Subway Series Will Nip One Team's Budding Optimism

Mets and Yankees each righted ship in past two days

It's been a wild couple of weeks since the Mets and Yankees squared off in the Bronx. The Mets looked like the wheels had come off the bus as they piled up losses and injuries in what seemed like equal measure. Then came Carlos Beltran's injury, the perceived straw to break the camel's back wound up being the impetus for an impressive series with the Cardinals that saw the Mets take three of four games.

The Mets are just a half-game behind the Phillies, and passing them could make for some serious heart palpitations to the South. It would stop any questions about whether the Mets could stay afloat, and shift all the pressure on the Phillies and their own needs for reinforcements. That's a nice change for a Mets team that's been under the gun for the last two months.

The Yankees, on the other hand, seemed to forget how to use their bats after crushing Johan Santana and company for 15 runs in their final game with the Mets. Their offense took the next seven games off before finally returning on Wednesday and Thursday night. Scoring 19 runs in two nights has a way of making problems disappear, especially when Alex Rodriguez drives in six of them.

It was just in time, as any extended string of losses could quickly find the Yankees in fourth place looking up at Toronto and Tampa as well as the Red Sox. The one silver lining through the losing stretch is that their starting pitching has been quite strong, so if the offense is back there could be another winning streak in the offing.

It's almost a shame that the two teams are going to square off this weekend because it means that one of them is going to see their good feelings splattered like a bug on a windshield.

The Mets would have to resume wondering if they can survive long enough to make their season count for something, while the Yankees would restore faith in the belief that they are too inconsistent and disjointed to count on over the long haul. All of that's set against the backdrop of the end of the first half, and the official end of the time you can say that there's a lot of baseball left.

Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City and is a contributor to and in addition to his duties for

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