By John Schweibacher
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The 15th season of interleague play begins this weekend as the Mets head to the Bronx to face the Yankees.
Last season, the Mets were 13 and 5 against the American League, setting a new high for wins against the A.L., topping their 12 victories vs. the junior circuit back in 1999. The Mets won five of their six interleague series a year ago.
The only interleague series the Mets lost in 2010 came against the Yankees, who took two of three from the Mets in the three games played in the Bronx after the Mets took two of three vs. their cross-town rivals at Citi Field. The Mets have gone 2 and 4 vs. the Yankees in the new Yankee Stadium, which opened in 2009.
David Wright, who will miss this weekend series, was the only Mets player to have appeared in all six of the games at the new Stadium, going 7-for-24 (.292). Jose Reyes has homered twice against the Yankees in their new home, tied with Gary Sheffield for the most by any Met over the two series there. Omir Santos is the only other Mets player to have homered in the Bronx in either of the past two seasons.
Fernando Nieve (2009) and Hisanori Takahashi (2010) have the two Mets victories in the new Yankee Stadium. Johan Santana has lost twice there, while Francisco Rodriguez and Mike Pelfrey have each been beaten once by the Yanks in the Bronx since 2009. Santana allowed a total of 13 runs in his two starts in the new Stadium, a career-worst nine in 2009 and four on a Mark Teixeira grand slam last season.
The Mets and Yankees met for the first time in regular season 14 years ago at Yankee Stadium. The Mets took the opener thanks to Dave Mlicki who shut out the Yanks, 9-0, scattering nine hits, walking two and striking out eight. At the time Mets fans bemoaned the fact that manager Bobby Valentine didn’t alter his pitching rotation to have Mets’ ace Bobby Jones, who was 11 and 3 with a 2.49 ERA, face Joe Torre’s defending World Champions instead of Mlicki who was just 2 and 5 with a 4.70 ERA coming into the start.
Current Yanks manager Joe Girardi went 3-for-4 against Mlicki that night.
The Yankees evened up that first interleague series the next night with a 6-3 win. David Wells got the win defeating Armando Reynoso, who had come into the game with a perfect 5 and 0 record. The Yanks knocked Reynoso out of the game with a four-run 2nd inning. The Mets rallied with three runs in the top of the 3rd, two coming on a Bernard Gilkey home run—the first ever homer in a regular season Mets-Yankees game, but would get no closer as the Yankees added two 7th inning runs and Mariano Rivera closed things out in the 9th for the first of his now 20 career saves against the Mets.
The Yankees would take the first regular season “Subway Series” with a victory in the rubber game of the set, 3-2.
The Yanks jumped out to a 2-0 lead thanks to solo homers from Chad Curtis (who started all three games in centerfield for the injured Bernie Williams) and Cecil Fielder (the Yanks DH for all three games) off of Mets starter Rick Reed. David Cone did not allow a hit until John Olerud’s leadoff double in the 7th which led to the first Mets run. In the 8th, the Mets tied things up when Steve Bieser, pinch-running for Matt Franco (who started all three games at 3B for an injured Edgardo Alfonzo), forced a balk from Cone while on 3rd base. The Yankees pulled out the win in the bottom of the 10th on Tino Martinez RBI single against John Franco—the only batter the Mets’ ace reliever faced in the three game set.
Schwei’s Runs, Hits and Errors:
Hits: Justin Turner. Playing 2nd and now 3rd Base for the injured David Wright, Turner has driven in runs in five straight games and has knocked in 10 of the Mets last 15 runs. Turner has reached base safely in 10 straight games, hitting .382 (16-for-34).
Runs: Shutouts. Mets pick up 1st two shutout wins of 2011, blanking Nationals twice in a row at Citi Field. Mets had 19 shutouts in 2010, 16 at home.
Errors: Stranding Runners. Mets hitters have just three hits in their last 30 at bats with runners in scoring position.
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