SAN FRANCISCO -- Meet the Mets, greet the Mets, step right up and ... wave as the Mets pass you by in the standings?
Not too catchy, is it?
- Vince Velasquez battled command, velocity issues but kept Phillies close in loss to Giants
- Manager Gabe Kapler and his coaching staff have not helped most of the Phillies’ players improve this season | Bob Brookover
- Underwhelmed by Bryce Harper’s first season with the Phillies? His former hitting coach offers reasons to believe | Scott Lauber
When the Phillies awoke in the Bay Area on Sunday, they were in fourth place, a game behind the Mets in the National League East. It was a particularly striking place to be considering they had a seven-game lead over the Mets after an 8-3 victory in New York on July 7.
Since then, though, the Phillies were 13-14 entering the finale of a four-game series against the San Francisco Giants on Sunday evening. The Mets, meanwhile, had a 21-7 record, including a rare loss Sunday to the Washington Nationals.
But rather than dwelling on the Mets' five-week surge in the standings, Phillies manager Gabe Kapler said it's proof of how quickly circumstances can change. And with six weeks remaining in the season, he believes there's still time for the Phillies to not only hold off the Mets but go on a run of their own.
"There's so much time between now and the end of September," Kapler said. "For the first month and a half of the season, the baseball world was actively talking about the Washington Nationals having no chance to be in the postseason. They were left for dead. And then when we had our last series against the Mets, people said the same thing about the Mets. There's an ebb and a flow to this sport, and the ebbs and flows can come in six-, eight-week stretches."
Recently acquired Phillies left-hander Jason Vargas must have an interesting perspective on the Mets’ resurgence.
Vargas was with the Mets for the beginning of the hot streak before getting traded to the Phillies on July 29. Vargas had a 4.01 earned-run average but a 4.70 fielding independent pitching in 18 starts for New York, which unloaded him one day after trading for Marcus Stroman from the Toronto Blue Jays.
So, did Vargas see this coming in New York? Could he see the Phillies, whose four-game sweep of the Mets from June 24-27 at Citizens Bank Park represents their longest winning streak of the season, getting on a similar roll?
“It sounds like [the Mets] are putting together some good baseball games right now, but I think that everybody here is just really more focused on things that are going on in this clubhouse and stuff that we have to do on the field,” Vargas said the other day. “I don’t think comparing one team to another, trying to make a judgment on if there’s a winning streak ahead, is how you really want to look at things.”
Say this for the Phillies: They have had the Mets' number, winning nine of 13 games against them.
The teams play six more times: Aug. 30-Sept. 1 in Philadelphia and Sept. 6-8 in New York.
With the Chicago Cubs coming to Citizens Bank Park this week, Cole Hamels is lined up to face the Phillies on Wednesday. Aaron Nola is scheduled to pitch that night, too.
How's that for a marquee matchup?
Nola succeeded Hamels as the ace of the Phillies' staff. They actually overlapped in the rotation for about a week in July 2015, including for Hamels' memorable no-hitter against the Cubs in his final start before getting traded by the Phillies.
Hamels, who is eligible for free agency after the season, expressed interest in May in returning to the Phillies. The 35-year-old lefty and 2008 World Series MVP still owns a home in Delaware County and sends his children to Episcopal Academy.