By Aaron Schuldiner
After dropping two out of three in Atlanta this week, the third place Florida Marlins limp in to New York for a weekend series with the NL East leading Mets. Florida has lost nine of their last fourteen games, and is now six games back in the NL East, after being only a game and a half out at the all-star break.
After these same Marlins eliminated New York from postseason contention on the final day of the ’07 regular season, you can bet the Mets would love to deliver the knockout blow to Florida here in 2008. Although the Marlins are still alive in the divisional race, at least mathematically, and they do still have six games with New York and six games with Philadelphia, a losing series in New York this weekend would signify a full tailspin from which the Marlins would be unlikely to recover.
The Mets will send Oliver Perez (9-7) to the hill tonight to oppose Florida’s towering young righty, Chris Volstad (4-3). Perez last faced the Marlins on August 8th, when he tossed seven shutout innings en route to his eighth win of the season. Saturday night, the Mets send Mike Pelfrey (13-8) to oppose Ricky Nolasco (13-7). Pedro Martinez (4-3) is slated to face Florida lefthander Scott Olsen (6-8) in Sunday afternoon’s series finale.
Philadelphia blew a golden opportunity to pull into a first-place tie with the Mets Thursday night, thanks to the late heroics of Aramis Ramirez. With the Cubs trailing the Phillies 4-2 in the bottom of the eighth inning, Ramirez drilled a grand slam off Philadelphia righthander Chad Durbin to propel the Cubs to a 6-4 victory.
- Keep an eye on Florida second baseman Dan Uggla in this series. After a sensational first half and an All-Star Game appearance that Uggla would like to forget, Uggla went in the tank, hitting just .217 over the last four weeks. Over the same period, he has just two homeruns and six RBI, and somehow managed to strike out a whopping 24 times. However, Uggla showed signs of life in the Braves series, batting .400 (4-10) with two doubles, a homerun, and two runs batted in. The Marlins are a completely different team when Uggla is swinging the bat well, and it appears he may have one more hot streak left in him this year.
- Earlier this week, the New York Daily News reported that manager Jerry Manuel has enough faith in Ryan Church’s health to have returned him to everyday status in right field. Since returning last week from concussion-related issues, Church is batting .300 (6-20) with two multi-hit games.
- During the SNY broadcast of New York’s 6-3 comeback win over the Phillies Wednesday night, the Mets broadcast team mentioned Carlos Delgado’s name during an NL MVP conversation, and they were only half kidding. In what has probably been the greatest resurrection I’ve ever witnessed in Flushing, Delgado has gone from a guy who most fans wanted to be cut, to a guy who has a strong chance to be New York’s starting first baseman again in 2009. Delgado’s contract has an option worth $12 million in ’09, but his buyout is $4 million, which essentially translates to an eight million dollar salary next year is the Mets choose to retain him. If GM Omar Minaya thinks Delgado can come close to matching his 2008 numbers, chances are the Mets will open Citi Field next Spring with him as their first baseman.
- According to an interview with Sports Illustrated’s Jon Heyman on WFAN radio in New York, prized pitching prospect Jon Niese will make his Mets debut this Tuesday night in Milwaukee.
August 29, 2008
By Aaron Schuldiner