In 2008, the NL East came down to a battle between the Phils and the Mets. There are a lot of reasons to think it will again in 2009. The chart below tracks the wins for each team as the season progressed:

Wins by Date, 2008

And here’s a review of how things looked on some key dates:

April 30: The Phillies end April at 15-13, tied with the 14-12 Mets for second place in the division. Both teams trail the 15-12 Marlins by half a game.

May 31: The Marlins still lead the NL East with a 31-23 mark. The Phils remain a half game back at 32-25, but the 27-27 Mets trail by four games.

June 17: Willie Randolph is fired by the 34-35 Mets. The Phils lead the division with the Fish in second, three games back. The Mets and the Braves are tied for third place, trailing by 6 1/2 games.

June 30: The Phils lead the NL with a 44-39 record, a half game ahead of the Marlins. After beating the Marlins on June 1 to go a half game up in the division, the Phils stay in first place the whole month. Their lead tops out at four games in the middle of the month. The Fish are back within half a game by the end of the month, but the Mets are under .500 at 40-42 in third place. New York trails the Phils by 3 1/2 games.

July 17: The Mets beat the Reds 10-8 to win their tenth straight game. The Mets and Phils end the day in a tie atop the NL East with identical 52-44 records.

July 31: The 59-49 Phils hold a one-game lead in the division. The Marlins have faded and are now in third place at 58-51, a game and a half back. The Mets, meanwhile, have surged past them and trail the Phils by a single game at 58-50.

The Mets and Phils came into a three-game set in New York July 22-24 tied for the division lead. The Phillies scored six times in the ninth to get a win in the opener, but the Mets won the next two games.

The Mets extended their lead in the division to two games with a win in St Louis, but dropped three of five to end the month while the Phils ran off five straight wins against the Braves and the Nats.

August 31: The back-and-forth month ends with the Mets atop the NL East by a game at 76-61. The Phils are a game off pace at 75-62. The Marlins are seven games out of first place.

The Phils controlled the early part of August, holding the lead in the division till the Mets tied it up on August 13. The Mets led every day but one until the end of the month, maxing out their lead at 2 1/2 games on August 21 and August 22.

September 1-3: The Phillies lost two of three to Washington start September. The Mets, meanwhile, swept a three-game set in Milwaukee and were suddenly three games ahead of the Phils.

September 10: After falling to the Marlins 7-3, the Phils drop to 79-67 on the year. They have 16 games left to play and trail the Mets by 3 1/2 games.

September 18: The Phillies beat the Braves 4-3 to win their seventh straight game. With the win they complete a three-game sweep of Atlanta, coming off the sweep of the Brewers in a four-game set. The Mets, meanwhile, dropped two of three to the Braves in New York on September 13 and 14 before splitting a four-game set with the Nats September 15-18.

The Phillies end the day a half game up in the NL East at 86-67. The have nine games left to play. The 85-67 Mets have ten games left.

September 19: The Phils fall to the Marlins in Florida, losing 14-8 behind a miserable start by Brett Myers. The Mets, meanwhile, take a half game lead in the division when they rally for four runs in the eighth inning to break a 5-5 tie in Atlanta.

It’s the last time that New York will lead the division in 2008, though. The Phils come back and take the next two from the Marlins while the Mets drop a pair of tight games to the Braves. The September 21 game in Atlanta features the Mets taking a 4-3 lead into the bottom of the eighth only to yield four runs. A two-run blast by Delgado in the top of the ninth gets New York to within a run, but they can’t tie the game.

The loss in combination with the Phillies win puts the Phils 1 1/2 games up after the day’s action on September 21 is over. New York has seven games to play and the 88-68 Phillies have six.

September 22: The Phils extend their lead to 2 1/2 games with the help of a 6-2 win over a decimated Braves team. JA Happ gave the Phils his second straight excellent start down the stretch and the Phils broke open a 2-2 tie with a four-run eighth inning that featured a three-run bomb from Burrell. The Mets, meanwhile, fall to the Cubs to drop their third straight.

The Phils had a chance to put it away then. But they didn’t. They dropped the next two with Atlanta.

Santana, Reyes and Wright led New York to a win over the Cubs on September 23 in New York, and the Mets trailed by just a game and a half as play started on the 24th. The Mets couldn’t capitalize on the Phils’ loss, though. They led Chicago 5-1 going into the top of the fifth, but Chicago tied the game with a four-run frame. Chicago took a 6-5 lead in the seventh before a bases loaded walk to Ramon Martinez in the bottom of the eighth forced in a run to tie the game at 6-6. It went to extra innings and a two-run homer by Aramis Ramirez off of Luis Ayala in the top of the tenth helped the Cubs put three on the board. Chicago won the game 9-6 and the Phils held a game and a half lead.

September 25: The Phils were idle while the Mets played the game that was accounting for all the half games in the standings. Trailing 6-3 heading into the bottom of the seventh, the Mets scored four times in their last three times at the plate to earn a 7-6 win.

The 89-70 Phillies led the 88-71 Mets by just a game. Each team had three games left to play. The Phils hosted the Nationals and the Mets hosted the Marlins.

September 26: It was pretty much over after September 26. Utley and Howard combined to drive in seven runs in the first two innings and the Phils rolled to an 8-4 win. The Mets, meanwhile, couldn’t find an answer for Chris Volstad. Volstad held New York to an unearned run over six innings and the Fish took the game 6-1.

The Phillies led by two games with two games left to play.

Brilliant defense by Jimmy Rollins and a solid outing by Moyer led the Phils to a 4-3 on September 27. And then it was completely over. The Mets won on the 27th, but lost on the final day of the season while the Phillies won, capping the season with the Phils three games ahead.

Ryan Howard and the Phillies agreed to a three-year, $54 million contract.

This says the Giants have offered Rich Aurilia a minor league contract.

Tom Gordon signed with Arizona.