- Last Updated: 11:02 AM, July 3, 2012
- Posted: 1:45 AM, July 3, 2012
Josh Thole wants the Mets to set the bar high on their final homestand before the All-Star break.
With six games remaining before most of the Mets take a short summer vacation, Thole said it won’t be enough just to have a winning week against the struggling Phillies and Cubs.
“I think 5-1 is a pretty good goal,” Thole told The Post. “We’ve had a crazy last month and to take five of the next six would be huge going into the break.”
But the Mets also know they won’t reach that goal just by showing up. They only need to recall last week, when the Cubs — who had the worst record in the major leagues — won two of three games against them at Wrigley Field. It didn’t stop the Mets (43-37) from finishing with a 4-3 road trip that included three victories in four games against the Dodgers.
The first challenge is a Phillies team that has been besieged by injuries and will arrive at Citi Field today a very unlikely last in the NL East, 11 games behind the first-place Nationals. The Phillies (36-45) just finished getting swept three games in Miami and have lost five straight overall.
Though Chase Utley has returned to the lineup after missing nearly three months rehabbing his chronically sore knees, Ryan Howard and Roy Halladay remain on the disabled list. In a sign they might be sellers heading to the trade deadline, the Phillies dealt reliever Chad Qualls to the Yankees on Sunday.
But to Mets manager Terry Collins, the Phillies remain always dangerous.
“I know Ryan Howard is starting his rehab and they’ve got Chase back, so that lineup is going to get better,” Collins said. “When Doc [Halladay] gets back in there, they’re going to be a force coming up.”
Collins was asked if that opinion would change should the Phillies trade stud lefty Cole Hamels.
“It might be a little different,” Collins said.
But for now the manager doesn’t believe the Phillies are dead.
“Absolutely not,” Collins said, “not even close.”
The Mets have won six of nine against the Phillies and certainly aren’t complaining about getting another series against them that won’t include Howard, who sustained a left Achilles injury in last year’s NL Division Series and subsequently had an infection in his heel.
Halladay, bothered by a sore muscle behind his right shoulder, hasn’t pitched since May 27 and isn’t expected back until later this month.
“It’s nice to catch teams when they’re without their big guys, for sure,” said R.A. Dickey, who is scheduled to pitch Thursday’s series finale before representing the Mets, along with David Wright, in the All-Star Game next Tuesday in Kansas City.
It’s understandable Thole views the next six games as an opportunity, given the Mets will face another steady stream of playoff contenders after the All-Star break. In June, the Mets played 22 straight games against playoff-caliber teams.
But Thole also knows not to take anything for granted.
“We’re going to see three freaking arms — [Cliff] Lee somewhere in there and [Vance] Worley and you can’t let down,” Thole said. “It doesn’t matter last place or first place, they’re the Phillies.”
* Dickey was named NL Pitcher of the Month after going 5-0 with a 0.93 ERA in six June starts. ... The Mets signed 16-year-old Dominican shortstop German Rosario to a $1.75 million contract — the highest bonus the team has given an international player.Follow @NYPostsports