There are no two ways about it- the Mets schedule gets brutally tough once they hit the road this weekend. The Rangers, Tigers, Yankees, and Phillies are all approaching, as well as the always difficult west coast swing, all before the All-Star break. With this horrendous stretch of games looming, the three game set with the Oakland A’s starting Tuesday night is enormous for the Mets. The future of the franchise could be on the line in the next 4 weeks, and how the Mets play during that time could determine whether or not Carlos Beltran, Francisco Rodriguez, Mike Pelfrey, and of course Jose Reyes are part of the team’s plans.
But while Oakland seems like the one so-called easy series the Mets encounter before the mid-summer classic, the A’s are actually red hot. They may be 7 games under .500, and sitting in last place in the AL West, but they have won 5 straight games, and other than the Twins have the longest current winning streak in baseball. Their pitching staff has been solid all year, as expected, and at 3.27 the A’s have the lowest team ERA in the American League. Of course, the flip side is that Oakland has the 2nd lowest team batting average in the AL at .239.
This is certainly a winnable series, but it will most likely be three low-scoring games that come down to which bullpen can pitch the best. Hopefully that is the Mets- the time has come for the team to take a stand and dominate a team in their home ball park. A sweep over Oakland would turn this homestand from disappointment to success, and would finally get us over .500 for the first time since the 3-2 start.
6/21/11- Dillon Gee (7-0, 2.86 ERA) vs. Josh Outman (2-1, 3/14 ERA)
6/22/11- R.A. Dickey ( 3-7, 4.00 ERA) vs. Gio Gonzalez (6-5, 2.69 ERA)
6/23/11- Chris Capuano (5-7, 4.29 ERA) vs. Graham Godfrey (1-0, 4.76 ERA)
Athletics Player to Watch: Josh Willingham
Mets fan know Josh Willingham very well from his days with the Marlins, but he memories are not good ones. In 75 games against the Amazins, Willingham is hitting at a .295 clip, more than 30 points higher than his career average. He has 46 RBI against the Mets, more than any other team, and has blasted 14 homers. Willingham is on a new team now, but don’t be surprised if he still remembers how to rake against his old doormats from his time in the NL.
Mets Player to Watch: Dillon Gee
Gee once again toes the rubber with a chance to become the first Mets pitcher to go 8-0 since Dwight Gooden in 1988. Dillon looked like he was headed for that 8-0 mark in his last start, when he was dominating Atlanta for 4 innings and had a lead, but a lengthy rain delay ended his night prematurely and cost him a victory. Tuesday night he starts the opener, and I predict that he throws the first no-hitter in Mets history. Just joking, I know the Mets will never throw a no-no. But seriously, that would be awesome if he did.