(Long Island, N.Y.) The Mets entered the second stanza of this season’s Subway Series on a high note. They had won their last two series on the road at Texas and Detroit and were at the .500 mark. Things had been going so well for Terry Collins’ bunch that their recent offensive explosion conjured up talk of the Wild Card spot.
Then the Yankees came in for a three-game set.
All of the reminders why the Mets are inferior to their cross-town rivals came to light. Key hits early in the game with runners in scoring position, strong starting and relief pitching, as well as making your own breaks were one-sided over the first two games this past holiday weekend at Citi Field, and only two errors by a third-string shortstop prevented a sweep.
The Yankees expect to win and their front office demands nothing less. The air was certainly more tense back in George Steinbrenner’s hey-day, but a Bomber in a prolonged slump – especially one that comes with a high priced contract – can expect to see some bench time or worse.
The Mets? They reward someone like Jason Bay by putting him in the clean-up slot when he hasn’t shown a thing in a year and a half in Flushing since signing a $44 million free agent deal. Even with his ninth inning walk and tenth inning, game-winning single in the finale, Bay has been underachieving beyond comprehension.
This is a team that has shown no fire or desire since October of 2006. Willie Randolph and Jerry Manuel have lost their jobs because of it and now Collins is experiencing the same. Maybe it isn’t the manager but rather the type of players that have been here. There is definitely something wrong when having the same amount of wins and losses is reason for celebration.
For the Yankees, anything short of a World Series championship is viewed as a failure. They expect to contend for more than just a playoff spot every time they head north from Spring Training.
Eduardo Nunez absolutely tore the cover off the ball against the Mets and knows that he is headed back to the bench when captain Derek Jeter comes off the disabled list. But when a second stringer on one team is more effective than the other’s starters, the separation cannot get any further.
Unfortunately for the Yankees, Nunez’s backup couldn’t come up with two routine ground balls and Ramiro Pena single-handedly caused the Yankees from winning their eighth consecutive game.
When Steinbrenner was alive, he treated any game versus the Mets as if it were for a title. Even the old Mayor’s Trophy Game would have him on the edge of his seat. So when interleague games became part of the baseball landscape in 1997, The Boss wanted nothing more than to come out ahead. That still holds true to some extent, but the Mets seem to be making it easy for the Yanks.
The walk-off win notwithstanding, the Mets looked overmatched against the team from the Bronx.