Whether they admit to feeling anything special, the Mets and Yankees agree they can't ignore the charge the fans provide in the Subway Series. And with the Mets' Johan Santana making his first start since his franchise-first no-hitter exactly a week ago, the voltage Friday night at Yankee Stadium will be palpable.
"The fans are so into it, especially this year," Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira said before the Yankees faced AL East rival Tampa Bay Thursday night. "The Mets are having a great year, and facing Johan is going to be electric, his first start after the no-hitter. It's just going to be a great atmosphere in the ballpark."
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Mets manager Terry Collins originally planned to juggle his rotation to allow Santana to pitch against NL East leader Washington, which took two from the Mets before losing the series finale Thursday. But because Santana threw a career-high 134 pitches while no-hitting St. Louis, Collins opted to give him six days' rest.
"I know he's good and healthy and ready to go," Collins said. "It will be fun. I don't like interleague play, but this is why you have it -- so two teams in one city can get everybody in town excited."
Collins said his players "are revved up for sure." He hopes his veterans will calm down the newcomers to the event.
Mets lefthanded-hitting slugger Lucas Duda will be making his first appearance at the Stadium with its inviting rightfield porch. Asked if he has a scouting report, Duda understated, "It's going to be crowded."
Second baseman Daniel Murphy said veteran Mets just treat the Subway Series as a "three-game set against a very good club." But he had no trouble coming up with his personal memorable moment. "I hit a home run off Freddy Garcia," Murphy said of his game-winning drive in the Mets' 2-1 win May 20, 2011. "That was pretty exciting."
By nature, baseball players focus on their own team, but Yankees reserve Eric Chavez said he and some of his teammates gathered around a television in the clubhouse to watch Santana last Friday after the Yankees' game in Detroit ended. "We saw the last inning and a half of it," Chavez said. "It was pretty cool.
"Once somebody gets to that point, everybody starts to pull for him whether he plays for the Mets or whoever. It was the first in their history, right? Any time you do something like that, it's very special."
At the same time, Chavez suggested it will be tough for Santana to follow his gem with a similar effort because of the natural letdown. "But I'm sure he'll be up for the challenge," Chavez added. "We're just going to have to stay off that changeup and try to hit that fastball."
Yankees captain Derek Jeter said it doesn't matter whether Santana is coming off a no-hitter or a 20-hitter. "He's always been a great pitcher," Jeter said. "We've had many battles when he was with Minnesota, playoffs, when he's been with the Mets, interleague. He's always a guy you admire from afar. You enjoy competing against him. He likes to pitch in games like this, so I'm pretty sure he'll be ready. I've always respected him as a pitcher."
Jeter added that records don't matter when it comes to Yankees-Mets. "It's always fun games," he said, "and it's always competitive."
But the Mets' Jason Bay, who used to play for Boston, said the intracity competition still doesn't compare to Yankees-Red Sox. "That's a rivalry," Bay said. "When you're playing at Yankee Stadium, there are a few Mets fans. There's no Red Sox fans. That's the big difference."
With Mark Macyk