Nobody expected this kind of a run out of the New York Mets. It’s just one of those hot streaks that has come out of nowhere to propel the Mets to the top of the NL.

Entering play tonight, the Mets are 38-28, one-half game behind the Atlanta Braves for both first place in the NL East, and the best record in the NL. They are tied for the fourth most wins in the Major Leagues, and have stormed to elite territory.

But with winning games and taking advantage of the bottom-feeding Baltimore Orioles and Cleveland Indians, comes the test of proving yourselves against baseball’s best (record-wise).

The Yankees sit tied for first in the AL East with the Tampa Bay Rays, who just lost a series to the Braves, both teams with records of 41-25, three better than the Mets.

It’s setting up pretty nicely for the Mets. The drama is building by the game, as the Mets have set everyone up for surprise, and now get the right team to try and prove they’re for real again.

The Mets have improved their road record with these six consecutive wins against the Orioles and Indians, from 8-18 to a much more respectable 14-18, inching closer towards the .500 mark.

They say great teams play .500 on the road and over at home, where the Mets have done that at 24-10. If they can ever win this series from the Yankees, they’d gain respect from just about everyone.

This game will be pretty interesting from both starting pitchers’ standpoints. It’s a rematch of the first game between the two teams in May at Citi FieldHisanori Takahashi for the Mets, and Javier Vazquez for the Yankees.

From Takahashi’s standpoint, this game may be tougher than the last against the Yankees, whom he shutout over six innings in his first Major League start.

The Yankees, though, have always had trouble beating guys they’ve never seen before, but normally get to them a second time around. This time, Takahashi will be pitching against them at the bandbox that is Yankee Stadium, and the long ball might bite him.

Takahashi has given up some home runs lately, and you can look for long ball contributions out of Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, and Mark Teixeira. He’ll have to keep the ball down against those right-handed power hitters to be effective in this game.

Meanwhile, from Vazquez’s point of view, the Mets may hit him this time around. Just like the Yankees, the Mets saw this pitcher before, when Vazquez threw a gem against the Mets in that Yankees game one victory.

Back then, the Mets, well, were a different team. On May 21, the start of the Citi Field part of the Subway Series, the Mets were 20-23, last place, seven games out of first place. Now, they are 38-28 (18-5 since then), second place, one-half game out of first place.

Part of the Mets losing ways was their lack of offensive aggression. They would take a whole bunch of pitches and allow opposing pitchers to get ahead early in counts, leading to many strikeouts, especially from David Wright.

Now, as an offense with a different approach, they are aggressive early in at-bats, swinging on first or second pitches, and getting hits. Unless Vazquez can counter by throwing breaking balls early in at-bats, he may be in for a long night, especially the way the Mets are hitting and at a bandbox.

This may be one of those games that comes down to the bullpens, with both pitchers being knocked out early, and the Mets may have the advantage before the closer’s spot. Joba Chamberlain and company haven’t been great for the Yankees, while the Mets relievers have been getting the job done.

Everyone in the Mets lineup is hitting, from Jose Reyes down to Ruben Tejada, with everyone in between. The Yankees, after shellacking Roy Halladay, have gone cold, and have some injury concerns regarding Jorge Posada’s foot and Alex Rodriguez’s leg.

This should be a tough game for both teams, with both at or near the top of their respective divisions. It’ll be fun to watch and the series only gets better from here with four great pitchers starting in the next two games.

Hisanori Takahashi vs. New York Yankees (May 21)
ND, 6 IP, 0 ER, 5 hits, 1 BB, 5 SO

Javier Vazquez vs. New York Mets (May 21)
Win, 6 IP, 0 ER, 1 hit, 2 BB, 6 SO

Mets vs. Yankees 2010 season series:

Mets lead series, 2-1

May 21: New York Yankees 2, New York Mets 1
May 22: New York Mets 5, New York Yankees 3
May 23: New York Mets 6, New York Yankees 4

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