It was the best of stadiums, it was the worst of stadiums…
The Yanks are coming off a big win on Wednesday night in which the offense, defense, and pitching all clicked, and a frustrating 3-1-lead-negating rain-out last night. Sleepy and undoubtedly a bit ornery, they return to The City today for only the third ever Mets-Yanks split-stadium double-header, with the Yanks having won all four of the previous borough-bridging match-ups in 2000 and 2003, but 0-2 vs. the Mets in 2008.
This is a big series for both teams, and not just because of trivial intra-city bragging rights. The Yankees have played well since they last faced the Mets, going 22-11 since May 21, but have only picked up 1.5 games each against AL East leading Boston and secon-place Tampa Bay, who are 21-13 and 20-12 respectively over that same stretch.
Of course, gaining any ground with the jumbled starting rotation that the Yanks have had is encouraging, but the patchwork quilt that is the Yanks’ starting rotation will have a spotlight shone on it this weekend, with Giese (effective in one game but most unproven), Ponson (social misfit and big — fat — question mark), and Rasner (proven to be gritty, but perhaps in over his head) going in three of the four matchups and reliable Andy Pettitte matched up against Mets ace Johan Santana in the other.
As for the Mets, this weekend is the start of perhaps the toughest stretch of their season, with eight straight road games against the Cadinals and Phillies – owners of the 2nd and 3rd best records in the NL respectively – to follow.
Neither team expected to be occupying 3rd place in their respective divisions at this stage of the season, so even though it is too early for any series to be make or break, it is safe to say that this weekend’s series – beginning with today’s twosome – means a lot more to both than who gets to sit a little taller on the Gotham subways next week.
Giese faces off against Pelfrey in the Bronx day-game and Ponson faces Pedro in the Queens nightcap.