So often over the past decade, the Mets have gone as far as David Wright has carried them. When Wright is hot, the Mets have succeeded despite deficiencies in other areas. When he is not, they have struggled.
Yet despite Wright's rare April power outage in 2014, the Mets are winning often, taking a 14-11 record into this week's two-game set in Philadelphia. The series kicks off on Tuesday, pitting left-handers Cole Hamels and Jon Niese against each other.
Wright has a career 1.055 OPS against Hamels and a .920 mark at Citizens Bank Park. In other words, if he's going to break out, this is the series to do it.
"The last week or so, I have really hit some balls hard," Wright said. "Whether it's just picking the wrong time of year, the wrong part of the park, whatever it's been, it seems like I've had some good at-bats, really hit some balls hard, but not much to show for it. Hopefully, the weather warms up a little bit, we stop getting these swirling winds, get on the road hitting in some more suitable ballparks, hopefully, I start to see some results."
Wright does enter the week with a respectable .275 batting average, thanks in large part to a 12-game hitting streak earlier in the month. But his RBI double in the fifth inning of Sunday's 4-0 win over the Marlins was just his fourth extra-base hit of the season, and he has not hit a home run since Opening Day. Compare that with his first 25 games of last season, during which he hit .291 with four doubles, three triples and two home runs.
Then again, if it's a slugfest New York is after, Philadelphia should be game. In their seven contests prior to Sunday's series finale against the D-backs, the Phillies averaged 5.6 runs per game.
Mets: Niese rounding into form
Considering the fact that Niese spent most of Spring Training sidelined with soreness in his left elbow and shoulder and began the season on the disabled list, there was some worry that his injuries would linger deep into the year.
Instead he has enjoyed a standout April, going into the series opener with a 2.45 ERA in four starts. He is 6-6 with a 3.13 ERA in his career against the Phillies, and he is fresh off his first win of the season -- a start in which he pitched well despite bitter winds at Citi Field.
"He was making adjustments along the way, figuring out where to start the pitch, because the ball was moving [in the wind]," catcher Travis d'Arnaud said. "It was tough, but he was mentally able to push through that."
Phillies: Ruiz leading offense
After a routine day of rest on Sunday, Carlos Ruiz should be back in the lineup on Tuesday.
That's good news for the Phillies, who watched Ruiz go 11-for-22 with six extra-base hits from April 21-26, supercharging their offense. Always more dangerous against left-handed pitching, Ruiz is 7-for-21 with a homer in his career off Niese.
"He's just clutch," Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg said. "He's using the whole field, and he's big in situations. He's just red-hot."
• Mets outfielder Chris Young has only seven hits this season, but two of them are home runs. He hit a two-run shot on Sunday on the 11th pitch of his at-bat against Tom Koehler.
• The Mets have held a lead at some point in 22 of their 25 games this season.
• Phillies infielder Freddy Galvis is in the middle of a 1-for-30 slump, including an active 0-for-23 stretch dating back to April 10.
"You have to keep strong, playing and giving 100 percent for the team, and that's what I'm going to do," Galvis said. "In seven games, I think I've hit more than eight balls good without a hit, but that's baseball. Sometimes you can get five or six bloopers on the road and you get five hits. That's baseball."