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Mets show some life; no panic for Yanks

The Mets' Francisco Rodriguez and Jose Reyes celebrated

The Mets' Francisco Rodriguez and Jose Reyes celebrated their win over the Yankees on Sunday night. (May 23, 2010) Credit: Getty Images

At the carnival that is New York baseball, the Yankees are the ferris wheel. The Mets are the roller coaster.

What a ride all fans enjoyed these past three days, as Weekend I of the Subway Series concluded last night with Francisco Rodriguez striking out Alex Rodriguez for a 6-4 Mets victory. The Mets took the series two games to one, and Jerry Manuel apparently will live to manage for another series. The National League East-leading Phillies arrive Tuesday night.

The Yankees? They went 2-5 in their challenge week against the Red Sox (1-1), Rays (0-2) and Mets (1-2). Yet as Joe Girardi said after this latest loss, "The sun will come up tomorrow."

The Yankees operate, rightly, as though a bad week can be accepted and understood. The Mets live life more on the edge; a good week generates sheer joy and a bad week enough anxiety to keep Manhattan's psychologists thriving. There's no doubt which club leads the healthier lifestyle.

Constancy, the Yankees preach, now that George Steinbrenner is largely out of the picture. CC Sabathia will have a bad start every now and then, Mark Teixeira will slump and A-Rod will eventually lose a great battle. Yet the players' track records strongly suggest better times shortly ahead.

Thrills and spills! the Mets scream. Jason Bay, not long ago a huge bust, tripled his season home run output by going deep twice off Sabathia. Jose Reyes appears to be waking up. David Wright contributed more positive than negative.

Yet as late as Friday night, after the Mets dropped the opener, it appeared as though Manuel could start making Memorial Day barbecue plans near his Sacramento home.

Fittingly for this wacky weekend, we wake up this morning with the Mets (22-23) five games behind the Phillies (26-17) and the Yankees (26-18) six games behind the Rays (32-12).

Back around early February, before spring training began, a Mets official said to me (on condition of anonymity): "This looks like an iffy season for us. 'If we stay healthy, if we get the pitching . . .' "

They've been about as healthy as they could have hoped. Besides Carlos Beltran, the Mets have lost only Ryota Igarashi, John Maine and Jon Niese to the disabled list, and you really can't count Maine as a surprise.

The pitching? They've gotten it from Mike Pelfrey and Johan Santana, who won the final two games of this series, and some of the relievers. In general? No.

Nevertheless, as Manuel said, "We've got a few guys swinging the bats." The Mets should have something coming from their lineup, so they should be able to win a few high-scoring games.

Manuel didn't get too excited about momentum, as he revived the true cliche about momentum being the next day's starting pitcher.

R.A. Dickey and Hisanori Takahashi might be short-term upgrades over Oliver Perez and Maine, and Niese should be off the disabled list shortly.

But the quintet of Sabathia, A.J. Burnett, Andy Pettitte, Javier Vazquez and Phil Hughes is just plain good, which is why the Yankees can count on avoiding too many poor stretches.

Mets wins feel all the more satisfying for their fans because of the depths to which they routinely plunge. Yet they should yearn for the day when they don't regard a potential bad week as Armageddon in Flushing.

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