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Five keys to the Subway Series

New York Mets' David Wright sits in the

New York Mets' David Wright sits in the dugout during a baseball game against the Washington Nationals. (May 19, 2010) Credit: AP

The mighty pen

The Mets' bullpen - non-Fernando Nieve Division - is performing better than the Yankees', but Yankees skipper Joe Girardi is far superior to his Mets counterpart Jerry Manuel at managing the relievers. So who prevails in the late innings? The team that doesn't know what it's doing yet does it somewhat well, or the club that pushes the right buttons, only to see those buttons misfire?

From the top

If you combined the May OPS of leadoff hitters Derek Jeter (.264 OBP, .228 SLG) and Jose Reyes (.213, .234) entering last night's action, you don't get 1.000. That's beyond dreadful. The Yankees have managed to score runs despite Jeter's struggles, while Reyes' awful hitting has crippled the Mets. If Jeter breaks out, this could be an ugly Mets weekend. If Reyes breaks out, then the Mets would have a fighting chance.

The right stuff

Tonight's starting pitching matchup is particularly interesting. You have Javier Vazquez, whose intestinal fortitude has been questioned, going for the Yankees, and Hisanori Takahashi, whose competitiveness is regarded as his top characteristic, going for the Mets. The Yankees skipped Vazquez against the Red Sox and Rays, figuring he'd fare better against the Mets. The Mets figure Takahashi can handle anything thrown his way. It's the clear wild-card game of this series.

Trading places

Remember how the game used to have a way of finding Alex Rodriguez, and often making him look bad? Now David Wright seems to have that affliction. Back at Citi Field, where he doesn't hit as well and where the fans have grown impatient with his travails, how will Wright perform when the big moment tracks him down? At this point, you expect good things from A-Rod in such settings.

Home sweet home?

It's easy to forget, given what transpired in the last week, but the Mets do own a 14-8 record at Citi Field this season. They seemed to grow comfortable with the ballpark's vast dimensions, and its nooks and crannies. Can they use that extra confidence to their advantage? Recall that last year, the Yankees swept a broken-down Mets team in Flushing.

Predictions: The Mets will win tonight's opener, 5-4, and Saturday night, 6-2, before falling in Sunday night's finale, 4-2.

New York Sports