It's Not Do or Die, But ...

Struggling offense vs. Johan Santana. That's not a great combination, but stranger things have happened.

It's only Juy 22, so there is time.

We know how quickly things can change in just a matter of weeks. The Mets held a comfortable seven-game lead over the Phillies with just 17 games to play last season, but choked away the National League East in an epic collapse. But the Mets have turned the tables on the Phillies this year. The Phillies had a 7 1/2 game lead over the Mets on June 13, but enter tonight's three-game series against the Mets at Shea Stadium in a first-place tie.

The Phillies were 41-28 (.594) on June 13 for the fourth-best record in baseball. The Mets were 32-34 (.485). But the Mets are 21-12 (.636) since for the third-best record in baseball, while the Phillies are 12-18 (.400) for the sixth-worst record in the Natonal League.

The Phillies helped the Mets get hot by losing three-straight games to them earlier this month in Philly.

Now would be a good time for the Phillies to get their act together.

"I'm excited,'' Joe Blanton said. "Maybe there will be a few butterflies, but once you get settled in, it's about competing."

"I can't think of a better team for me to come back against," Brett Myers said. I don't like them. We're not supposed to like them. Nothing against the guys on the team - they're our rivals. We like beating them; they like beating us.''

Lately, the Phillies haven't beaten much of anybody. They'd like that to change this week at Shea.


Billy Wagner's shoulder is bothering him. His availability this week remains uncertain.


Here are the pitching match ups at Shea:

Tonight at 7:10
RHP Joe Blanton (5-12, 4.96 ERA) vs. LHP Johan Santana (8-7, 3.10).

Tomorrow at 7:10 p.m.
RHP Brett Myers (3-9, 5.84) vs. RHP John Maine (8-7, 4.22)

Thursday at 12:10 p.m.
LHP Jamie Moyer (9-6, 3.90) vs. LHP Oliver Perez (6-6, 4.36).