Well, here we go again. Two weeks after the Yankees swept the Mets right out of the Bronx, the two teams meet again, but this time it’s across town at the pitcher-friendly Citi Field. The last time New York’s two baseball teams met, the Yankees were one of the hottest teams in baseball. They have continued their dominance, en route to winning ten in a row. Meanwhile, the Mets have take the “all or nothing” approach after getting swept by the Yanks. They have won six of nine games, but in their last four series, the Amazins have either swept their opponent, or been swept themselves.
How they’re performing:
Despite the hiccup against the Reds over the weekend, the Mets have been a far superior team at home (22-15 in 2012) and are still in the hunt for first place, as their most recent sweep of the Orioles puts them at 38-32, only 3.5 games behind the Nationals. This match-up against the Bombers is the eighth consecutive series where the Mets will be facing a team that is currently over .500. By far the toughest stretch of their season, most analysts felt that this would be the time Terry Collins’ group would show their true colors. The Mets have gone 11-11 so far during this stretch, and while this is not an amazing feet, they have been able to stay above water and keep themselves in contention for the division.
On the contrary, the Yankees have been white hot, even though they dropped the last two games of their series against the Braves at home. Since they lost to the Rays on June 7th, the Yanks swept three straight series, and have won 10 of their last 12 games. This recent surge has put Joe Girardi’s club on top of the AL East, with their 41-27 record 2.5 games better than the Orioles. Something will have to give in this series, as the Bronx Bombers are sporting a squeaky 21-13 road record so far in 2012.
There have been a lot of talk about the Yankee offense as they are in the top-10 in the MLB in runs scored (323) and first in home runs (105). Led by Derek Jeter and Curtis Granderson, the lineup has been able to overcome slow starts and slumps from Robinson Cano, Mark Teixeira, and Alex Rodriguez. Meanwhile, it’s been the solid pitching from starting staff (led by Andy Pettitte) and a solid bullpen, as Rafael Soriano has stabilized since the Mariano Rivera injury.
Meanwhile, even though the Mets have hit just about half as many home runs as the Yankees (55), they are still in the top-10 in runs scored as well (310). The resurgence of Ike Davis and presence of Kirk Nieuwenhuis and Scott Hairston have kept the Mets as one of the best surprises in baseball. Although Frank Francisco and the bullpen keep fans going for their lungs, the starting staff has the third best ERA in the MLB, being led by R.A. Dickey and Johan Santana, while Dillon Gee and Jonathon Niese have been coming into their own.
Probable pitching match-ups:
Friday, 7:10pm: Jonathon Niese (4-3, 3.82 ERA) vs. Andy Pettitte (3-2, 2.77 ERA)
These two pitchers face each other for the second time in two weeks, and Niese is looking to bounce back after his worst start of the month. He began June by not allowing an earned run in 13 innings pitched, but he threw 114 pitches against the Reds last week (second-highest total of the season) and gave up four runs in his third loss of the year. Pettitte normally has the Mets’ number (8-5, 3.66 ERA in 20 starts), but the Amazins did have a lead on him when he exited the last time they faced. He will be pitching in Citi Field for the first time.
Young continues to make strides in his first starts since coming back from shoulder capsule surgery. Despite losing his first decision since July 2009 in his last start, he threw a season-high 7 innings and showed no ill effects from his injury. With his lack of velocity, he needs to have his control at the start of the game, something that he hasn’t been able to do in his last two starts. Nova is just a winning machine, posting a victory in his last five starts, and has only allowed two earned runs in his last three starts, spanning 22.2 innings.
Sunday, 8:00pm: R.A. Dickey (11-1, 2.00 ERA) vs. CC Sabathia (9-3, 3.55 ERA)
This is one of the best pitching match-ups of the season. We all know what Dickey has done in his last six starts; you know, that 0.18 ERA? The rising knuckleball has been working pretty well. He will be putting it to the ultimate test against the power Yankee lineup. Meanwhile, Sabathia returned to his ace form, coming off his first complete game of the season in his last start. The Mets dodged him at Yankee Stadium, but CC will bring his 3-1, 2.25 ERA against New York in the finale.
Robinson Cano is making his case to be the AL All-Star starter at second base, and has gotten hot since that two-homer game off Johan Santana in the Bronx a couple weeks ago. In his last 10 games, Cano is hitting .343 (12-for-35), has hit 3 home runs, walked 8 times, and
did not register a hit in only two of those games.
While he hasn’t hit a home run in his last 10 games, David Wright continues to be a force to be reckoned with. He’s racked up 14 hits in the last week and a half, good for a .378 average. He’s also scored 6 runs, drove in 6 more, and walked 5 times. With Lucas Duda heating up (.294 BA in last 10 games), he has a little more protection behind him as well.
Alex Rodriguez did hit a home run in his last game against the Braves, but the Yankees’ $30 million man is only hitting .194 in his last 10 games. He’s driven in 8 runs in the last week in a half, but half of those RBI came in one game, while he didn’t walk once. His season batting average has dropped 13 points since he last faced the Mets last, and if the Bombers want to keep winning, he needs to pick it up.
Daniel Murphy has gotten his fair share of criticism lately, and rightfully so since he’s hitting .186 in June. Murph still doesn’t have a home run this season and is only 6-for-his-last-36 at-bats. To give the lineup more depth, Murphy needs to start hitting balls in the gaps again.
This should be a great series in a much different ballpark….let’s go Mets!