Yankees-Mets Preview

The last time the New York Mets and New York Yankees met this late in the season, it was in the 2000 World Series.

There's a possibility they could meet in the Fall Classic this year.

The Mets will host this weekend series, with the red-hot Yoenis Cespedes getting his first taste of this rivalry Friday night.

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This is the latest regular-season edition of the Subway Series, and there is plenty at stake for both teams. The Mets (83-63) have a comfortable NL East lead over Washington while the Yankees hold the AL's top wild card as they try to catch first-place Toronto in the East.

"A lot's been made of this weekend coming up," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "It's now here so now we've got to get ready for it."

The Yankees (80-65) won't have Alex Rodriguez in the lineup this weekend, with no designated hitter at Citi Field. They took two of three at home in April from the Mets, who did not have Cespedes.

Acquired July 31 from Detroit, Cespedes has become one of baseball's biggest stories. He has 17 homers and 42 RBIs in 43 games with the Mets, giving him totals of 35 and 103.

The slugger has gone consecutive games without a homer after connecting nine times in 13 games to start the month. The Mets are seeking to avoid their first three-game losing streak since Aug. 14-16.

The Mets lineup will also look different to the Yankees since David Wright and Travis d'Arnaud were out with injuries for the April series and Juan Uribe had yet to be acquired.

Collins compared facing the Yankees to his club's three-game sweep at Washington last week that gave the Mets a commanding division lead.

"We need to approach it like it's the Washington Nationals walking in here," he said. "Look, it's a game we've got to go play, we're playing for something big, they are too. It's very similar to when we played the Nationals."

The Yankees will start Masahiro Tanaka (12-6, 3.40 ERA) on four days' rest for the fifth time and second occasion in a row after giving him extra rest through most of the year. Tanaka improved to 3-0 with a 2.54 ERA in his last four outings after seven innings of four-hit ball in Sunday's 5-0 victory over the Blue Jays.

"He's throwing the ball extremely well," manager Joe Girardi said. "We checked with him to see how he was, he said he felt good and that's why we're doing it. I know he hasn't done it a lot but we need him to pitch well for us."

The right-hander is 5-2 with a 1.97 ERA in seven career interleague starts including a four-hitter in a 4-0 road win over the Mets last year. Cespedes is 3 for 10 against him.

This will be a special outing for Steven Matz (3-0, 1.88), a Long Island native who grew up rooting for the Mets. He'll make his fifth start, third since returning off the disabled list and first in interleague play.

The left-hander allowed one run in five innings last Friday to earn a 5-1 victory at Atlanta.

He'll face an offense with some slumping hitters.

Brian McCann is hitting .194 in his last 10 games and Chase Headley is at .179 in his last 15. Brett Gardner and Jacoby Ellsbury each are hitting .204 since the All-Star break to rank among baseball's worst batters.