Subway Series sameness? Think again

NEW YORK -- As fun as it was to see a rematch of the 2009 World Series this week between the Yankees and Phillies, many people are even more excited about what will transpire this weekend at Yankee Stadium.

The Yankees and Mets will renew their rivalry once more, in the second half of this year's Subway Series -- and this set of games carries even more weight than the first.

On May 21 at Citi Field, prior to the Yanks and Mets hooking up for the first time in 2010, the Yankees were 25-16, in second place in the American League East, five games behind first-place Tampa Bay. They were coming off three straight disappointing losses at home to their chief division rivals -- one to the Red Sox, followed by two versus the Rays.

The Mets, meanwhile, limped in at 20-22, in last place in the National League East, losers of seven of their previous nine games.

The situation is different this time around. The Yankees are 41-25, tied for the best record in baseball with the Rays -- though they lost two in a row to close a home series with Philadelphia.

But the Mets, to the shock and awe of many, are even hotter than the Yankees: 38-28, having won 11 of their last 12 games, and just a half-game behind the first-place Atlanta Braves in the NL East.

Before the Yankees-Phillies finale, Bombers manager Joe Girardi was asked if this Subway Series will feel any different from the first one.

"I don't know how much it will change, because I still think the competitive nature is [always] there, because it's New York versus New York," Girardi said.

The pitching matchups for this weekend are identical to those in the first half of this year's Subway Series. Javier Vazquez will face Hisanori Takahashi on Friday, Phil Hughes will square off against Mike Pelfrey on Saturday and CC Sabathia will face Johan Santana on Sunday.

The only difference this time around: The Saturday and Sunday games will both be at 1:05 p.m. Back in May, the Saturday game was a late-afternoon game, and the Sunday game was at night.

And, of course, the outcomes could certainly be different. The Yankees nipped the Mets 2-1 in the series opener in May. But Pelfrey outpitched Hughes in the matchup of young studs on Saturday, and Santana was better than Sabathia in the battle of aces on Sunday.

Hughes and Sabathia undoubtedly would like to exact some revenge this weekend.

No matter what, it should be an intriguing three days in the Bronx. At some point during the weekend, it might even be a tangle of two first-place teams.

"It seems to be an excitement that the city really loves, no matter where the two teams are at," Girardi said. "But it could be a little bit more [intense], just because they're playing well and we've been playing well."

Kieran Darcy is a staff writer for ESPNNewYork.com. Follow him on Twitter.

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