Two good, high-priced teams will be in New York this weekend as the New York Mets host the New York Yankees at Citi Field starting on Friday night. Both teams won Thursday night to tighten their respective races. Laden with injuries and the usual controversies that accompany both teams, the weekend series has big pennant race potential for the Big Apple’s finest.
In Atlanta, the Yankees finally got plenty of hitting and run production from the cleanup slot in an 11-7 win over the Braves. Alex Rodriquez hit his 563rd homerun, tying the slugger with Reggie Jackson for 11th place on the all-time list.
The Atlanta win was A-Rod’s first multi-hit game since May 25th. His 3 for 5, one homerun and 4 RBI night brought some relief to a troubled clubhouse and manager. In a rare road appearance, General Manager Brian Cashman paid a road visit to the Bronx Bombers who have lost 9 of their last 11 and relinquished the league lead to the dreaded Bosox.
With their talented slugger mired in a .223 slump, the Yanks have struggled for hits much less runs. A-Rod’s slump has been so pronounced that Braves Manager Bobby Cox did the unthinkable walking Mark Teixeira to load the bases for the struggling third baseman. A-Rod used an inside out swing to plate two runs with a clutch single.
Speculation has been that his strike zone is extended and that he has not fully recovered from hip surgery. Yankee fans have short memories and when you are the cleanup hitter for the highest profile team in the sport, you had better produce.
The Yankees’ most consistent starter, Andy Pettitte only lasted 3.2 innings yielding 7 hits and 6 runs before giving way to Alfredo Aceves who went 2.1 innings recording his 5th win against one loss. Mariano Rivera posted his 17th save retiring the last batter.
Resurgent left fielder Johnny Damon also drive in 4 runs with another solid 4 – 5 night at the plate. Damon raised his average to .293 and has been the most consistent Yankee batsman to date.
Mets 3, Cards 2
Two of the game’s best pitchers, both Cy Young winners, went at it on Thursday with the Mets Johan Santana (9-5) out-dueling Chris Carpenter (5-2) and giving the Mets consecutive wins for the first time in 16 days.
With Carlos Beltran, Jose Reyes and Carlos Delgado out with injuries, the Mets’ lineup has some serious holes. Disabled pitchers John Maine and Oliver Perez has pushed the bullpen the brink.
Double A callup, Nick Evans delivered a clutch two run shot in the three run third. With help from Pedro Feliciano, who pitched the eighth and closer Francisco Rodriquez, who notched his 20th save, the Mets pulled within a half game of the Phillies in the NL East. What weekend!