Playoff Preview?

With 39 games still remaining for each team in the regular season, the New York Mets and San Diego Padres meet in a possible playoff preview when they begin a three-game series on Tuesday at Shea Stadium.

The Mets (70-53) lead the NL East by five games, while the Padres (66-57) have a one-game edge in the wild-card race. The teams would face each other in an NL division series if the current standings held to form.

Oddsmakers from Bodog.com have made New York -115 money line favorites (MLB Odds) for today's game, the over/under has been set at 7.5 total runs (Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 58% of bets for this game have been placed on New York -115 (View MLB Bet Percentages).

Although New York is coming off a 5-1 road trip, it will face a tough test in the series opener with major league ERA leader Chris Young (9-4, 1.93 ERA) on the mound for San Diego.

Young is still seeking his first win in three starts since returning from the 15-day disabled list for a strained left oblique. Young threw six shutout innings Wednesday, giving up three hits and two walks while striking out six, but did not get a decision as the Padres fell 3-0 to Colorado.

"I definitely was a little sharper," Young told the Padres' official Web site. "I still feel like I'm not quite there with my stuff."

Young is 5-1 with a 1.28 ERA in 14 starts since May 18. However, he is 0-1 with a 7.00 ERA in two career starts against New York.

The 6-foot-10 right-hander has yielded only four home runs in 130 2-3 innings this season, but will be tested by a Mets lineup that has homered at least once in 11 straight games.

Carlos Beltran homered twice and had tied his season high season-high with four RBIs Sunday as the Mets completed a three-game sweep at Washington with an 8-2 victory. New York's center fielder is hitting .294 (10-for-34) with five homers and 13 RBIs in nine games since returning from the 15-day disabled list with a strained left oblique.

"It is about feeling good," Beltran said. "I am seeing the ball, and I feel balanced."

Giving the Mets more power, Carlos Delgado is expected to play for the first time since last Wednesday. He's been out due to a hyperextended left knee. The first baseman is batting .328 (19-for-58) with five homers and 11 RBIs in 16 career games versus San Diego.

The Padres, who are winless in six visits to Shea over the last two seasons, finished a 3-3 homestand Sunday by beating the Houston Astros 5-3. Greg Maddux threw six strong innings to help San Diego avoid a sweep.

"It's time to really start thinking about winning games and not just trying to win against anybody," said Padres first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, who went 2-for-4 with a home run, "but win against the teams that are contending as well."

Mets right-hander John Maine (13-7, 3.59) will try to build off his first win of the month.

The right-hander gave up three runs while tying a season high with eight strikeouts over five innings of Wednesday's 10-8 victory at Pittsburgh. Maine had given up six runs in each of his first two August starts - both losses.

He did not record a decision in his only career start against the Padres, allowing four runs in six innings of a 5-4 loss at San Diego on July 18.

Both of these teams have struggled against the other's division. The Mets are 14-15 against NL West opponents in 2007, while the Padres are 13-14 versus the NL East.

by: Michael Cash - thespread.com – Email Us

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