Today is May 21 and for the second year in a row on this date, the Yankees are playing the Mets. Last year, it was Javier Vazquez on the mound in one of his finest moments as a Yankee. Five years ago on this date, the Mets were winners over the Yankee at Shea Stadium when Carlos Delgado and David Wright hit home runs off Aaron Small.
Small was like R.A. Dickey for the Yankees back then but the follow-up to a 10-0 2005 season did not end well, similiar to how Dickey had struggled until last night.
Speaking of struggles, the Yankees have lost six straight home games and this is the second skid of that length since the 95-loss 1990 season. The other was during this in May 2003 when the Yankees dropped eight straight May 16-26, 2003, a stretch that included a four-game sweep to the Toronto Blue Jays.
That time was a go for the bats and so has this stretch for the Yankees, who have dropped 11 of 17 overall, going from eight games over .500 to just three games over. The stretch has featured errors, poor situational hitting and occassionally poor pitching though you can't fault Freddy Garcia for his performance last night.
Garcia will have a seat tonight as A.J. Burnett tries to keep that ERA below four. A year ago, it was at 3.83 but with another start like Monday's it could soar over four. That night in Tampa Bay, Burnett allowed season worsts of six runs and eight hits in 5 2/3 innings while blowing a four-run lead.
Burnett is one of those who have played for both organizations though he never pitched in the major leagues for the Mets, who traded him three years after selecting him with their eighth-round selection in 1995.
Burnett will face a Met lineup that has enjoyed mixed results. For example Jason Bay is 8-for-21 (.381) against Burnett, Carlos Beltran is 5-for-19 (.263) but Jose Reyes is hitless in 17 at-bats.
In earlier posts this season, Burnett's changeup has been discussed. He has thrown that pitch 70 times but just 29 times this month and in starts against the Rays and Royals, it was thrown 16 and eight times respectively.
If he does throw it, it might be because of what is contained in scouting reports showing what Met hitters do against changeups coming from right-handed pitching.
Those reports might indicate that Reyes is a .227 hitter against that pitch. They might show that Bay hits .123 against the pitch and they might also indicate that Beltran is a .223 hitter off that pitch.
Elsewhere with the Yankees, the topic of Robinson Cano was brought up. In recent games, Cano's defense has not been the greatest and his error last night was his fourth - one more than last night.
But manager Joe Girardi said that was not a big deal and it's not right now because it could be one of those phases. But if that continues much like the situational hittinng issue that has plagued the team recently, it could be worth noting.
That lineup will feature Alex Rodriguez as the DH, where he is a .296 hitter. Rodriguez is 7-for-18 in his last four games and will try to avoid hitting grounders to Reyes this time.
The rest of the Yankee lineup will try their luck against Chris Capuano. Capuano's experience against the Yankees is limited and not very good. That was six years ago in Milwaukee when he allowed seven runs in four innings and that included a three-run home run to Rodriguez.
At that time, the Yankees had dropped nine of 10. Their performance against Capuano was the first of eight wins in 11 games that culiminated with a 20-run performance at the Stadium against the Rays.