By Kristian Dyer
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Two statement series separated by a little over 100 miles bore different messages for fans of both the Mets and the Yankees but both messages, however, have each set of fans smiling. This past weekend the Mets showed that they won’t go away quietly and the Yankees showed why they very well might win their third division in the last four years.
In Philadelphia, the Mets made believers out of fans and pundits who weren’t sure that their 4-2 start was anything more than an anomaly. After all, the Mets were a popular pick to finish bottom of the division and heading into a series with the Phillies, it was assumed they’d come down to earth. This was, after all, a Phillies team that has dominated the National League East the better part of the past decade and the Mets, well, have seemingly been doormats much of that time.
But in taking two of the first three games of this past weekend’s series in Philadelphia, the Mets showed that they have the potential to rise from their also-ran tags and be a competitive team. The club they beat twice this past weekend isn’t the same Phillies team that should be playing meaningful games in September and October, with injuries wreaking havoc on their lineup. But the Phillies as they stand right now are still better than most team in the league, meaning that taking two of three on the road is a significant accomplishment for the Mets.
In fact, the Mets now have momentum heading down to Atlanta on Monday night for the series against the Braves, a team they swept to start the season. It may just be April and the series may have ended on a down note with an 8-2 loss, but taking two of three against the Phillies now propels the city’s National League team to continue their impressive start. The playoff talk is premature and perhaps pie in the sky stuff, but the National League is fast learning that manager Terry Collins has his team playing inspired and loose to start the season. This isn’t the same team that last year was out of the playoff run by the time school let out. Not by a longshot.
For the Mets, this weekend’s wins over their rivals was a sign that they’ve perhaps arrived. The Yankees used this weekend to show that they’re not going anywhere.
A wild 11-5 win on Sunday night over the Angels showed that the Yankees, despite being swept in Tampa Bay to start the season, are still very much the class of the American League. Against the nouveau riche Angels and their high-priced offseason acquisitions, the Yankees pitching was dominant in the start of the series during a 5-0 win on Friday afternoon. Then on Sunday night, the bats came to life in the big win, showing that manager Joe Girardi’s team has the right balance to eventually start firing on all cylinders en route to what should be another divisional title. It is a team that is built for the long haul and to handle nearly anything that comes its way.
In beating the Angels, a team that seemed poised to battle their way to the top of the American League with their star power, it was a message that the veteran Yankees still must be beaten to get to the pinnacle. The path to the postseason still very much goes through the Bronx.
Now hosting the Twins tonight, a 2-7 team that is coming off a 4-3 loss to the Rangers on Sunday afternoon, the Yankees have a chance to begin taking a hold of the division with what could and should be their second sweep of the season.
Kristian R. Dyer covers the Jets for Metro New York and contributes to Yahoo! Sports. Follow him on Twitter.
Will early wins lead to late season success? Sound off, Mets and Yankees fans!