Yankees lefty C.C. Sabathia, left, takes on Mets righty R.A....

Yankees lefty C.C. Sabathia, left, takes on Mets righty R.A. Dickey in Game 3 of the second round of the 2012 Subway Series. Credit: AP

In the Yankees' clubhouse, the Subway Series can engender a ho-hum, "been there, done that'' feeling with some players.

Mark Teixeira isn't among them.

"It's always exciting, the fans are so into these games," Teixeira said Thursday morning at an event at Grand Central Terminal. "They always show up, they're always loud. And we play for the fans. That's why we have jobs, because fans come out to watch us play. We really enjoy the Subway Series from a competitive standpoint, too, because this year especially, you have two really good teams playing each other."

The Yankees earned a sweep the first time around, June 8-10 at the Stadium, hitting four home runs off Johan Santana in a 9-1 blowout in the first game, then slipping past the Mets, 4-2, in the second game and 5-4 in the third.

The sweep was supposed to be the start of a death spiral for the Mets -- the expectation several times this season -- but instead they come in 38-32 after a three-game sweep of the Orioles. They are 31/2 games behind the first-place Nationals in the NL East.

The Yankees (41-27) have lost two straight, but that's after winning 10 in a row. They lead the Orioles by 2 1/2 games and the Rays by 31/2 and have the second-best record in the American League.

"My thought was when we were in the 10-game winning streak, I didn't think we were going to win 100 in a row," Joe Girardi said. "You put these two behind you, you move on and you go try and win a series against the Mets."

It's a series with three intriguing pitching matchups.

Friday night it's Andy Pettitte (3-2, 2.77) against Jon Niese (4-3, 3.82), followed by Ivan Nova (9-2, 4.32) against Chris Young (1-1, 3.06) Saturday night.

That sets the stage for the headliner Sunday night on national television, when CC Sabathia (9-3, 3.55) takes on the sport's hottest pitcher, R.A. Dickey (11-1, 2.00), who is coming off back-to-back one-hitters. Dickey did not pitch in this year's first Subway Series. In his last six starts, he has a 0.18 ERA and a 0.53 WHIP, having allowed only 21 hits and five walks in 482/3 innings with 63 strikeouts.

"I'm watching something very special right now," Johan Santana said of Dickey.

Teixeira is close friends with Dickey, a former teammate with the Rangers.

"It's so impressive," Teixeira said. "I love to see it as a friend of R.A.'s. I'm so happy for him. But I hope he has a little hiccup on Sunday night because he's just been so dominant. I don't want to be on the other side of that."

Dickey doesn't make much of the individual matchup with Sabathia.

"It's never me versus that guy," Dickey said. "It's me versus myself and me versus the opponent. It will be me versus him for as many at-bats as he comes up. I think the key is more with me than with them. If I'm able to execute what I want to do, I'll have success. If I don't execute what I want to do, they'll have success. Sometimes it's that simple."

The Yankees' success in the Bronx against the Mets was fairly simple: They hit a lot of home runs -- eight in the three games.

"It's a challenge," Terry Collins said. "Last weekend when we were there, we let one get away for sure. They're playing great.

"Our ballpark plays a little different from theirs. Yankee Stadium is a great place for their team, and for the fans, there's a lot of home runs hit. They can hit them out of here, too, but it's just not quite as easy as it is over there. They've got enough power to hit them out of any ballpark in the country. What we've got to do here is make some pitches and keep the ball on the field, if we can."

With Nick Klopsis, Mark Herrmann and Tom Pedulla


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