Series Preview: Mets vs. Yankees Part Deux
The crosstown New York Yankees traverse into Flushing to face the Mets for a three-game series this weekend at Citi Field, putting an end to the blasphemy known as “interleague play” for the year. Each team comes in to the series settled in second place in their respective divisions, with the third- and fourth-place followers biting at their coattails. That said, this weekend means more than TV ratings for MLB and ticket revenues to the two teams (or does it? according to reports none of the games are sold out).
Game one: Mike Pelfrey (5-2, 4.74 ERA) vs. C.C. Sabathia (6-4, 3.71 ERA)
Sabathia was pulled out of his last start in the second inning due to bicep tightness, but is reportedly 100% and ready to go against the Mets. He only has one career start against the Mets, a 9-1 win in which he threw 8 innings, but it was so long ago it doesn’t matter. After a solid May, Pelfrey has taken a step backward in June, struggling to pitch to and through the sixth inning. He was ripped by the Rays five days ago, and has been hit hard in three of his last four starts. Mark Teixeira is 4-for-10 lifetime vs. Big Pelf.
Game two: Tim Redding (1-2, 6.08 ERA) vs. A.J. Burnett (5-4, 4.24 ERA)
Burnett has been a huge disappointment for the Yankees, but he found his stuff against the Mets two weekends ago, shutting them out for seven frames. Burnett lost his next start vs. the Marlins, but held the Fish to only one earned run over 6 1/3. Meantime, Redding put together his finest performance and first win as a Met — though, I still don’t trust him nor that possum on his chin. Mark Teixeira is 4-for-9 career against Redding, and all four hits are doubles.
Game three: Livan Hernandez (5-2, 4.05 ERA) vs. Chien-Ming Wang (0-6, 11.20 ERA)
Livan has been pitching well enough to merit consideration as the Mets’ second-best starter, but he didn’t fare too well in his game against the Yankees. After a five-inning, six-run drubbing by the Bronx Bombers, Livan rebounded with back-to-back, nearly identical, 7-inning, 8-hit, 2 ER performances vs. the Orioles and Cardinals (he is obviously a bird lover). Similarly, Wang’s last two starts were just as identical, but not nearly as impressive — 5 IP, 6 H, 3 ER — against the Braves and Nationals. The scary thing for Yankees fans is, those two most recent performances by Wang are his best of the year — by far. Considering how well the Yanks lineup handled Hernandez, and Wang’s apparent turning a corner, this game is not as much a slam dunk for the Mets as it might’ve looked two weeks ago.
Oh, and Mark Teixeira is 3-for-6 career vs. Hernandez, including two homeruns. But it doesn’t stop there. Nick Swisher (.357), Alex Rodriguez (.579, 3 HR, 5 doubles), Derek Jeter (.421), Robinson Cano (.444), Melky Cabrera (.400), Jorge Posada (.333), and Hideki Matsui (.429) all enjoy teeing off on Livan Hernandez.
Which Mets team will show up this weekend? The one that beats the Cardinals three out of four or the one that lost the four series previous? The one that can’t manage more than two hits off of journeyman Joel Pineiro or the one that pounds St. Louis pitching for 16 hits and 11 runs? The one that loses heartbreakers in the final innings or the one that shows grit and intestinal fortitude when times get tough? It’s anybody’s guess, and they’re going into a series against a team with an ironically similar split personality disorder. Sit back and enjoy (and keep the hard alcohol / meds / happy thoughts nearby, just in case).
Notable milestones: Mariano Rivera’s next save will be #500 for his career. Argenis Reyes’ next walk will be #5 of his MLB lifetime.