Mets-Phillies NL East Race Heating Up

John LewisSenior Writer IJuly 21, 2008

Don't look now but the streaking New York Mets have not only climbed back into the National League East pennant race, but have forged a tie with the Philadelphia Phillies.

The slumping Phillies now have a three game set with the Mets starting Tuesday with first place on the line.  Philadelphia has been fading fast as they have lost 20 of their last 34 games.

Their offense hasn't been much better during this time either and their late inning loss to the Florida Marlins Sunday night now puts a team with three MVP candidates on the ropes in the NL.  This is a place the Phillies have been familiar with in the past, but with last season's heroics and this season's good start, the Phils were hoping their offense would slow down any slump.

Manager Charlie Manuel is left shaking his head and wondering if the team is trying to hard to win the division with so many games left, or just forgot to come back after the All-Star break.

For the Mets, it's been a tale of two teams.

Basically left for dead a month ago, they have found their winning ways and reeled off a 10 game winning streak and are 13-4 in the month of July.

One key contributor, Carlos Delgado, has found his stroke of late and is hitting .419 with 15 runs, four HRs and 12 RBI.  And the table-setter, Jose Reyes is hitting like his old self with a .338 batting average, 11 runs and nine RBI.

Now the Mets just look to get healthy as Pedro Martinez is saying he is feeling great as he looks to return later in the week and Billy Wagner is day-to-day with a left shoulder injury.

The Mets seem to have control of their own destiny as their next nine games are all against teams with winning records.  They have a three game series against the Phillies, then a three game set against the St. Louis Cardinals, and then three on the road against the Florida Marlins.

Philadelphia has a little easier schedule to end the month with a three game series at New York, three at home against the Atlanta Braves, and three at the Washington Nationals.  Either way, this series should be huge for both teams.