COMMENTARY | You could argue that the last thing the struggling New York Mets need right now is to have to play four games against the New York Yankees. Or, you could look at it another way and say that maybe the Mets, after a rare win Sunday night, could use the next four nights to turn their season around.
The Mets and Yankees have been meeting in the regular season since 1997. For the first time, however, they'll play each other four times in consecutive days, the first two games at Citi Field on Monday and Tuesday and the next two on Wednesday and Thursday at Yankee Stadium.
To set the scene, you should know -- as if you don't already -- that the Mets are playing real bad baseball while the Yankees have played well all year. And then there's this: As the New York Times points out, entering last night's game, a 4-2 win over the Atlanta Braves that snapped a five-game losing streak overall and an eight-game losing streak at Citi Field, Mets starters had the fourth-worst earned run average (4.43) in baseball, their bullpen had the worst ERA (4.84) in the National League, and their offense had the third-worst on-base plus slugging percentage (.671) and second-worst total in strikeouts (403) in the NL.
The Mets will pitch Jonathon Niese (3-5, 4.80 ERA) tonight and Matt Harvey tomorrow. Despite Niese's struggles this year, he's still capable of putting together a quality start. And Harvey (5-0, 1.93 ERA) has been great. Tuesday night's game, by far, will be the most anticipated.
There is one bit of good news for the Mets as they get set to take on their crosstown rivals. Ike Davis got a hit. Yes, you read that correctly. In fact, over the past two nights, he's gotten three hits, none bigger than his eighth-inning single last night that scored two runs and broke a 2-2 tie. The Mets desperately needed that win. And they desperately need Davis to start hitting.
Meanwhile, despite the injuries, the Yankees continue to do what the Yankees do. And that's win. The Yankees have been without Mark Teixeira, Derek Jeter, and Alex Rodriguez all season. Curtis Granderson was out for six weeks, came back, and now he's hurt again. Kevin Youkilis has been on the disabled list as well, as have pitchers Ivan Nova, Andy Pettitte, and Joba Chamberlain, infielder Eduardo Nunez, and catcher Francisco Cervelli. And this is a team that lost key contributors to free agency during the offseason.
So guys like Travis Hafner, Lyle Overbay, Vernon Wells, David Adams, Jayson Nix, and Brennan Boesch, among others, have filled in. And yet, the Yankees keep winning. They enter tonight's game 30-19, tied for first place in the American League East with the Boston Red Sox. Yes they still have Robinson Cano, one of the best players in baseball, a good leadoff hitter in Brett Gardner, and quality pitching, but you have to give the Yankees a ton of credit. They're playing without all that talent and they're still on top of their division.
Whether they trim their payroll or lose players to injury, the Yankees find a way, while the Mets are still trying to find their way.
Charles Costello has followed the Mets closely since the rookie years of Darryl Strawberry (1983) and Dwight Gooden (1984). He was a beat reporter assigned to cover the Mets during the 1997 and 1998 seasons.
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