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After two incentive-laden pitchers crafted an unlikely masterpiece duel, Subway Series fans are wondering what can be expected from a pair of hurlers who have absolutely no bones to pick.
In Friday's 2-1 win, the Yankees' Javier Vazquez needed to show he can handle a pressure-cooker, even if it's only of the interborough variety. The Mets' Hisanori Takahashi wanted to show 35 was not too old to be making one's first Major League start.
Well played by both, even though Vazquez's evening was cut short by the Interleague bane of American League pitchers -- wielding a bat, with which the ball sandwiched his finger as he tried to lay down a seventh-inning sacrifice bunt.
Now here come Phil Hughes and Mike Pelfrey, who don't trail any baggage into their match in Saturday night's middle game of the series. Beyond the hiccup in his most recent start, Hughes has been the Yankees' most consistent pitcher. And while the Mets have won only six games in May, Pelfrey started two of those contests.
As if that wasn't "bad" enough, the guys actually appear to like and respect each other, a residue of their frequent Minor League duels. What is this rivalry coming to?
Speaking of Pelfrey, Hughes noted that "he's got a great arm. He's throwing his changeup and two-seamer. This year, he's really taught himself how to pitch."
Whoever taught Hughes did a fine job. He enters this start with a 5-0 record -- the Yankees have won six of his seven starts -- and an ERA of 2.25.
Vazquez's brilliance answered a call Hughes also intends to heed. Injuries to key players have taken a few calibers out of the Yankees' offense.
"We just have to weather the storm with the injuries," Hughes said, "and our starters have to pick up the slack."
Even though they're playing on the "road," however, the Yankees didn't have to pack their bags. The club is now 13-3 in New York, counting Citi Field.
"I like it," Hughes said of the Subway Series, on the eve of his first start against the Mets. "It's like an extra three games of a homestand. It's always good to get three nights at home, but they count on the road."
Yankees: Hughes owns Mets
Current Mets hitters have combined to go 2-for-14 against Hughes, who has appeared twice in relief against them. ... Curtis Granderson will begin a rehab assignment on Saturday with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre that is expected to last a week before he rejoins the Yankees; he has been on the disabled list since May 2 with a strained left groin. ... Vazquez's misadventure at bat certainly can't be attributed to his unfamiliarity being in the batter's box -- he has spent more seasons in the National League (nine) than the AL and last year had 91 plate appearances with the Braves while leading the Majors with 20 sacrifice bunts.
Mets: Dessens joins bullpen corps
Friday's losing pitcher in relief, Elmer Dessens, had been recalled from Triple-A Buffalo earlier in the day to occupy the roster spot that opened up when John Maine was put on the disabled list with a weakened right shoulder. ... Righty Ryota Igarashi (left hamstring) began his Buffalo rehab assignment with one scoreless inning on Friday night. ... Second baseman Luis Castillo, who is dealing with a bruised heel, was out of the starting lineup Friday, but he entered as a pinch-runner in the ninth inning.
Both teams' catchers are setting offensive paces. The Mets' Rod Barajas (10) and Henry Blanco (one) have more homers at that position than any other NL team, and even with Jorge Posada (.326) on the shelf, Francisco Cervelli (.357) is helping the Yanks maintain the Majors' best team average (.338) behind the plate.