The New York Mets’ resurgence began during the first Subway Series of the season last month. Now the club is in position to move into first place in the NL East as it gets set to face its crosstown rival for the second time.
The Mets look to match a season high with their eighth straight win when they open a three-game set with the sputtering New York Yankees in the Bronx on Friday night.
The Mets (38-28) were in last place when the Yankees came to Citi Field for a May 21-23 series. The Mets dropped the opener, but took the next two and have gone 18-6 since the start of that series to move within a half-game of division-leading Atlanta.
“When you go to play the defending world champions, you’ve got to be playing good baseball,” said manager Jerry Manuel, whose club will try to win seven straight on the road for the first time since a nine-game run June 7-23, 2006. “I feel good about the way we’re playing.”
The Mets, winners of eight in a row in interleague play, may get a boost Friday from Jason Bay(notes), who is expected to return to the lineup. The left fielder suffered a bruised left thigh in a collision with Andy Marte(notes) in an 8-4 victory over Cleveland on Wednesday, and sat out a 6-4 win the next day.
“We thought it might be best to make sure we get it cleared up before we put him back out there,” said Manuel, whose team won eight straight from April 22-30.
Bay went 7 for 10 with two homers and three RBIs versus the Yankees in May. He has batted .402 with five homers and 23 RBIs in 25 games against them since the beginning of 2008.
While Manuel’s team surges into the weekend, Yankees manager Joe Girardi leads a club that is suddenly struggling to score runs.
The Yankees (41-25) defeated Roy Halladay(notes) to win their season-high ninth straight at home Tuesday, but managed four runs in dropping the final two games to Philadelphia in a World Series rematch.
They will try to give more support to Javier Vazquez(notes) (6-5, 5.43 ERA), who has turned his season around after opening 1-4 with an 8.10 ERA. The right-hander won his last three starts with a 2.57 ERA, lasting a season-high seven innings each time.
“It was just a matter of getting my mind right,” Vazquez said after yielding three runs in a 9-3 victory over Houston on Saturday. “I’m throwing strikes, being aggressive.”
Vazquez, 10-8 with a 3.24 ERA in 24 starts versus the Mets, threw six innings of one-hit ball in a 2-1 victory at Citi Field on May 21.
The 35-year-old left-hander bounced back from two rough outings with a 3-1 win at Baltimore on Saturday, giving up one run in a career-best seven innings.
The Yankees’ offensive woes might be even more pronounced if not for Robinson Cano(notes), who leads the majors with a .372 average. The second baseman is batting .462 (18 for 39) during a 10-game hitting streak.
The Mets are looking to win three straight series on the road for the first time since 2007.