The New York Yankees and New York Mets begin the latest incarnation of the Subway Series when the teams meet at Yankee Stadium Friday night at 7:05 p.m. ET. The teams enter the series more evenly matched than anyone thought they might be at the beginning of the 2012 MLB season.
Friday's game will be televised on SNY, MLB Network and MY9.
The Yankees are 31-25, a half-game behind the Baltimore Orioles and Tampa Bay Rays in the American League East. The fact that the Yankees are in a pennant race is a surprise to no one. The fact that they are behind Baltimore, albeit by just a half-game, at this point in the season most definitely is a surprise.
The Mets are 32-26, just 1.5 games behind the Washington Nationals in the National League East. The Mets were not expected to compete this season after losing star shortstop Jose Reyes to the Miami Marlins via free agency, but they have been a surprising feel-good story thus far in 2012.
With the Mets playing well and not simply playing out the string of yet another wasted season a little spice -- and importance -- has been added to this weekend's series.
"I think it does," said Yankees manager Joe Girardi. "You look at both divisions and they're very similar. It seems like where you are in the division can change in three days dramatically, and I think that makes it interesting. [The Mets] are playing well."
Something else that adds spice to Friday's game is the fact that Johan Santana (3-2, 2.38 ERA) is pitching for the Mets. Santana pitched the first no-hitter in Mets franchise history in his last outing, one week ago against the St. Louis Cardinals. The Mets gave him two extra days off following the 134-pitch effort, and that set him up to open the Subway Series.
"Facing Johan [on Friday] is going to be electric," said Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira. "He can't get any better. Well, he could pitch a perfect game. We just have to be really sharp because if you expand the zone against Johan, he's going to be tough. When he's on his game, he's one of the best in baseball."
The Yankees counter with veteran right-hander Hiroki Kuroda (4-6, 3.82).
Pitching matchups for the rest of the series are as follows:
Saturday: Phil Hughes, Yankees (5-5, 4.96) vs. Dillon Gee, Mets (4-3, 4.38)
Sunday: Andy Pettitte, Yankees (3-2, 2.78) vs. Jon Neise, Mets (4-2, 4-11).