- Kieran Darcy, ESPNNewYork.com
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NEW YORK -- Well, how about those 27 innings?
In what has to qualify as one of the most shocking three-game series in recent memory, the New York Mets shut out the Philadelphia Phillies not once, not twice, but three-straight times this week, capped off by a 3-0 win at Citi Field Thursday night.
"To keep [the Phillies] from scoring in three games, that's huge," Mets manager Jerry Manuel said after the game. "That speaks volumes for the entire pitching staff. They did a tremendous job."
The only other time in franchise history the Mets have defeated the same team with three consecutive shutouts was back in September 1969, in Philadelphia, behind pitchers Jerry Koosman, Tom Seaver and Gary Gentry. Those Miracle Mets set a club record by holding opponents scoreless four straight times in that stretch.
"We wanted the shutout, just for our staff," right-fielder Jeff Francouer said. "To go out there and put up three zeros in three-straight nights against a team like that is unbelievable."
The Mets and Phillies had to wait a little longer than expected to get the final game of this series under way -- the skies opened up a few minutes before the scheduled first pitch, and the start was delayed by one hour and 55 minutes. But once the players finally took the field, it proceeded much the same way Tuesday and Wednesday's games did -- with the Mets' pitchers dealing, and the Phillies' hitters confounded.
The only difference was, the Mets had a proven starter on the mound in Mike Pelfrey. The previous two nights, the Mets went with Hisanori Takahashi, making just his second major-league start, and R.A. Dickey, the knuckleballer just recently recalled from the minor leagues. Both Takahashi and Dickey hurled six innings of scoreless ball against the Phillies, a very pleasant surprise indeed.
Pelfrey's performance, although less surprising, was even more impressive. He limited the Phillies to just three singles in seven innings of work.
"I actually thought he was overmatching a good hitting club, and you don't see that very often," Manuel said.
Pelfrey, 26, a former No. 1 draft pick in his third-full season as a major-league starter, seems to have finally emerged as a top-of-the-rotation major league pitcher. After a disappointing 2009, he's now 7-1 in 2010, with a 2.54 ERA.
Pelfrey didn't even think he had his best stuff on Thursday night, alluding to his five walks in particular.
"I wasn't very sharp, but the guys played great defense behind me," Pelfrey said. "I got myself into jams walking a lot of guys, which I wasn't happy about. But I thought that when I needed to, I made a pitch to get out of it."
The Mets' offense, which erupted for eight runs on Tuesday and five more on Wednesday, wasn't quite as productive Thursday night. But they did enough, considering Pelfrey's performance.
Jose Reyes was the catalyst, once more. He scored the Mets' first run of the game, with an infield single in the first inning, eventually scoring on a Jason Bay double. And Reyes drove in the Mets' other two runs, courtesy of a double into the left-field corner in the seventh.
Reyes was demonstrably excited after the double, clapping his hands repeatedly and pointing at his own dugout. He was still excited after the game.
"Much much, much better," Reyes said, describing how's he feeling after his third-straight multi-hit game. "I just see the ball a lot better. Just feel more comfortable at the plate."
What a difference a week makes!
Last Friday, Jerry Manuel called a team meeting in his office prior to the first game of the Subway Series with the Yankees, encouraging his players to loosen up and have fun, even while rumors were swirling about his own job security following a 2-6 road trip.
A week later, the Mets have just won five of six against last year's two World Series participants -- no small feat, even though both the Yankees and Phillies are struggling right now. The Mets now stand 25-23, two games over .500, and just two games behind the first-place Phillies in the National League East.
Now the Mets head on the road, where they're just 6-14 so far this season -- to Milwaukee for three games, followed by three games in San Diego.
"What we have to do is take this attitude on the road, and perform there just like we've performed at home," Manuel said.
Who can predict what will happen next with this team? It's been a soap opera all season long. What's the next plot twist?
With Johan Santana pitching Friday night, it could be yet another shutout.
A week ago nothing was working. Now, Jerry Manuel's team can do no wrong.