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

Tonight’s Mets’ line-up vs. Phillies.

Tonight’s line-up vs. Phillies:

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

NOTE: I posted earlier today a column saying the Mets should go for Roy Oswalt.

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 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 23

May 23.10: Maine admits to arm problems; Manuel vindicated.

Is it lying or semantics?

Pitching coach Dan Warthen called John Maine a “habitual liar,’’ two words that could destroy most any working relationship. It remains to be seen whether it will ruin this one, even though Warthen and manager Jerry Manuel have been vindicated for pulling Maine after five pitches last week in Washington.

Warthen’s intent was innocent enough although his choice of words was poor. Warthen meant it in that Maine never admits to his arm feeling poorly.

Even now, when Maine finally admitted something is not right with his shoulder he couched his words.

“There’s a little bit of pain, but what pitcher doesn’t have pain?’’ Maine said. “It’s the nature of pitching. It wasn’t going to stop me from going out there every five days.’’

But, it isn’t pain as much as it is weakness or fatigue in the shoulder.

“There was a little bit of weakness, not that much,’’ Maine said. “I guess they want to get to the bottom of it. What’s the problem, you know? What’s going on back there?

“Something has got to be found, but if everything comes back good, then I’ll deal with it and pitch, if I have to.’’

In the interim, the Mets must improvise.

The current thinking is to use Raul Valdes, who replaced Maine after his five pitch-outing, against the Phillies Tuesday night, followed Hisanori Takahashi and Mike Pelfrey. The thinking of Valdes over R.A. Dickey is because of the left-handed power in the Phillies’ line-up.

The next time Maine’s turn in the rotation would be is a week from today. But, the Mets will jump off that bridge when they get to it.