Thursday, May 19, 2005

Warm up your Metrocards

When the Yankees were swept by the Mets at Shea for the first time ever, that should have been the first clue to Yankee fans that the 2004 season wasn't going to end any better than the 2001-2003 seasons. No one knew it would be a collapse of epic proportions, but when you think about it, that sweep wound up saying more about the Yankees than about the Mets.

And thus sets up the first of two annual clashes between the Evil Empire, and the team that aspires to be the 2005 Jedi Knights. Let's take a quick look at the pitching matchups:

Friday: Kevin Brown (2-4, 6.08) vs. Victor Zambrano (2-3, 5.45)

At first glance, this matchup would seem like the recent episode of South Park, where all the little league teams try purposely to lose so they wouldn't have to spend their whole summer playing baseball. But a quick look at the matchups show that Zambrano has had a level of past success against the Yankees. Oddly enough, the most successful Yankee vs. Zambrano is Jason Giambi, with a .296 lifetime average (8 for 27) with 3 HR's. Most likely, there will be no room for Giambi in the order with National League rules prohibiting the DH. Derek Jeter is hitting .226 (7 for 31), Hideki Matsui: .231 (6 for 26), Gary Sheffield: .250 (4 for 16), Bernie Williams: .130 (3 for 23), and Jorge Posada: .115 (3 for 26). With Zambrano's wildness this season, look for the Yankees to be patient and take their free passes. The Mets hope that the big stage will excite Zambrano and not scare him to death.

Brown is a different story. Only Cliff Floyd (.346) and Mike Piazza (.200), and pinch hitter Marlon Anderson (.154) have seen Brown for double digit at-bats, and Anderson will most likely not see Brown. Opposing batters are hitting .338 against him in 2005, so the Mets should be swinging from their heels.

Saturday: Randy Johnson (4-2, 3.77) vs. Kris Benson (1-1, 4.91):

This is the series the Mets need Joe McEwing. Little Mac wore Johnson out when Randy was with the Diamondbacks Alas, McEwing is a Royal now, but in the role of middle infielder who kills Johnson for the Mets now belongs to Miguel Cairo, who is 8 for 19 lifetime. Johnson is 6-3 with a 2.3 lifetime ERA against the Mets, with 85 K's in 66 innings.

Benson will make his first ever start against the Yankees on Saturday, but Tino Martinez is 5 for 10 lifetime off of him from his days with St. Louis. After the great start against Cincinnati on Monday for Benson, we'll see what the big stage does to him.

Sunday: Carl Pavano (3-2, 4.00) vs. Pedro Martinez (4-1, 3.38):

We've seen what Pedro can do on the big stage. But the question is, how healthy is Pedro? His start was pushed back to Sunday because of inflammation in his hip, and the Mets community is holding their breath because this is what most feared with Martinez...injuries. Lifetime, he's only 10-10 against the Yankees with a 3.24 ERA, but his numbers against the individuals are solid. Jeter: .234 (18 for 77 with 2 HR's), Rodriguez: .209 (9 for 43 with a HR), Tino Martinez: .236 (13 for 55), Hideki Matsui: .136 (3 for 22), Giambi: .167 (7 for 42), Bernie Williams: .197 (14 for 71 with 3 HR's). Gary Sheffield has hit Pedro well, .281 with 3 HR's in 32 AB's.

Pavano has seen the Mets plenty of times, lifetime 6-7 with a 3.75 ERA from his days with Montreal and Florida. Floyd and Piazza have the most at bats against him, and they are both doing well. Floyd is hitting .435 off Pavano with a HR in 23 at bats, and Piazza is hitting .368 with a HR in 38 at bats.

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