Yankees get their first taste of the better stadium in New York.
The Subway Series part two, at Citi Field, takes place this weekend. The Yankees won’t be able to get many cheap pop-fly home runs here. Most of them will have to be earned, and while the Mets don’t have the best pitchers going, I suspect the Yankees will be kept in the park anyway.
The Yankees come into this series having won a series, but having struggled since the last Subway Series match-up. Andy Pettitte was removed from Thursdays game early, and the Yankees needed to use their bullpen, including Mariano Rivera, for 4.1 innings. This needs to be the focus of attack for the Mets. C.C. Sabathia has been exploitable when he goes deep into games, but if they can get him out semi-early, they can get into an already taxed bullpen that’s not very good to begin with.
In fact, the Yankees bullpen in 2009 seems awfully like the Mets bullpen of 2008, and we all know how that ended. The Yankees of 2009 also struggled to beat the Marlins and the Nationals, something that was part of both Mets collapses. So was poor play against a rival in 2007, much as the Yankees have yet to beat the Red Sox this year.
The Mets lineup is depleted, while the Yankees are mostly healthy. It’s not a full strength match-up, but it’s still one the Mets can win. The Yankees pitching can be exploited, their home runs will be down playing in a fair park, and the Mets have actually been hitting the ball lately.
A lot of this depends on the lineups. The Yankees have to juggle outfielders, worry about having no DH, and worry who to play where. The Mets need to keep Fernando Tatis on the bench, start Evans in left, Murphy at first, and probably Jeremy Reed over Fernando Martinez, who has looked mostly over matched at the Major League level so far. I have a feeling he’ll have a good series, if he plays, but right now I think Reed can provide some defense and maybe a hit here or there, and maybe Sheffield will be healthy enough to play a game or two, or at least get some key pinch hits off the bench late.
There is also scoreboard watching fun going on this weekend. The Phillies, who are a half game ahead of the Mets, play the Blue Jays, who are one game behind the Yankees. Additionally the Rays, who are two games behind the Yankees, play the Marlins, who are a half game behind the Mets. The Yankees could be anywhere from second to fourth following this series, and the Mets could be anywhere from first to third. It’s a volatile series, and it should be fun to watch.
The inevitable new park comparisons will come into play, especially Sunday Night on ESPN. I don’t think there is much to discuss. Citi Field wins hands down. Besides having better, readily available food and cheaper, higher quality beer, it’s just a prettier ballpark. Yankee Stadium has it’s perks, but most of them are away from the field of play. The Mets have some work to do with getting some more history into the place. I loved the MVP wall that featured images of all the MVP winners for the Yankees, and I love seeing all the scenes from different years of play above the concessions and around the concourse. However, that’s only about 2-4% of the trip to the ballpark, and once you get to your seat, you might as well be sitting in the same Yankee Stadium from 1923, 1953, or 1983. I’m sure some Yankee fans will be making their first trip to Citi Field this weekend, and I hope they’re not too disappointed when they see the Mets have a better stadium, a better team, and a better fan base.