The Yankees’ new hitter-friendly stadium could help them re-establish their home success against the Mets when the teams open the 2009 Subway Series on Friday night.
The Yankees (34-26) dropped all three meetings with the Mets (31-27) for the first time at old Yankee Stadium last season after winning 22 of the previous 32 contests, including two victories in the 2000 World Series.
The Yankees lost four of six to the Mets last year, marking only the second time they lost the season series since the advent of interleague play in 1997. New York’s AL representative holds a 37-29 advantage in the all-time Subway Series during the regular season.
Coming off three straight losses at rival Boston, the Yankees - particularly the hitters - will be happy to get back to their new $1.5 billion home.
There have been a major league-high 105 homers hit in the Bronx, while Rangers Ballpark is a distant second with 83. At this pace, there would be 293 homers hit at Yankee Stadium, just shy of the record 303 hit in the thin air at Coors Field in 1999 but well above the 160 totaled last year at the original Yankee Stadium.
The Yankees lead the majors with 57 homers at home, compared to 38 on the road.
“I might try to swing a couple times or two,” said Mets manager Jerry Manuel, a light-hitting infielder in his playing days. “I had three. I might take me a bat out and see if I can hit one.”
The Yankees, though, hit only .230 with three homers in the three losses to AL East-leading Boston, capped by Thursday’s 4-3 defeat that dropped them to 0-8 in the season series.
“We definitely didn’t envision this when we started off the three-game road trip,” said Yankees outfielder Johnny Damon(notes), who has hit nine of his 13 homers at home. “We’ve got over 100 games to go. Our day will come.”
The Mets, meanwhile, might be excited to play at the new park after falling 6-3 in 10 innings to NL East leader Philadelphia on Thursday.
Their 37 homers rank among the fewest in baseball after they connected for 172 to rank seventh in the league a year ago. Part of that dropoff is due to their new stadium - $800 million Citi Field - which is more favorable for pitchers.
Mets third baseman David Wright(notes), who is 17 for 26 with one homer and five RBIs over his last seven games, has seen a significant downturn in his home run production. He has four homers after hitting 12 at this point last year. He was a major part of the Mets winning all three games in the Bronx last year, going 9 for 15 with a homer and five RBIs.
“I’m excited to play in Yankee Stadium just because it’s the new Yankee Stadium,” Wright said. “I enjoy hitting home runs, but you don’t go to a certain ballpark and try to hit home runs or try not to hit home runs.”
The right-hander is 0-1 with a 5.48 ERA in five home starts after failing to get a decision Sunday despite allowing three runs in six innings of a 4-3 win over Tampa Bay.
Chamberlain, making his first start against the Mets, is 2-0 with a 3.82 ERA over his last six outings overall.
Hernandez is 4-0 with a 2.81 ERA in his last eight starts after allowing four hits in seven innings of a 7-0 win at Washington on Sunday.
The right-hander is 0-3 with a 6.37 ERA in five starts against the Yankees.