Phillies-Mets Preview

Though New York Mets fans were surely happy he could just take the mound last weekend, Matt Harvey was not pleased.

It stands to reason he should be this time.

Harvey gets to face what has been one of the majors' worst offenses, just as it was last season, when the Mets host the Philadelphia Phillies on Sunday.

For a brief time, Harvey pitching in the season opener - and beyond - was in doubt after he was scratched from his final spring outing due to a blood clot in his bladder. The health scare was over once he passed it, allowing the ace to start last Sunday in Kansas City, but he gave up four runs and eight hits in 5 2-3 innings of a 4-3 loss.

"There were times that I felt fine, and other times it was just hard finding a rhythm and getting my release point," Harvey told MLB's official website. "I made some pitches when I had to, and wasn't able to when I really needed to. So that's a disappointment, and pretty frustrating."

This will be his first appearance at Citi Field since the deciding Game 5 of the World Series, won 7-2 by the Royals in 12 innings. He has a 1.55 ERA in his last 14 games at Citi, including the postseason.

Harvey is the only New York starter this year who failed to complete six innings and allowed more than one run. Even 42-year-old Bartolo Colon pitched well Saturday, though Philadelphia won 1-0 to avoid its worst start since 1934.

Yet, it was the fourth time the Phillies (1-4) failed to score more than two runs. They're batting .218 after finishing last year at .249 to rank 24th while scoring the majors' fourth-fewest runs.

Harvey is 6-1 with a 2.44 ERA in eight starts against the Phillies despite not exactly dominating them last season, allowing 10 runs and 20 hits in 18 1-3 innings.

Ryan Howard is 3 for 16 with eight strikeouts against Harvey but homered off him last year and hit his second in three games Saturday. It was the first homer off New York pitching this season and Howard's 45th against the Mets, tops among active players.

Keeping Howard at first base has forced power-hitting Darin Ruf to come off the bench. But with the Phillies' struggles offensively, manager Pete Mackanin is considering playing Ruf in the outfield. Starting outfielders Odubel Herrera, Cedric Hunter and Peter Bourjos are all batting under .160.

"In the next few days, if I don't see improvement," Mackanin said, "I'm going to be forced to do it."

Newcomer Neil Walker has the only home run for the Mets (2-2), who are batting .192.

Yoenis Cespedes homered 17 times in 57 games for New York last season but drew boos Saturday following his third strikeout. He's 2 for 16 with no RBIs and seven strikeouts.

David Wright should play after being rested during a cold and damp Saturday night - a precaution due to the spinal stenosis that kept him out most of last season.

"As much as he's a grinder, he's realistic to know that ... he's got to monitor this," manager Terry Collins said.

Wright is 2 for 2 with a walk against Jeremy Hellickson, who gets his second start for Philadelphia. His Phillies debut in the season opener was outstanding despite a no-decision, yielding one unearned run and three hits with no walks in six innings of Monday's 6-2 loss at Cincinnati.

One of Hellickson's nine wins in 27 starts with Arizona last season came against the Mets, giving up two runs in six innings.

He's never pitched at Citi, where the Phillies had lost 10 of 11 before Saturday's victory.

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