Major League Baseball

Phillies’ Vargas aims to thwart ex-mates Mets

mlb2.jpgMETS (68-66) AT PHILLIES (69-64)
4:05 p.m. ET; NBCSP, FS1, SNY, MLB.TV

Jason Vargas was around only for the beginning of the red-hot run that lifted the New York Mets (-1.5) back into playoff contention.

On Saturday, Vargas will try to do his part for the Phillies to ensure his former teammates can’t mount another surge when Philadelphia hosts the Mets in the middle game of a three-game series.

Vargas (6-6, 4.09 ERA) is scheduled to take the mound against the Mets’ Steven Matz (8-8, 4.06 ERA) in a battle of left-handers.

The Mets snapped a six-game losing streak Friday night, when Todd Frazier hit three-run homers in the eighth and ninth innings of an 11-5 win. With the victory, New York remained five games behind the Chicago Cubs (-1.5) in the race for the second National League wild card while dropping the Phillies 3 1/2 games back.

The Mets, who scored just 17 runs during their skid, scored all 11 runs Friday after the sixth inning. Wilson Ramos extended his hitting streak to a career-high 23 games with a pinch-hit RBI single to tie the game at 1-1 in the seventh before Amed Rosario laced the go-ahead, two-run single in the eighth.

“Rosie’s (hit), Ramos’ (hit), those are the ones that we’ve been missing,” Mets manager Mickey Callaway said. “And then you kind of get rolling and then you see the byproduct of that, we put up (almost) 10 more. Great job. They kept on grinding.”

Vargas was with the Mets for the first four games of their 15-1 surge from July 25 through Aug. 10 that allowed them to move from tied for 13th in the NL to within a half-game of the second wild-card spot. The 36-year-old, who is in the final guaranteed season of his contract, was dealt to the Phillies for minor league catcher Austin Bossart on July 29, a day after New York acquired Marcus Stroman from the Toronto Blue Jays (+1.5).

Vargas is 0-1 with a 4.34 ERA in five starts for the Phillies, who are his sixth big league team. But the trade to Philadelphia marked the first time he’s been dealt in the middle of a season, which will make Saturday a bit of an unusual experience for someone who’s seen just about everything.

“It’s not the first time I had to pitch against an old team, but the first time I had to do it so soon,” Vargas told reporters Friday. “They are a division rival, and we need to beat them. That is the only difference now.”

Vargas didn’t factor into the decision in his most recent start, when he gave up four runs over six-plus innings Monday as the Phillies beat the Pittsburgh Pirates (-1) 6-5 in 11 innings.

Matz took a hard-luck loss last Sunday when he gave up one run over six innings as the Mets were edged 2-1 by the Atlanta Braves (-1.5).

Vargas is 0-2 with an 8.31 ERA in three career appearances (two starts) against the Mets, who are one of just two teams, along with the Milwaukee Brewers (+1.5), he’s never beaten. Matz is 1-4 with a 6.15 ERA in nine appearances (eight starts) against the Phillies.

–Field Level Media

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