Beginning tonight, the Mets and Yankees will resume the Subway Series with three games at Citi Field. This will mark the 41st series between the two teams since interleague play began in 1997. Thus far, the Yankees have won 66 of the 112 games played.
As the Series enters its 21st year, there has rarely been a sense that the two teams are going in opposite directions, which is the case this year with the mighty Yankees matched up against a team which has lost six straight and is coming off a sweep at the hands of the Baltimore Orioles. The Yankees, however, have won seven of their last eight and are near the top of most offensive categories with their potent lineup.
On paper, this series is a mismatch. The Mets have scored ninety-nine fewer runs than the Yankees and rank among the worst teams in baseball at hitting, while the Yankees rank among the very best. Since May 1, the Mets are 10-23 and have been shut out five times while being held to three or fewer runs in an astounding twenty-one of thirty-three games. While the starting pitching for the Mets has largely been effective, their anemic offense has failed to support the efforts of the staff. But the Subway Series is not played on paper and has been known to produce unusual plays and unexpected outcomes. In 2004 at Shea Stadium, the unexpected occurred.
The Yankees were coming off a sweep of their six games with the Mets in 2003, and with the two teams mostly unchanged in 2004, a similar result was expected The first three games were played at Yankee Stadium, and the Bombers took two of three from the Mets. The second three-game set took place at Shea over a July 4th holiday weekend. The Mets were a .500 team at 39-39, while the Yankees were 50-27, leading the AL East by 8.5 games.
The first game was a Mets blowout, as they defeated the Yanks 11-2 in a game featuring two homers by Kaz Matsui and another from Richard Hidalgo as part of a 14-hit attack. Steve Trachsel out-pitched Mike Mussina for the win. The second game has been called the most exciting victory the Mets had in 2004, a 10-9 walk-off win. Cliff Floyd, Ty Wiggington, and Richard Hilalgo all homered for the Mets in a game where the Yankess led three separate times. The winning run came courtesy of a weak grounder by Shane Spencer. As Kaz Matsui crossed the plate with the winning run, the team mobbed Spencer as if he had just won the Mets a championship.
And finally, on July 4, on none other than George Steinbrenner’s 74th birthday, the Mets completed the sweep with a 6-5 win as Ty Wiggington homered off of Tom Gordon to lead the Mets to victory. The three-game sweep enabled the Mets to win the season series against the Yankees for the first time winning four of the six games.
The Yankees went on to the ALCS that year, while the Mets finished 20 games under .500. But for one weekend, the Flushing faithful had reason to smile. The Subway Series produced yet another unexpected turn. To call this year’s version a mismatch might be fair based this season’s performance, but time and time again this series has shown that “past performance does not guarantee future results.”