Bombers feel spotlight suits Pettitte

Bombers feel spotlight suits Pettitte

NEW YORK -- Joe Girardi leaned back at his desk on Friday evening, a few minutes after the Yankees' Subway Series opener against the Mets was officially rained out, and mused that you can't fight Mother Nature.

Interesting, because that's about the only thing both New York teams haven't had to wage battle against this season. From injuries to controversy to underwhelming veterans, both sides of the Triboro Bridge have seen it en masse through the first quarter of the season.

Most of all, both the Yankees and the Mets would love to be able to use the remaining two games of this weekend series as a springboard toward the neighborhoods they'd been expected to inhabit.

Derek Jeter always leans on the crutch of insisting that the Subway Series isn't a big deal, but for two teams in need of victories as soon as possible, every game really is taking on greater importance.

"I think both teams want to win every day, so today is no different," Girardi said before Friday's washout. "Neither team is where they want to be, but you've got to start somewhere. It's a big series -- we're trying to turn it around, [and] they're trying to turn it around. It means a lot to both teams."

The Yankees, in particular, need to work toward escaping the American League East cellar. The last time they occupied last place as late as May 17 of any given season, it was 1975, and manager Bill Virdon was sending Doc Medich out to pitch against the A's at Shea Stadium. He lost.

Andy Pettitte will try to avoid that fate, taking his turn as expected on Saturday after the Yankees skipped Friday's washed-out starter, Darrell Rasner. Pettitte will be making his 17th regular-season start against the Mets and his 12th as a Yankee, looking to snap a three-start losing streak.

"In the past, we've done very well when he's in that big spotlight," Girardi said. "It's interesting. In the starts, he's had really good stuff. It's been one inning that's done him in. He usually starts off great. His start in Tampa [on Tuesday], the first inning was awesome. It was as good as I've seen him throw the ball all year. Then he ran into trouble. I think it will be good for Andy."

Even Jeter had to admit that playing in front of a packed house might be a benefit to the Yankees. It was earlier this week that Hank Steinbrenner criticized his team by suggesting they play with more energy. If they can't pick some up from a divided House pulling for opposite boroughs of New York, where can they?

"It's sort of like when you're playing Boston, people really get into it," Jeter said. "Maybe that'll jump-start us. That's what you'd like to think, but I'm sure [the Mets] are probably thinking the same thing. It's fun to play in that type of atmosphere."

Pitching matchup
NYY: LHP Andy Pettitte (3-4, 4.40 ERA)
Pettitte only lasted four innings in his last start, taking a rare defeat at Tropicana Field after he ran into trouble during a lengthy fourth inning. Escaping one bad inning has been a recent problem for Pettitte, who has lost his last three decisions after starting the year 3-1. Pettitte has made 16 starts against the Mets dating back to 1997, going 7-3 with a 3.42 ERA. He faced the Mets last May 18 at Shea Stadium, taking the loss after allowing three runs on five hits over seven innings in a 3-2 decision.

NYM: LHP Johan Santana (4-2, 3.10 ERA)
Santana allowed 10 hits -- that equaled his career high -- walked one and struck out five in six innings in his most recent start Saturday against the Reds. Despite being bothered by allergies, he threw 116 pitches. His stuff wasn't sharp, but the Mets won for the sixth time in his eight starts, including his five most recent outings.

Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez is set to begin a Minor League rehabilitation assignment on Saturday in St. Petersburg, playing in an extended spring game. If Rodriguez progresses as expected, he could rejoin the Yankees on Tuesday. ... Catcher Jorge Posada (right shoulder tendinitis) will throw again on the field on Saturday, and the Yankees hope he can begin some sort of competitive action by the end of the homestand. ... Shortstop Derek Jeter has a .381 (94-for-247) career batting average vs. the Mets, the highest all-time for any opponent of theirs (minimum 150 plate appearances). ... Carlos Delgado (.350, five homers, 17 RBIs, three doubles in 60 at-bats) and Carlos Beltran (.353, one homer, two RBIs, three doubles in 56 at-bats) have hit Pettitte particularly hard. David Wright (.385, one homer, two RBIs in 13 at-bats) is catching up.

 Buy tickets now to catch the game in person.

On the Internet
 Gameday Audio
•  Gameday
•  Official game notes

On television

On radio
• WCBS 880, WNSW 1430 (Español)

Up next
• Sunday: Mets (Oliver Perez, 3-3, 4.61) at Yankees (Chien-Ming Wang, 6-1, 2.90), 8:05 p.m. ET
• Monday: Off-day
• Tuesday: Yankees (Mike Mussina, 6-3, 3.99) vs. Orioles (Daniel Cabrera, 4-1, 3.58), 7:05 p.m. ET

Bryan Hoch is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.