May 25

Can Mets’ Dickey get the Phils to knuckle under.

Game #46 vs. Phillies

Next up are the Mets’ real rivals, the Philadelphia Phillies, who lead then by five games in the National League East.

The Mets are feeling better about themselves these days. Can you imagine how good they’ll feel if they swept?

Because Boston knuckleballer Tim Wakefield baffled the Phillies Saturday, the Mets are hoping the same will happen tonight behind R.A. Dickey.

“When you haven’t seen it, basically what we were doing was popping it up,’’ Phillies manager Charlie Manuel. “It wasn’t like we were striking out a lot, we were popping balls in the air, and at times, we weren’t very aggressive with it.’’

Well, now that the Phillies have seen the knuckleball, it makes one wonder if they might adopt a different approach with Dickey, who says Wakefield shouldn’t have much of a bearing on his start.

“I don’t think it has much to do with my outing,’’ said Dickey, who is taking John Maine’s spot in the rotation. “It’s good that he threw a shutout instead of giving up 15, I’ll tell you that.’’

Dickey planned to talk with Wakefield prior to this start. Dickey is coming off a no-decision last Wednesday against the Nationals in which he gave up two runs on six hits in six innings.

The Mets are hoping to feed off the good feelings generated from Johan Santana’s strong start Sunday night against the Yankees.

“You see the atmosphere around here,’’ Santana said. “Everybody’s happy. Everybody’s excited.’’

They might be happy now, but Jamie Moyer has put a damper on them before. The Phillies have won 13 of their last 16 games against the Mets, and have won six of their last eight in games started by Moyer.

NOTEBOOK: Jason Bay is sizzling, going 10-for-15 – including two homers – with eight runs scored in his last four games. … David Wright is 21-for-50 (.420) with four homers lifetime vs. Moyer. However, he has 32 strikeouts since May 3. … Luis Castillo was back in the line-up at second.

May 25

May 25.10: Oswalt: Go for it.

The odds are long against pulling the trigger on this deal, but the Mets must seriously consider making a decisive and early run at Roy Oswalt to get an edge on the field before the trade deadline.

Make the run now as the price figures to spike in July.

And, the sooner the better, while the Mets are still considered a competitive team. How long that lasts is questionable with three-fifths of the rotation – suspect to begin with – out indefinitely.

How often will Omar Minaya get a second chance like this? After holding a pat hand during the winter, the Mets’ rotation is in shambles but now there’s the prospect of Oswalt, which would give them instant credibility as a contender. Minaya can redeem his winter with a simple phone call.

After playing a listless pat hand, he’s been now dealt a chance at an ace. Johan Santana, Oswalt and Mike Pelfrey would be as good as any trio in the league.

Oswalt is owed $31 million for this year and next with a $16 million club option for 2012. That’s a lot of money, but it is better well spent than Oliver Perez’s deal.

Oswalt also makes more sense than Cliff Lee in that his cost is definable, while Lee wants to test the market. Trading for Lee over Oswalt would be foolish, as it would be dealing for a hired gun.

For as bad as the Mets have played at times, they are still only five games behind the Phillies in the NL East. After winning two of three over the Yankees, there’s a sense of growing optimism. However, getting an Oswalt would legitimatize that optimism and spurn it to another level.

The odds might be gone, but go for it.

May 24

May 24.10: Mejia to stay in pen.

Until they change their minds again, the Mets have made a decision – hopefully definitive for at least the remainder of the season – on Jenrry Mejia.

The prospect with the million-dollar arm will remain in the bullpen.

Manager Jerry Manuel confirmed last night what many surmised after Manny Acosta was optioned to Triple-A Buffalo instead of Mejia to make room for Ryota Igarashi’s return from the disabled list.

“You have a young man who has a tremendous arm, tremendous upside,’’ Manuel said. “If you take what he gives you in small bits, it’s very serviceable, even at the big league level.’’

Several things went into the decision, notably when Mejia started altering his delivery Thursday in Washington. Altered deliveries lead to arm problems and the Mets want to nip possibility early.

During the series with the Nationals, Manuel had suggested Mejia was likely to be the one to go to the minor leagues to make room for Igarashi.

Starting might still be in Mejia’s future, but not for now, and you would be correct if you thought this move had something to do with Manuel’s immediate job future.

“If we wanted to have him start, he could start in the winter somewhere,’’ Manuel said. “But here, if he’s serviceable and if he’s usable, then I’d like to have him. It’s probably selfish on my part, but that’s how I feel.’’

With Igarashi back, the plan is for him and Feliciano to work the eighth and Mejia to work the seventh. Watching Mejia blow away Mark Teixeira Saturday night convinced Manuel.

“Basically, that was the plan all along,’’ Manuel said. “We felt that Igarashi could handle the eighth, and we needed someone to handle the seventh. I wanted to see Mejia pitch in this environment and see how he responded to it, and he did real well.’’

I only hope the Mets stick with this decision and not waver. To bounce him from role to role at 20 could be harmful to his development.

May 23

May 23.10: Chat Room, Game #45 vs. Yankees: Santana vs. Sabathia.

Overall, Johan Santana has enjoyed pitching against the Yankees, but what’s gnawing at him is his last one.

Santana, 4-2 with a 4.59 ERA in eight regular-season starts against the Yankees – including 1-2 with an 8.64 ERA with the Mets- gave up nine runs in three innings in a 15-0 loss last June 14 at the Stadium.

“It motivates me,’’ Santana said. “I don’t go crazy about it, but it’s there. I want to pitch against them again.’’

That game represented a career-high in runs allowed until the Phillies hit him for ten runs, May 2, at Philadelphia. Since then, he’s made three starts with no decisions, but a 2.49 ERA. He gave up two runs in seven innings in his last start, May 18, at Atlanta.

Interleague play has not been kind to Santana since joining the Mets as a free agent from Minnesota, going 2-5 with a 5.11 ERA in seven starts.

Santana will be going against C.C. Sabathia, who, beat him in three of four starts while the latter was with Cleveland.

Here’s tonight’s line-up:

Jose Reyes, SS
Luis Castillo, 2B
Jason Bay, LF
Ike Davis, 1B
David Wright, 3B
Angel Pagan, CF
Rod Barajas, C
Jeff Francoeur, RF
Johan Santana, LP

NOTEBOOK: Daniel Murphy went 5-for-5 with three RBI today for Class A Port St. Lucie. He is expected to join Class AAA Buffalo Tuesday. … Former Mets pitcher Jose Lima, 37, died of a heart attack in Los Angeles. He was 0-4 with the Mets in 2006, his final season in the major leagues. … Reliever Ryota Igarashi was activated from the DL and reliever Manny Acosta was optioned to Buffalo.

May 22

May 22.10: Chat Room, Game #44 vs. Yankees: Pelfrey attempts to stop slide.

The beleaguered Mets – losers of eight of their last ten games – hope to get better tonight with Mike Pelfrey (5-1, 3.02) going against the Yankees.

Pelfrey is making his third start against the Yankees, against whom he is 1-1 with a 5.40 ERA in 10 innings. In his last start, Pelfrey gave up two runs over a season-high 7 2/3 innings Monday at Atlanta, which snapped a five-game losing streak.

With questions throughout their rotation, Pelfrey has been the Mets’ most dependable starter, and his 3-0 with a 2.61 ERA in five home starts. Pelfrey attributes much of his success for falling out of love with the sinker. He said he was becoming predictable with the sinker.

“I would almost say I’ve changed from being a sinkerball guy to a four-seam guy,’’ Pelfrey said. “There are times when I’ll only use the sinker when I get in trouble. I’ve changed.’’

What hasn’t changed is the Mets’ myriad of pitching questions, beginning with John Maine, who will be examined by doctors Monday for discomfort and fatigue in his shoulder.

Maine pitched to one batter Thursday night at Washington before being removed. Angry for being taken out, Maine has finally admitted to discomfort, but stubborn as he is, said he didn’t think it was necessary to go on the DL.

Raul Valdes replaced Maine and pitched five strong innings. He was so effective, that Jerry Manuel has tentatively penciled him in over knuckleballer R.A. Dickey to start Tuesday against Philadelphia.

The Mets’ offense, save a 10-run explosion Thursday night, has been listless for much of May. It has been a brutal month for David Wright, who was 0-for-4 with two strikeouts. Wright has struck out 23 times since May 8.

Here’s tonight’s line-up behind Pelfrey:

Jose Reyes, SS
Luis Castillo, 2B
Jason Bay, LF
Ike Davis, 1B
David Wright, 3B
Angel Pagan, CF
Rod Barajas, C
Jeff Francoeur, RF
Mike Pelfrey, RP