As a Yankees fan raised in Connecticut, Mets phenom Matt Harvey estimates he made approximately half a dozen trips to New York City while he was growing up to watch Subway Series games in person.
On Monday, he took in the Mets' series-opening victory against his former favorite team from the home dugout at Citi Field. On Tuesday night, Harvey will get his best view yet of the rivalry as he takes the mound opposite right-hander Hiroki Kuroda.
Despite his childhood allegiance and the intense nature of the Subway Series, Harvey insists his only focus Tuesday is on helping the Mets win their second straight game against the Yankees at Citi Field before the four-game set shifts to Yankee Stadium on Wednesday.
"We need wins, that's the biggest thing. It doesn't matter who's stepping in the box or who we're playing against," Harvey said. "We need these wins. We need to get on a roll. That's the biggest focus. It just so happens to be the Yankees. If we can get a couple wins out of this or a sweep, then that's what we need."
As much as Harvey has been looking forward to facing the Yankees for the first time, some of the Yanks have felt that same excitement about squaring off against the 24-year-old pitching sensation. Veteran outfielder Vernon Wells admitted he has been keeping tabs on Harvey -- who he says has "electric stuff" -- and has anticipated the showdown for the past couple of weeks.
"I kind of did the matchups two weeks ago and figured he's most likely going to be in there. Four games, you figure you're going to end up getting him," Wells said. "Like I said, I think everyone in here enjoys facing guys like that just to either make one end of the highlight reel, whether you're punching out or getting a hit. We'll see what happens."
Though Harvey has notched just one win since rattling off four in as many outings to start the season, he has still allowed two runs or fewer in all but two of his 10 trips to the mound this season. As scary as Harvey can be on the mound, Yankees manager Joe Girardi is also worried about what the phenom will do against his club with a bat in his hands.
Harvey has just three hits in 20 at-bats this season, but hit .333 (6-for-18) in limited action in 2012.
"I actually watched his first start on TV last year and was very impressed," Girardi said. "I have a friend who's a Mets fan. I said, 'You know what, the other thing is, this kid can hit.' I was not only impressed with his pitching. I said, 'Man, he's got some kind of swing.'"
As for Harvey's pitching, Girardi added: "Obviously, his stuff speaks for itself, but he really looks like he knows how to pitch."
Yankees: Joba set to be activated on Tuesday
Reliever Joba Chamberlain plans to return from the disabled list prior to Tuesday night's game.
The right-hander, on the DL with a left oblique strain since May 1, threw two innings in an extended spring training game on Saturday in Tampa, Fla., without any issues. Chamberlain will re-assume his seventh-inning role out of the bullpen upon his return, according to Girardi.
"If you can throw 95, 96 [mph] at 10:30 in the morning, usually it should be OK," Chamberlain said on Monday. "It's one of those things where we wanted to make sure in between the innings, see how it reacted, just in case that would happen. I feel great."
Mets: Tejada back in leadoff spot
Shortstop Ruben Tejada went 0-for-4 in his return to the leadoff spot on Monday night, but manager Terry Collins believes he's the Mets' best fit for the role.
Tejada's first 16 starts this season came with him batting seventh or lower in the lineup before making his leadoff debut on April 23. He then made 15 of his next 17 starts batting either first or second in the Mets' order. With his continued struggles at the plate, however, Tejada had more recently shifted back to the eight-hole until Saturday, when he hit second against the Braves before batting leadoff in Monday's series opener.
"We've kind of looked at some different things, and as we move forward, he's got to be the guy that leads off for us," Collins said. "Ruben's just going to have to step up, work hard on getting on base and getting back to hitting line drives."
The Mets have already used seven different players in the leadoff role, all of whom have combined for a .196 batting average and .261 on-base percentage -- both National League worsts.
• Kuroda is just 2-5 with a 4.81 ERA in eight career starts against the Mets. Last season, however, he allowed just one hit over seven shutout innings in his lone start against them as a member of the Yankees.
• The Mets are looking to win their first season series against the Yankees since 2008, when they won four of six meetings. The Yankees have turned in a 17-8 Subway Series record since.