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The New York Yankees defeated the New York Mets 9-3 Sunday after a huge seventh inning to take the first leg of the Subway Series and tie the Tampa Bay Rays for first place in the AL East.
The six games between the Mets and Yankees are always some of the most looked-forward to games of the entire season by fans in New York. No matter how the teams seemed to have been playing before, the stakes rise with pride and bragging rights on the line.
Since 2000 when the two teams met in the World Series, the games have only gotten more intense. Countless unforgettable moments make this series so much more than just a few games in the standings.
Fans will always remember the feud between former Mets’ catcher Mike Piazza and Yankees pitcher Roger Clemens which resulted in a hard fastball to Piazza’s head.
The Mets’ faithful will of course never be able to live down Luis Castillo’s error on a routine fly ball off the bat of Alex Rodriguez in the bottom of the ninth inning to lose the series in June of 2009.
It seems as though when these two teams get together, there are bound to be fireworks. Unfortunately, all we had heard about these teams early-on in the 2011 season had to do with abundant struggles and big problems that needed to be addressed to turn their seasons around.
This series showed signs that such rash judgments may have been a bit premature.
The Yankee captain Derek Jeter came up big amidst his struggles, driving a two-rbi single up the middle to tie the game in the bottom of the 7th, sparking a monstrous eight run inning for the Bronx Bombers en route to victory.
The Yanks welcomed their hot inning, since they are so often criticized for only being able to score via Home Runs (most of which from the bat of the red-hot Curtis Granderson), and their lack of ability to play “small-ball” and manufacture runs. These criticisms are quite unfair.
As any baseball fan knows, teams always seem to hit better in the summer months when the whether gets better and the new players on the team (which the Yankees have plenty of) get a chance to become accustomed to their new surroundings.
Yankee fans need not worry, their team will be fine. Judgments of a team by their mediocre record in May must come with a grain of salt. Not to mention they are perched atop one of the toughest divisions in Major League Baseball, and have a better record than the Boston Red Sox who were deemed the favorites in the entire American League after all of their off-season acquisitions.
Injuries have really bitten both teams early on in the 2011 season. Yankee manager Joe Girardi is patiently awaiting returns from pitchers Phil Hughes and huge free agent pick-up, Rafael Soriano, who should bolster a pitching staff that when healthy, can be scary for opposing lineups.
In Queens, first year manager Terry Collins has had to deal with star players David Wright, Jason Bay, and Angel Pagan see stints on the DL, not to mention waiting for left-handed ace Johan Santana to return from off-season shoulder surgery.
All things considered, Collins has done a fine job so far in his first go-around in New York. Jose Reyes is having a career year, Carlos Beltran seems to be healthy again for the first time in nearly two-seasons, and knuckleballer R.A. Dickey seems to have become a fan favorite, holding down a seriously depleted pitching staff.
Coming into the 2011 season the Mets did not seem to have very high expectations, and yet they find themselves hovering right around .500, with a renewed attitude that could carry them into a fight for a wild-card spot in the National League should things go their way.
If nothing else, this series proved that the Mets could at least hang with one of the better teams in the league, even on the road.
As for the Yankees, winning this series may be a small victory in terms of the standings, but it was a bigger sign for fans, proving that this teams struggles are not permanent. The team must adjust to now being one of the older teams in the league, and with that, must come the knowledge that losing streaks happen. They have proven winners, veterans, and a solid mix of young talent that should allow them to make yet another run at a World Series title this season.
All in all, good things seem to be on the horizon for both New York ball-clubs. As summer begins, look for the bats to heat up, and both teams to compete night in and night out. There’s no quit in New York.