The Subway Series !
Ho hum … maybe if they didn’t do this twice a year, every year, it would seem more interesting. For some reason, it doesn’t feel nearly as special as it used to. In fact, it’s something of an annoyance — kind of like going out on New Year’s or St. Patrick’s Day. You know — all the amateurs are out. Similarly, Shea and the bars will be filled with pedestrian New York fans who watch the All-Star Game, one or two World Series games, and the “Subway Series”.
Not to take the excitement out … after all, this is still a big series for both teams — but not because it has something to do with crosstown rivalry.
Rather, the Mets are 1.5 games up on the Braves, so every game counts. By contrast, the Yankees are 9 games behind the AL East-leading Red Sox, and fading fast. The Yanks can’t afford to continue their current slide if they want to see the postseason, and really need to right the ship, right away. We can pretend that the two teams will be battling for bragging rights, but in reality it’s not about that.
Sorry to burst your bubble. Here’s how the games stack up:
Game One: Oliver Perez vs. Andy Pettitte
The lefties do battle in what appears to be the most exciting pitching matchup of the series. Who will take the mound for the Mets — Dr. Perez or Mr. Hyde? Andy Pettitte will likely do his usual thing — pitch 6-7 innings, give up one or two runs — but will the rest of the Yankee team support him? If the “good” Ollie shows up, it could be a great game.
Game Two: Tom Glavine vs. Darrel Rasner
Darrell who? Glavine has got to get his 295th win out of this game, right? Well, Rasner’s no slouch, and is actually one of the Yanks’ better starters at this point in the season. Rasner is kind of where John Maine was at the beginning of the second half last year — good low 90s fastball, inconsistent breaking pitch, inadequate changeup, but somehow does well enough to get through the lineup twice and give his team a chance to win. After that second time, though, there could be trouble. Most likely, though, he won’t be around for that third time — he averages about 5 1/3 innings per start.
Game Three: John Maine vs. ????
Maine needs to shake off his first poor start of the year and come in with good stuff against a potentially dangerous Yankee lineup. Yes, the Yanks are slumping, but they’re more like a sleeping giant than a team on the skids; they’ll hit, eventually, and the question is not if but when. However, the Mets are already hitting, and you would think they’d have an advantage against the Yankees’ mystery starter — it most likely will be rookie Tyler Clippard, who is a righthanded junkballer with a big overhand curve (i.e., Matt Morris). Luckily he’s not a lefty but could still stymie the Mets — as could Rasner — if the Wandy Rodriguez Effect is in place.
You’ve likely noticed that David Wright is back and Carlos Delgado right behind him. Delgado may continue to warm up, considering that the Yankees will be throwing two inexperienced righthanders. Expect to see a lot of Carlos Gomez this weekend — he looks like the real deal, and far ahead of where we thought Lastings Milledge was this time last year.
Where are they? The Yankees are hitting .274 as a team and have not been the dominating force everyone expected, despite a huge April for A-Rod. Rodriguez has since cooled considerably, and Bobby Abreu has been absolutely awful. There was a time when Abreu could still help a team when he was slumping — be it by drawing walks, stealing bases, or using the glove — but those days are long gone. Jason Giambi most likely will be out all weekend with an injury, so we’ll see Doug Mientkiewicz at first base. Additionally, Robinson Cano is hitting .234 and playing like a zombie, while Johnny Damon has been having issues with his legs all year and only hitting .256. Outside of A-Rod, the only Yankee hitter to be concerned about at this point in time is Jorge Posada, who’s hitting a blistering .371.
If the Yankees continue not to hit, the Mets should have a wonderful weekend. If by chance Shea Stadium somehow sparks the Yankee bats, it will be a wild and rollicking series.