05/20/10 11:20 PM ET
Both Subway Series starters face test
By Doug Miller / MLB.com
So even beyond the typical fanfare associated with this year's first installment of the much-awaited Subway Series Interleague matchup between the crosstown rival New York Yankees and Mets, when the two teams meet on Friday night at Citi Field, there will be more than enough intrigue on the pitcher's mound.
For Vazquez, spotty form, high demands from the defending World Series champions and a beat-up bullpen contributed to a few skipped starts and a relief appearance in his most recent outing, when he got the win after retiring one hitter in the Yankees' walk-off victory against the Red Sox on Monday. That followed a promising no-decision against the Tigers last week.
And now Vazquez is back in the Yankees' rotation and should feel familiar pitching to the Mets after gaining years of experience in the National League, including a fantastic year for the Atlanta Braves in 2009.
For Vazquez, Friday night could end up being a big step toward renewed confidence as a second-time Yankee.
"It was frustrating," Vazquez said of being skipped and put in the bullpen. "I can't tell you it wasn't. I'd be lying if I told you I wasn't frustrated. You just try to stay as positive as you can. I know everybody in here was pulling for me. That's something that helps, when your teammates and the coaching staff are pulling for you."
The Mets will be pulling for Takahashi, their versatile reliever who gets the ball to take the place of injured starter Jon Niese.
Takahashi hasn't started in the big leagues, but the 35-year-old was previously a rotation stalwart in Japan, going 10-6 with a 2.94 ERA last season for the Yomiuri Giants of Japan's Central League. Two years earlier, he was 14-4 with a 2.75 ERA, throwing 186 2/3 innings. He says he knows what he has to do.
"It's going to be huge [amounts of] people in the stadium, and it's going to be more exciting," Takahashi said. "But I don't think about the fans or the atmosphere. I'll stay focused on the mound."
Takahashi will be limited to roughly 85 pitches on Friday night, and he gets the exciting task of facing the Yankees for the first time while making his inaugural big league start.
"I know that I'm facing the Yankees, it's the Subway Series and everybody is watching in New York," Takahashi said. "But baseball is baseball and I'll give my best effort."
Yankees: Jeter the man in Interleague
Shortstop Derek Jeter is the Majors' all-time Interleague leader in hits (303), at-bats (895) and runs scored (171). He also owns a .386 (110-for-285) batting average against the Mets, the best all-time against the Mets with a minimum of 150 plate appearances. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, that average is the third highest for any player against one team with a minimum of 200 at-bats, behind Vladimir Guerrero against the Rangers (.396) and Todd Helton against the Nationals/Expos (.387). ... Third baseman Alex Rodriguez is the all-time leader in Interleague RBIs with 163, and closer Mariano Rivera ranks first with 59 Interleague saves, having converted 15 straight chances and 34 of his past 35.
Mets: Reyes looking to heat up
Shortstop and leadoff man Jose Reyes is 3-for-19 (.158) over his past 12 games with runners in scoring position, but he was 1-for-1 in that situation in Thursday's 10-7 win over the Nationals. ... On Friday, third baseman David Wright snapped a streak of 15 games with at least one strikeout. He has struck out more than once in a game 14 times this year and leads the Majors with 55 whiffs.
The Yankees swept their road Interleague matchup against the Mets in 2009, 3-0, in their first visit to Citi Field. It marked their first series sweep in Queens since 2003. The Yankees were 17-16 in 33 games at Shea Stadium. They have won six of their past seven games in Queens and are 9-9 there since 2004. ... Mets infielder Alex Cora is batting .353 (6-for-17) over his past six games.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.