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Battle of New York one-sided affair so far

Dom Amore Hartford Courant

NEW YORK – The Yankees have hit bottom again, this time getting a friendly wave from the Mets as they passed them on the way down.

“You can only ask your players to do the best they can, and right now the best we can do is not good enough,” Yankees manager Joe Torre said after the Mets outhit and outhustled them again, winning 10-3 Saturday before 55,114 at Yankee Stadium. “We don’t feel very good about ourselves.”

Cliff Floyd, having a dynamic series, hit two long home runs for the Mets, and Tom Glavine pitched six solid innings. Rookie Sean Henn (0-3, 11.12 ERA) took another battering for the Yankees, whose pitching staff is in desperate shape.

“He has good stuff. He’s going to be a major league pitcher, but he’s not ready to be in the major leagues right now,” Torre said.

Both teams are 37-37. No. 37 was worn by their historical link, Casey Stengel, and retired by both teams.

And wasn’t it old Case who asked “Can’t anybody here play this game?” in reference to the 1962 Mets? It’s a question that could easily be posed to the 2005 Yankees.

“We’re going to come out of it,” Alex Rodriguez said. “We’re going to start playing better. We’re going to turn it around. We’ll be back.”

Even before Rodriguez was making what sounded like a well-rehearsed, empty guarantee, George Steinbrenner was calling from Tampa for a speakerphone meeting with team president Randy Levine, general manager Brian Cashman, pitching adviser Billy Connors and vice president Gene Michael.

Connors and Michael, who was out of the Boss’ loop but now appears back in, were sent to New York to observe, and some kind of action, be it a trade or change on the coaching staff, could follow.

“I feel embarrassed,” Yankees catcher Jorge Posada said. “We take a lot of pride in what we do, and things are not working out. They’re really not. Something’s going to happen. We’ve got to turn it around.”

With the Red Sox on a roll, the Yankees can no longer lean on the “nobody’s-running-away-with-it” crutch. They are six games behind the defending World Series champions, and five games behind the Orioles in the wild-card race.

“Perception-wise, our record is probably better,” said Glavine (5-7, 4.93). “But the Yankees are the Yankees. There are a ton of expectations around them. For them to be .500 this late in the season I’m sure is very disappointing to a lot of people. But as a pitcher, I can tell you it’s still a great lineup and personally I’d be shocked if they don’t turn it around.”

Frustration, rather than shock, was the dominant tone around the Yankees, who have lost four in a row and 5 of 6, and have lost a home series to the Mets for the first time in eight meetings. Since scoring 13 runs in the eighth inning to win 20-11 against Tampa Bay Tuesday night, they have scored 14 runs in four games, and the front office, infuriated by first-pitch swinging and quick outs when the Yankees fall behind, is focusing its attention on hitting coach Don Mattingly.

“I just see a lot of frustrated players,” Torre said. “Walking back to the bench, I see frustration.”

The Yankees played Ruben Sierra in left field and Bernie Williams in center, and they were pathetically unable to cover the vast territory of Yankee Stadium. Once Henn left the game, the Mets scored four against Scott Proctor, Mike Stanton and Paul Quantrill.

Mets manager Willie Randolph, the longtime Yankees coach, told his hitters to make the rookie work after Henn walked seven Devil Rays in his last start.

Leading off the game, Jose Reyes forced Henn to throw 11 pitches before lining out, and the tone Randolph wanted was set. Mike Cameron walked and advanced to second on Carlos Beltran’s medium fly ball to Williams in left-center, as Williams didn’t realize Cameron was tagging. With two out, Floyd worked the count full and drove one into the upper deck in right.

David Wright hit an opposite-field homer to right in the second, giving the Mets a 3-0 lead. Rookie Robinson Cano doubled home two runs in the bottom of the inning, but Glavine had the Yankees reaching and making soft outs.

In the fifth, Reyes bunted for a hit and stole second. With one out, Beltran doubled in a run, and Floyd, who glared at Henn after a close pitch in the third, hit the first pitch well back into the bleachers, his 20th home run.

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