NEW YORK-- Although many believed the Mets were out of the playoff race, that may not totally be the case. Yes, it's going to be tough to overcome, but coupled with last night's Phillies loss, the Mets are now seven back in the Wild Card race.
At one point, it seemed they were forever sinking into oblivion. What could keep the Mets in a wild race that has seven teams within 7.5 games, is the way they play at home.
The Mets are now 15 games over .500 at Citi Field (37-22), and they seem to play with much more confidence at their home stadium. They did last night what they've done virtually all season at home—fight hard, comeback, and, most of the time, win.
Even Luis Castillo, the bench version of him, came through last night against his former club. Castillo is the Marlins' all-time hits leader ironically, but last night's hit for the Mets was huge. It crept them closer to the Phillies, who fell into a tie with the Giants for first in the Wild Card.
With the games dwindling, the Mets have to win of course, and especially at home. What will really decide their fate in 2010 are the games they'll play against Philadelphia. They will play the Phillies six more times, one series in each city.
Tonight, they'll try to perhaps gain some more ground, pitching Pat Misch. Originally, Mike Pelfrey was supposed to start but manager Jerry Manuel cited the length given by his starters as a reason to push everyone back.
Do you think the Mets have any shot at a playoff spot?
Therefore, Pelfrey will pitch on Friday against Houston, and Johan Santana will pitch Saturday on an extra days' rest.
Misch will make his third start for the Mets this season, and is 0-2 so far. He hasn't pitched poorly though, just has been very unfortunate.
In his first start against the Phillies, he allowed three unearned runs thanks to poor defense behind him. In his last start against the Astros on Thursday, he retired 16 straight batters at one point, before blowing up in the seventh.
After swimming along, one-hitting Houston, he gave up two singles and a three-run home run to Carlos Lee to start the seventh and end his night. It cost the Mets a chance to win three of four in the series, as they had to settle for a split.
By pitching Misch tonight, not only do the Mets give their starters extra rest, Misch won't have to face the Astros again over the weekend. Instead, his next start, barring a meltdown, will come Monday in Atlanta.
Misch threw a shutout against the Marlins late last season, so this move to pitch him tonight is a great idea by Jerry Manuel and pitching coach Dan Warthen.
The Marlins will counter with soon-to-be 22-year-old right-hander Alex Sanabia. After making some relief outings to begin his career in June, Sanabia has made five starts for Florida.
With the exception of one horrendous start against the Giants, giving up seven runs in two innings, he has pitched well. In the other four starts he's made, he has allowed one run or less.
His last start against the Pirates on Thursday was his best so far. In 7.2 innings pitched, he allowed one run on four hits, while striking out five.
What he has been able to do, which is impressive at a very young age, is keep his walks down. He has only allowed seven walks in 31 innings pitched.
After hitting Josh Johnson well last night, expect the same lineup out there tonight. The only difference may be Luis Castillo at second instead of Ruben Tejada. You'd figure Castillo would get rewarded with a start for his walk-off hit, and replace Tejada who's 1 for his last 39.
The Mets will try to hang on in the NL playoff race tonight, looking to win another home series.
Pat Misch vs. Florida (career)
1-2, 5.49 ERA, 19.2 IP, 21 hits, 7 BB, 7 SO
Alex Sanabia vs. New York (June 30- in relief)
Loss, 2 IP, 2 R, 1 ER, 3 hits, 0 BB, 2 SO
2010 season series (New York vs. Florida)
April 5: New York 7, Florida 1
April 7: Florida 7, New York 6 (10)
April 8: Florida 3, New York 1
May 13: Florida 2, New York 1
May 14: Florida 7, New York 2
May 15: Florida 7, New York 5
May 16: Florida 10, New York 8
June 4: New York 4, Florida 3
June 5: New York 6, Florida 1
June 6: New York 7, Florida 6
June 28: Florida 10, New York 3
June 29: Florida 7, New York 6
June 30: New York 6, Florida 5
August 24: New York 6, Florida 5
Marlins lead series 8-6