The New York Yankees (31-25) are getting ready for game number 57 on their schedule and while it is against the cross-town rival New York Mets (32-26), a victory or loss in any game of the total-six game set, is no more important than the six games they’ll play this season against the Atlanta Braves.
The allure of the Subway Series is bragging rights, but it means more to the fans than it does the teams and players. Ask any one of the players and they’ll admit the atmosphere may be different because the ballpark is packed with fans from both sides, so it becomes louder in the confines of the parks, as shouting matches and other extra-curricular activities ensue from the outset.
What truly matters is that each team is positioned for a run in their respective divisions. The games are going to be hard fought because each team knows this; if they come out of the series losing two of three or worse get swept, there is no humiliation felt on their part for who they lost to, but because of a hole they may have dug themselves in respect to their team’s position in the playoff chase.
Joe Girardi simplifies the context of the series when he was asked if the series creates more competitive juices.
I think it does, you look at both divisions and they’re very similar. It seems like where you are in the division can change in three days dramatically, and I think that makes it interesting. – Paul Casella, MLB.com
He doesn’t mentioned beating the Mets as the fuel, but the fact that his team is in the thick of the AL East race where each team is over .500 and three games separates last place from first. He knows as well as anyone that the games carry no more significance than last night’s game. There are no bonus points for winning games in an Interleague series.
There will be some additional hoopla around Yankee Stadium beginning this evening as Mets lefty Johan Santana will be making his first start since he became the first player in New York Mets history to toss a no-hitter exactly one week ago today. Santana (3-2, 2.38 ERA) was having a fantastic season prior to the no-hitter. He missed all of 2011 after having shoulder surgery. Santana says he is feeling fine after his 134-pitch effort.
Santana owns a 5-3 career mark against the Yankees with a 4.18 ERA in 13 games (10 starts). If he is going to duplicate his effort from last week, he is going to need to figure out how to shut down #2. Derek Jeter rips Santana to the tune of 19-for-43 (.442) with 5 doubles and a homer. On the flip side, don’t expect Alex Rodriguez to be very successful in important spots again tonight as he’s a lifetime .212 (7-for-33) hitter off Santana.
Opposite the Mets hero, will be Hiroki Kuroda who has some experience against the Mets from his days with the Los Angeles Dodgers. They were not good experiences. In seven starts against the Mets, Kuroda is 1-5 with a 5.75 ERA. David Wright, an MVP candidate so far this season (.362, 7 HR, 33 RBI & 1.051 OPS) is 6-for-14 in his career against Kuroda. One of the Mets offseason additions, Andres Torres, is 0-for-7 for his career versus Kuroda. Torres is hitting a disappointing .216 this season.
In tomorrow night’s matchup, the Yankees send Phil Hughes to the mound. Hughes (5-5, 4.96 ERA) is coming off possibly the best start of his career, a nine-inning complete game against the Detroit Tigers in which he allowed only one run on four hits and three walks while striking out eight. Hughes’ masterpiece came right arguably his worst career outing against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.
Hughes is 1-1 with a 4.20 ERA in four games (two starts) against the Mets in his career. Jason Bay is 5-for-12 against Hughes but a majority of the rest of the lineup has little history against the 26-year-old righty.
The Mets will counter with Dillon Gee (4-3, 4.48 ERA) on Saturday. Gee has four straight quality starts including two wins. In one start against the Yankees, Gee took the loss, working seven innings and allowing four runs on seven hits and three walks. Curtis Granderson homered off Gee and Rodriguez had two hits and run in the game.
The series finale will feature Andy Pettitte, who will make his last start while in his 30′s, and Jonathon Niese. Pettitte (3-2, 2.78 ERA) was dominant in his last start against the Tampa Bay Rays (7.1 IP, 0 R, 2 H, 0 BB, 10 K). Pettitte is 8-5 with a 3.69 ERA in 19 starts against the Mets. This could be a great series for Wright as he has excellent numbers against Pettitte too. He is 10-for-21 with 2 homers against the veteran lefty. The only other member of the current Mets squad who has faced Pettitte a significant number of times is Bay and he has great stats too, 14-for-32 with a homer. Niese also has just one start against the Yanks. He lost the game giving up three runs on nine hits and two walks while striking out seven.
This has the makings of a great series, not because both teams represent New York City, but rather the Yankees and Mets are trying to close in on first place in their divisions. The games matter in the standings first, bragging rights next.
Check out the Yanks Go Yard Podcast Preview hosted by Ricky Keeler who gives his insights to the Subway Series.
Topics: Alex Rodriguez, Andy Pettitte, Curtis Granderson, David Wright, Derek Jeter, Dillon Gee, Hiroki Kuroda, Jason Bay, Johan Santana, Jonathon Niese, New York Mets, New York Yankees, Phil Hughes, Robinson Cano, Yankees