Not too long ago, there was a time where it seemed like the Mets could never beat the Phillies. After all, the Phillies were the team that beat the Mets out for the National League East title in 2007 and 2008 and won three more division titles as the Mets drifted into obscurity. In fact, the Mets were just 39-51 against the Phillies from 2007-2011. Since then, the tables have turned drastically.
The Mets have won eight of their nine games against Philadelphia this season, and are 21-7 against them dating back to last year. They have not squandered an opportunity to beat up on their beleaguered division rivals over the past two seasons and have reaped the benefits as a result.
This dominance against the Phillies is a key reason why the Mets currently find themselves in sole possession of the National League’s second Wild Card spot. Against all other teams, the Mets are 19-20 this year. Without the Phillies in their division, their record might not look the same.
The same can be said for the Fightin’ Phils. Aside from games against the Mets, the Phillies are 18-22. Excluding head-to-head matchups, the Phillies are actually just one game worse than the Mets. When these matchups are included, however, that number balloons to 8.5 games. This conveys the importance of winning games against significantly weaker division opponents. Losing games to inferior opponents can derail a team’s season, even if it was solid against other contenders. Remember how bad the Marlins were before the final days of 2007 and 2008?
This week’s three-game sweep against the Phillies could not have come at a better time for the Mets. After being swept in Pittsburgh, where the Mets scored just four runs in three games, the team looked bad in the midst of a horrid offensive slump. But that all changed during this series. The Mets’ lineup erupted for 18 runs over the three games with some impressive individual performances by the likes of Lucas Duda, Michael Cuddyer, Daniel Murphy, and Wilmer Flores. Even Bartolo Colon had a hit.
Everything that the Pirates series was for the Mets, the Phillies series was the exact opposite. The team looked exactly like the one that won 11 consecutive games earlier this season. They had timely hitting, dominant starting pitching, and a stellar bullpen.
With a three-game home series against the last-place Marlins this weekend, the Mets will have yet another chance to prosper on matchups against a weak division opponent. Miami is just 2-8 since Dan Jennings was hired as Marlins manager, so the Mets will get to play a disappointing team in the middle of an awful cold streak.