The Phillies and Mets remain an extended winning streak away from climbing the National League East ladder, but first, they'll have to claw at one another to stay out of the division's basement.
Philadelphia will send David Buchanan to the mound to oppose New York's Zack Wheeler as the teams open up a five-game series on Thursday night at Citizens Bank Park.
In front of family and friends, Buchanan impressed in his big league debut Saturday against the Dodgers. He allowed five hits, two runs and struck out two in five innings at Citizens Bank Park, keeping his composure as Cliff Lee's replacement.
The 25-year-old threw just 66 pitches against Los Angeles, but he figures to have a longer leash on Thursday.
"That's an outing he can build on as we need him," Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg said after Buchanan's debut.
Wheeler is hoping to build off his last start as well. After giving up 10 earned runs in 10 1/3 innings in starts against the Yankees and Nationals, the right-hander turned things around against the D-backs on Saturday. In 6 2/3 innings, his longest outing of the season, Wheeler held Arizona to three runs (two earned) on six hits and a walk, striking out seven.
"That's a huge step forward for him. Enormous step," Mets manager Terry Collins said following Wheeler's latest start. "He was angry with the way things started, but he beared down, and he pitched very, very well throughout the entire ballgame."
Catcher Travis d'Arnaud was activated from the seven-day disabled list for the Mets on Wednesday. He experienced concussion symptoms for approximately one week after Alfonso Soriano hit him in the helmet with a backswing on May 13. Once doctors cleared d'Arnaud, he performed baseball activities for a few days before proceeding to three Minor League rehab games.
Phillies: Gonzalez to continue throwing program
Right-hander Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez was examined by Phillies head physician Michael Ciccotti on Tuesday. Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said Gonzalez complained of a "dead arm" following his latest rehab start with Class A Advanced Clearwater.
An MRI did not reveal any structural damage, and Gonzalez, 27, said there was not any significant pain. He will continue a throwing program on Thursday.
Mets: Mejia "ready for any situation"
When Collins essentially named Jenrry Mejia his closer earlier this month, he was eager to see how the former starting pitcher would adapt to the workload. Mejia had been a reliever in the past, at least partially blaming that for the litany of arm issues that plagued him from 2010-13.
But Mejia has accepted every challenge the Mets have thrown at him this season, including pitching in both halves of Sunday's doubleheader and throwing two innings two days later against the Pirates. Not only is Mejia no longer concerned about his health, but he is ready to take on every scenario that Collins can throw at him -- including pitching in back-to-back-to-back games.
"The kid just said, 'Give me the ball,' and that's pretty impressive," Collins said. "He's going to take to this pretty easy."
• Since making his Major League debut on September 14, 2012, Darin Ruf has the 10th-best home OPS (.962) among all Major Leaguers (minimum 150 at-bats).
• Mets third baseman David Wright and second baseman Daniel Murphy each have 66 hits this season, which leads the National League.
• Entering Wednesday, Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard was just seven RBIs shy of 1,000 for his career. He has appeared in 1,226 games and will likely need the fewest number of games to reach 1,000 RBIs among all active players. Albert Pujols needed 1,257 games to reach 1,000 RBIs.
Erik Bacharach is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.