CLEVELAND -- The New York Mets didn't need sweeps of the Baltimore Orioles and Cleveland Indians to validate their belief that they can match up with the Yankees this weekend.
After all, as shortstop Jose Reyes noted Thursday night after his team won its sixth straight road game to open this three-stop American League trip, the Mets did win two of three games from the Yankees last month at Citi Field.
"We played against the Yankees already, and we won that series," Reyes said after shaking off a gash to his right index finger, which he suffered in the first inning of Thursday's series finale, to finish with three hits and two runs scored in a 6-4 victory against the Indians.
"Right now we can play with anybody. We're playing very good baseball. We know it's not going to be easy in Yankee Stadium, but we're playing very good."
The Mets had been 8-18 on the road at the start of this trip. And, truth be told, Baltimore and Cleveland are the doormats of the American League. In reality, the next three opponents -- the Yankees, Tigers and Twins -- represent a far more stern test to see if the Mets' sudden surge to 10 games over .500 is sustainable.
"At least two of those series will be at home," said general manager Omar Minaya, noting that Detroit and Minnesota will visit Citi Field.
After being perfect in six games at Baltimore and Cleveland, the Mets take a seven-game winning streak into the Bronx -- their longest winning streak ever heading into a Subway Series matchup. The last time the Mets swept consecutive road series on one trip came in June 2006 at Arizona and Philadelphia.
Asked if he were looking forward to the upgrade in competition, manager Jerry Manuel deadpanned with a hearty laugh: "I'm not looking for no challenge. I'm looking to keep winning games."
Added Manuel: "We're getting ready to play some teams that are considered upper-division clubs. But any night you play a major league game, you've got a chance to get beat and you've got a chance to win. You don't take anybody lightly.
"Obviously, when you go into Yankee Stadium and play the world champs, you've got to be playing good baseball. I feel like we're playing good baseball. I feel like we're pitching well enough. We were a little shaky in some areas defensively tonight, but the thing that I like is that we're adding on runs at different times, where there was a time when we'd get a bunch of runs and then settle and not score anymore. So we're doing a lot of good things right.
"How long this continues? It probably will be determined by tomorrow's starting pitcher on the opposition [Javier Vazquez]. But we feel good about the way we're playing. And I think that's important as well."
If you're nitpicking for one blemish to the series, it narrowly missed being a battle of first-place teams. The Yankees and Rays are tied atop the American League East, but Atlanta's rubber-game win against Tampa Bay allowed the Braves to maintain a half-game lead on the Mets.
"We feel great about what we're doing right now," center fielder Angel Pagan said. "Everybody is happy about the way the team is playing. What can I say? The team is playing great baseball. That's all we can ask for."
Said Reyes: "We're playing good on the road, away from Citi Field. We knew at some point we were going to turn it around playing on the road. That's a real good sign for us to win the first six games on the road."