August 1st, 2011
by Andrew Rizzi

The Mets and Marlins seem to play every other series these days, and the two teams start another 3 game set Monday night at Citi Field. Coming off an impressive 6-4 road trip that ended on a low note with 2 straight losses to Washington, the Amazins now come home, where they have struggled all season. While they have been great on the road, the Mets have the least amount of home wins (22) of any of the 16 teams that are over the .500 mark.

This is the first home stand since the Carlos Beltran trade, so it will be interesting to see how the crowds are. I will be there Monday for the opener, and will be fired up as always, but I am not sure how the casual fan will feel after the team traded away it’s #3 hitter.

Even without Beltran though the Mets have played well overall. Daniel Murphy and David Wright have been on fire. Lucas Duda has filled in nicely in right field. The role players have overachieved for the most part, and the starting rotation and bullpen have both been more than adequate. Hell, even Jason Bay is hitting lately! But despite the solid season the Mets have had, their achilles heel has been their play inside the division. They are just 18-22 vs. the NL East, a number that needs to improve if the Mets want to compete for a division title in 2012. But hey, why not start that trend now?

The Metsies are 3-5 against the Marlins this year, a team they have had problems with since 2007. A series win sure would be nice this week, and a victory with yours truly in the house would be a nice start towards that goal. We have hit the month of August, and the team is (sort of) still in the playoff race. They are definitely still watchable, that’s for sure, and I am pleasantly surprised about that.

The Marlins closed out Shea Stadium in 2008 and acted like they won it all. Unfortunately they have dominated the Mets in Citi Field as well.

Pitching Matchups:

8/1/11- Mike Pelfrey (6-9, 4.55 ERA) vs. Javier Vazquez (7-9, 5.10 ERA)

8/2/11- Chris Capuano (9-10, 4.51 ERA) vs. Brad Hand (1-3, 2.73 ERA)

8/3/11- Dillon Gee (10-3, 3.69 ERA) vs. Clay Hensley (1-3, 3.09 ERA)

Marlins Player to Watch: Gaby Sanchez

First there was Chipper Jones. Then there was Pat Burrell. Now, the big Mets killer in the NL East appears to be Marlins slugger Gaby Sanchez. Though Hanley Ramirez and Mike Stanton get more national attention as feared hitters, Sanchez is the one who haunts Mets fans the most. This season alone Gaby is 11-31 (.355) with 3 homeruns and 7 RBI. But this is not just a 2011 thing. Sanchez has killed the Mets throughout his career, to the tune of a .382 batting average with 6 HR, 22 RBI, and 19 runs in just 102 at-bats. If Sanchez dominates the orange and blue in this series as well we might have to officially place him alongside Chipper and Pat the Bat.

Mets Player to Watch: Mike Pelfrey

While Gaby Sanchez kills the Mets, Mike Pelfrey GETS KILLED by the Marlins. Big Pelf earned his first career win against Florida in his Major League debut┬áback in 2006. But since then Pelfrey has had nothing but struggles against the Fish, going 0-7 with a 5.40 ERA in 14 starts. The winless streak looked like it might come to an end in Pelfrey’s last start against the Marlins on July 22, when the Mets jumped out to an early 3-0 lead. But Pelfrey couldn’t hold it, and left the game with the score tied at 4. Ronny Paulino’s sac fly in the 7th once again gave the Mets the lead and Pelf was in line for the W, but the Fish tied it right back up in the bottom of the inning. Ultimately, Pelfrey settled for a no decision in a game the Amazins won 7-6. Maybe Monday night is finally the night the hand-lickin’ hurler gets his 2nd career win against the Fish.

Rizzi’s Rant:

Maybe I am just bitter, but I really hate the Marlins. They ended our season in 2007, and they did the same thing again in 2008, beating us on the last day of the season both years. They closed out Shea Stadium with a heart-breaking defeat, then celebrated in our house like they just won the World Series, and they did it all with me in attendance.

I treat the games against Florida a lot like I treat the games against the Phillies, and unfortunately the results against the Marlins are much like those against Philly as well. The Mets are 3-5 against the Fish so far this season, and are a combined 16- 28 since the opening of Citi Field. It’s time for the Mets to turn the tables on Florida and start beating THEM UP for a change. Hopefully that starts with this series, with Mike Pelfrey on the mound. I am anything but confident that it will happen, but I can still hope, right?

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