Yankees @ Mets
Friday, May 21 – Vazquez vs. Takahashi
Saturday, May 22 – Hughes vs. Pelfrey
Sunday, May 23 - Sabathia vs. Santana
Mets @ Yankees
Friday, June 18 – Takahashi vs. Vazquez
Saturday, June 19 – Pelfrey vs. Hughes
Sunday, June 20 – Santana vs. Sabathia
Déjà vu? Not quite.
Although the last time the cross-town rivals played was only a month ago and the starting pitching match-ups were remarkably the same (even to the exact days), times have dramatically changed. On May 21st, the Yankees sat at 26-16 and 4 games back of the surging Tampa Bay Rays. The Mets, on the other hand, held a terrible 20-23 record. Those Mets trailed the Phillies by 6 games and kept the NL East cellar nice and warm.
The Mets took the first set by winning two of three in their home at Citi Field and haven’t cooled off since. 4 weeks later, the Mets were no longer playing for merely bragging rights and the Yankees were fully expecting an onslaught. This series meant much more due to the fact that the Mets had gone 16-4 since slaying the almighty Yanks. Now, the war was on.
Friday night seemed like the night for the Bombers to live up to their name. Having seen Hisanori Takahashi for the first time in May (everyone knows the Yankees don’t hit pitchers they see for the first time), they were bound to have scouting reports on the man and put up some good battles at the plate. This, however, was not exactly the case.
The Mets got on the board first thanks to a 2-out double by David Wright followed by an RBI single off the bat of Ike Davis to make it 1-0. Little did anyone know at the time that this was all the Mets would need.
Takahashi and Vazquez traded zeroes heading into the bottom of the 6th inning when the Yankees had their first real chance of the night. The bases were loaded for Jorge Posada after two singles and a walk. Posada looped one in the infield that nearly anyone in baseball could have beaten out except himself. The Yankees had more opportunities in the 7th and 8th innings when Francisco Cervelli led off with a double and Swisher led off with a single. In both innings, however, the Yankees went down quietly.
The Mets would score 2 runs off Chan Ho Park in the 8th and 1 run off Boone Logan in the 9th to take a 4-0 lead. Against Francisco Rodriguez, the Yankees would load the bases to no avail in the 9th as Derek Jeter struck out and Nick Swisher popped out to David Wright to give the Mets their 8th win overall and 3rd in a row against the Yanks.
Saturday brought us a matchup that we could see for years to come. Phil Hughes and Mike Pelfrey battled in the Bronx, but couldn’t manage to keep the ball in the park. On the 2nd pitch of the game, Jose Reyes took Hughes deep to right for a quick 1-0 for the Mets.
The Yankees would respond off Pelfrey by scoring on a double play ball hit by Teixeira to even the score 1-1. After Henry Blanco worked a walk in the 3rd, Reyes took a Hughes delivery out of the ballpark again to give the Mets a 3-1 lead.
Red-hot Brett Gardner led off the 3rd with a base-hit and Swisher would advance Gardner to 2nd. Mark Teixeira snapped out of what seems to be a season-long slump by crushing a 2-1 pitch deep to rightfield to tie the game at 3-3. In the bottom of the 4th, Posada would work a walk to bring Curtis Granderson to the plate. On the 7th pitch of the at-bat, Granderson slammed what would be a game-winning homerun into the rightfield seats to give the Yankees a 5-3 edge.
Hughes would go 7 innings and hand the ball to Joba Chamberlain. Joba struck out Wright with a runner on 2nd to end the 8th and Mariano Rivera would save his 16th game of the year to give the Yanks a 5-3 victory.
The rubber game of the series in the Bronx as well as the 6-game subway series promised to be one of the best pitching matchups available in baseball today. Johan Santana would take the mound for the Kids from Queens and C.C. Sabathia would throw for the Boys from the Bronx.
The action started in the bottom of the 3rd and basically only lasted in that inning. Brett Gardner slapped an opposite field single, Derek Jeter reached on an infield single and Nick Swisher laid down a beautiful bunt that made Johan Santana and Ike Davis look like they were part of the Bad News Bears. Mark Teixeira would step up to the plate for possibly his biggest opportunity of the year to find his swing. With most fans being satisfied with a single, Teixeira went above and beyond expectations. He obliterated a 1-1 fastball into the left-centerfield seats to give the Yankees their 7th grand slam of the year and a 4-0 lead.
If not for a rain delay in the 8th, Sabathia would have gone the distance. He threw 100 pitches through 8 shutout innings surrendering only 4 hits and 2 walks while striking out 6. Mariano Rivera would come on to close the game and send the Mets packing.
Alex Rodriguez quietly had a very poor weekend going 0 for 11. This makes me wonder whether or not that hip injury is worse than the Yankees have told us. Alex has hit only 2 homeruns in the past month, the last one coming on June 3rd against Baltimore.
Yankee stats from the weekend:
• Record: 2-1
• BA: 25 for 98 (.255)
• RISP: 3 for 26 (.115)
• Homeruns: 3
• Runs scored: 7
• ERA: 2.33
Met stats from the weekend:
• Record: 1-2
• BA: 18 for 92 (.196)
• RISP: 4 for 18 (.222)
• Homeruns: 2
• Runs scored: 9
• ERA: 2.66
For what this is worth, the Yankees moved into sole position of 1st place for the first time since April 21st. The Yankees lead both the Tampa Bay Rays and Boston Red Sox by 1 game in the AL East. The Mets now trail the Atlanta Braves by 2.5 games in the NL East.