David Lennon is an award-winning columnist and author who has been a staff writer at Newsday since 1991.
The Yankees, unlike their insecure pals from across the RFK Bridge, have not messed with a single inch of the blue padded walls inside the Stadium. There's been no need. This ballpark, with such cozy dimensions, fits the Yankees as if it were an Armani suit.
Situational hitting? Who needs it? As long as someone isn't standing on second base, the Yankees look like the most dangerous team in baseball, and they flexed more of that muscle Saturday night to beat the Mets, 4-2.
After absorbing a pair of long-ball body blows from Omar Quintanilla and David Wright -- an unlikely power exacta, to say the least -- the Yankees waited around for someone to take a big hack at Dillon Gee. That someone turned out to be Mark Teixeira, who ripped a two-run homer into the rightfield seats, and later Curtis Granderson.
No surprise there. Eventually, the Yankees are going to go deep. Granderson's insurance blast was home run No. 90 -- the most in the majors -- through 58 games. That's almost twice as many as the Mets, who upped their total to 47, a number boosted dramatically by 11 already this month.
Asked later about the Yankees' power display, and if it made up for his team's .221 average with runners in scoring position, manager Joe Girardi made no attempt to hide his contempt for the subject. The Yankees did come up with two hits in those situations -- an RBI single by Alex Rodriguez and Teixeira's homer. But they also slipped to .156 with the bases loaded when Raul Ibañez grounded into a double play to end the first inning.
"We've talked about this until we're blue in the face," Girardi said. "The bottom line is we need to score runs. And yeah, we are better than what we've shown in those spots. But I think it's eventually going to change, and that's good for us."
Terry Collins wishes he had Girardi's problems. As long as the Mets continue to get next to nothing from Ike Davis, who hasn't homered in a month, the manager is going to suffer through plenty more nights like the past two at Yankee Stadium.
Unless, of course, the Mets finally choose to demote Davis, move Lucas Duda to first base and try their luck with different outfield alignments. Even then, Collins isn't convinced they can generate enough thunder from their roster when necessary.
"Well, the point is -- where's that guy come from?" Collins said. "Where is he? That guy is Ike Davis. Ike Davis has got as much power as anybody in the ballpark tonight. We've got to get him going."
The Mets have tried everything but a plane ticket to Triple-A Buffalo, and that has to be coming shortly if Davis doesn't turn it around quickly.
Before the Yankees feel compelled to kick sand in the Mets' faces, consider this: Their huge advantage in home runs has resulted in only one more victory than the 90-pound weaklings from Flushing. When kept in the yard, the Yankees are 0-12, the longest winless streak to begin a season in franchise history.
"You know what? I say let's be ourselves," Teixeira said. "This is a home run-hitting team. We have guys up and down our lineup who have been doing that for a long time. So we really shouldn't be changing the way we play the game."
What's kept the Mets alive? Timely hitting. They are hitting .256 with runners in scoring position, sixth in the NL, and .268 in those situations with two outs, which ranks second. It's helped that Wright is having an MVP-type season, but he can't continue to do it alone. With five homers in his last 10 games, Duda is shaping up to be a strong sidekick, but Collins has been holding his breath waiting for more bats to show up.
"We seem to be riding David pretty much solely," Collins said, "so we've got to get some guys to chip in. Singles don't win many games in this park."
That's become obvious. Not so obvious is the solution, and until that changes, the Mets can't go toe-to-toe with the Yankees in a longest-drive contest, as the last two days have shown.
On the bright side, the Bronx part of the Subway Series ends Sunday. The Mets must hope their custom-tailored Citi Field is more of an equalizer two weeks from now.