Sunday, May 20, 2007

You Can't Win Them All

New Moon, May 2007
The Mets proved their current superiority over the Yankees this weekend in the team's first Subway Series of the season. For the most part, it was the Mets who played smarter, more aggressive baseball, had the better starters and came through when it counted.

This trend continued through the early innings on Sunday night as the Mets, having won the first two games of the series, were going for a sweep of their crosstown rivals. They were up 1-0 on David Wright's third home run in as many official at-bats and even though starter John Maine was struggling, the Yankees couldn't seem to capitalize.

But then the wheels fell off, the Yankees got four runs in the fourth and the Mets never really found a way to solve the Yankees 22-year-old rookie Tyler Clippard, who was making the first start of his career.

Give propers to Clippard who had command on his pitches, changed speeds well and never seemed too overwhelmed by such a big stage. But still, the Mets weren't aggressive enough at the plate and when they had chances to drive in runs, they got caught looking a called third strikes or hit weak ground outs. It felt like the Mets were satisfied taking the series and it would have been nice to see them going for the jugular. Especially Maine. The second-year righty has been phenomenal for most of the early season -- winning his first five starts. But his last three -- two losses and a no decision in a game the Mets came back to win to save his ass -- have been dismal. He seems to have fallen back on his old bad habits. He needs to get right, right now.

The Yankees have lost all of their last three series, having fallen 10 1/2 games behind the division-leading Red Sox who they face in a three-game series beginning tomorrow night (Monday) in the Bronx. Will the Yankees rebound and cool off Boston, turning a big lead into a division race? Or will Boston leave New York with a double-digit lead?

Meanwhile, the Mets head to Atlanta for what is a much bigger series than this one with the Yanks was. The Mets have a 2 1/2 game lead over the second-place Braves (who lost two of three to Boston this weekend). A series win will give the Mets a nice cushion at this juncture in the season but a loss would put them in a real dogfight.

Still, the Mets should enjoy their flight to Atlanta tonight and a day off before facing the Braves there, having at least struck first blood against the Yankees. Until the Round Two of the Subway Series, we Mets fans can claim the best baseball team in New York. Sweeter words have never been spoken to a Mets fan.

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