PHILADELPHIAAfter what the Mets did in their finale against the Braves, you’d think everyone was getting axed.

Instead, Mets owner Fred Wilpon came out yesterday and declared GM Omar Minaya’s job safe for next season and beyond.

It’s really a head-scratcher. Why announce this after the team suffered what basically was a knockout punch from their worst rival?

It’s just the way the Mets operate these days. They never go the extra mile to bring players in, and they never let go of someone after a crisis.

So now, knowing who’ll be running the team for the foreseeable future, the Mets limp into another house of horrors, Philadelphia. They’ll begin a three-game weekend series tonight, attempting to at least play spoiler if nothing else.

After all, with the Mets now eight games back in the NL East, all they can do is try to put a crimp in the Phillies’ chances.

There are many players trying to rebound from poor efforts. The whole Mets team is, but so is tonight’s starting pitcher, Jon Niese.

In his last start against the Diamondbacks, with the Mets needing to win the series at home, Niese blew up after a solid start.

He hadn’t allowed a hit through the first 3.1 innings, but then allowed the first of two three-run home runs to Adam LaRoche. He lasted only 4.1 innings, allowing seven runs (six earned) on seven hits.

Niese hadn’t allowed more than three earned runs in a game since June 22 against the Tigers, but that was a game in which he got thrown off by a prolonged rain delay. So he actually hadn’t given up more than three earned runs because of his own doing since May 11 against the Nationals.

That’s how good Niese has been in his rookie season. Niese pitched a heck of a game in Philadelphia on April 30. It was a win that extended a Mets win streak to eight games. He’ll have to be just as good to get the Mets off on the right foot tonight.

Pitching for the Phillies will be Joe Blanton. He has had a terrible season, pitching to an ERA close to six. He has been extremely inconsistent while giving up 130 hits in 106 innings.

In his last start against the Nationals, he got roughed up for four runs and nine hits in six innings.

This series may be the Mets’ last important one of the season. If they were to lose two of three, or even get swept, they would be too far behind this late in the season to keep playoff hopes alive.

The good thing is, they’ll miss out on newly acquired Roy Oswalt in this series. The bad thing is, they’ll have to face both Cole Hamels and Roy Halladay after tonight.

It’s a shame that this series doesn’t mean a little more to the Mets in August (like the Yankees-Red Sox series) but at least they can play spoiler. Or, they can shock everyone and make a huge statement.

Jon Niese vs. Philadelphia (April 30)

Win, 7 IP, 1 ER, 4 H, 1 BB, 7 SO

Joe Blanton vs. New York (May 26)

Loss, 5.1 IP, 5 ER, 6 H, 4 BB, 2 SO

2010 season series (New York vs. Philadelphia)

April 30: New York 9, Philadelphia 1
May 1: Philadelphia 10, New York 0
May 2: Philadelphia 11, New York 5

May 25: New York 8, Philadelphia 0
May 26: New York 5, Philadelphia 0
May 27: New York 3, Philadelphia 0

Mets lead series 4-2

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