success against the Mets (2-1), going 2-8 with a 3.83 ERA. Hamels has lost four straight starts to New York despite a 3.20 ERA.
Hamels could be in line for some support Tuesday night with the Phillies batting a robust .349 with seven doubles, two homers and 21 runs in the first three games.
Ryan Howard is on a tear already, going 7 for 13 with one homer and six RBIs while driving in four Sunday. He is just a career .259 hitter against New York, but has 28 homers and 67 RBIs.
How many games will the Mets take from Philly? Make your prediction in the comments below…
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