The New York Mets have beaten the Philadelphia Phillies in nine of their 14 meetings this season. Ordinarily, with a stat like that, it would be ridiculous to assume anything other than that the Mets just have Philly's number this year.
However, after a close inspection of the teams' most recent games, the most memorable being the Phillies' improbable comeback and 13th-inning victory Tuesday night to re-take the NL East lead, it is becoming increasingly evident that the Phillies have some kind of mental edge over their arch rivals.
Last season, after winning six of their first 11 against the Phillies, the Mets were swept in their final two series, the key cog in the their historic seven-game division-losing collapse. The Phillies proved Jimmy Rollins prophetic by becoming the "Team to Beat" in the East last year, and looked to carry that momentum into the 2008 season.
Although they came up short against the Mets in the first three months of the season, the Phillies, currently having won five in a row and eight of 10, appear to be surging at the right time, whereas the Mets, perpetually mired in intrasquad squabble and other New York-sized distractions, do not look like the team they were when they took the division lead after the All-Star break.
The teams finish a two-game series in Philadelphia on Wednesday night and then have three more games at Shea Stadium next week—the Phillies' final games ever at the Mets' venerable ballpark.
If the Mets, who currently trail the Phillies by a half-game in the East standings, do not want to re-live 2007's collapse, they better start finding a way to hold off the Phillies, especially when they spot Pedro Martinez a 7-0 lead after four innings.