When the Subway Series last arrived in the Bronx on Aug. 22, the New York Mets and New York Yankees were division leaders and a combined 61 games over .500, resulting in buzz about the possibility of the intracity rivals meeting in the World Series
This year, the outlook is starkly different.
The host Yankees are six games over .500 and hoping to stay afloat in the American League wild-card race while the Mets try to inch closer to the break-even point as the teams get together for the opener of a two-game series Tuesday night
The teams split a pair of one-run games June 13-14. At the time, the Yankees were a little over a week into playing without Aaron Judge due to a torn ligament in his right toe, and the Mets had just started their rapid descent under .500
The Yankees are 14-17 since Nick Ramirez allowed a game-winning double to Brandon Nimmo in the 10th inning June 14. They dropped nine of 11 before completing a three-game weekend sweep of the Kansas City Royals with an 8-5 win on Sunday
Anthony Rizzo hit his first homer since May 20 and went 4-for-4, adding an RBI double and a pair of singles, after slumping for most of the past two months.
"A lot of great at-bats. A lot of tough outs," Giancarlo Stanton said after the Yankees scored 18 runs and finished with 24 hits in the series. "That's what builds games like this Just got to keep going.
The Yankees will try to keep it going against a team that likely will end up a seller at next week's trade deadline. Despite the highest payroll in baseball history, the Mets are guaranteed to be under .500 when the Aug. 1 trade deadline concludes
The Mets dropped the final two games in Boston and ended a three-game series with a 6-1 loss on Sunday night
"It's a big one. It's a big one for New York, and we want to win," Mets outfielder Mark Canha said of the Yankees series. "You always want to win that series. You always feel like the next series can be the one where we turn it around and that's how we keep approaching it.
After the Mets' pitching allowed 15 hits Sunday, Justin Verlander (4-5, 3.47 ERA) will make his second "Subway Series" start. Verlander took a no-decision June 14 when he allowed one run on three hits and threw 107 pitches in six innings
Verlander has allowed three runs or fewer in six of his past seven outings and is coming off one of his best showings of the year. In Wednesday's 5-1 home win over the Chicago White Sox, Verlander allowed one run on three hits and completed eight innings for the second time.
Verlander is 9-7 with a 3.37 ERA in 24 career starts against the Yankees
Domingo German (5-6, 4.52), who is 0-1 with a 4.41 ERA in three starts since his perfect game June 28 in Oakland, will start for the Yankees
German last pitched a week ago in a 5-1 loss to the host Los Angeles Angels, when he allowed five runs in six innings.
German is 2-1 with a 3.71 ERA in five career starts against the Mets
--Field Level Media