Rolling into Queens, the New York Yankees paid a visit to their little brother, the New York Mets. For the most part, the Yankees finished strong after the Mets got off to some great early starts. Taking two of three, the Yankees captured the road portion of the Subway Series.
The opener featured a star-studded pitching duel between Masahiro Tanaka and Jacob deGrom. Brett Gardner came up with a big home run and turned Citi Field into Gardy Party City for the Yankees. Of course, it didn’t take long for National League baseball strategy to rear its ugly head and lend to countless Twitter hot takes in the Yankees 4-1 victory.
After allowing his obligatory home run to Brandon Nimmo in the first, Tanaka twirled a superb outing. Tossing five frames, Tanaka yielded only one hit, one run, one walk, fanning eight. By now you all know why his start only lasted five frames, we’ll get to that.
Pitching wins don’t matter hardly as much as they used to in today’s statistical world but there’s a reason the Mets’ ace has as many wins (4) as Chad Green. While deGrom was sharp with eight K’s of his own in eight innings, yielding four hits, two walks, three runs (two earned), it’s hard to beat the Yankees lineup with a single run of support.
During the sixth, the Yanks finally broke through.
Tanaka reached on a grounder muffed by first baseman Adrian Gonzalez. Gleyber Torres lofted a single to center and Gardner worked a walk. Ensuing batter Aaron Judge lifted a fly ball to right, plating Tanaka with the tying run.
The run would prove costly, as Tanaka left the contest with tightness in both hamstrings. While one can argue a pro athlete should be able to make a 90-foot sprint home, these guys don’t do this on a regular basis. I still don’t get National League baseball, watching the pitcher bat is boring, there’s no strategy in that spot, you’re not lifting Tanaka for Aaron Hicks or whomever to pinch hit or pinch run in that spot in the sixth when he’s going toe to toe with the opposing ace. It’s not about tradition, it’s about National League owners who would rather pay for a cheap reliever than spend more money on an extra hitter, which is ironic considering the injury risk you expose to a starting pitcher, a pitcher to whom you invest a lot of money.
After Torres reached in the eighth, Gardner ripped a Laguardia laser wall scraper to right, off a 1-0 offering from deGrom. The home run was Gardner’s fifth of the campaign, raising his OPS to 1.054 in his past 21 games.
Giancarlo Stanton crushed club home run No. 100 on the season, hammering a 3-1 slider from Paul Sewald in the ninth. Stanton’s home run was No. 15 on the year and his 22 jacks at Citi Field are the most by an opponent.
Picking up the slack was the Yankees bullpen. Jonathan Holder, Green, Dellin Betances and Aroldis Chapman combined on four scoreless frames, closing out the victory.
The second game played out much like the first, the Mets jumping out to a fast start and the Yankees hammering away in a 4-3 victory. It was a microcosm of the season for each team.
As mentioned, Domingo German’s outing was similar to Tanaka’s, a rough first frame, yielding a solo home run to Todd Frazier and a two-run jolt to Asdrubal Cabrera. Yet, German would settle down and set down the Mets order. Across six frames, German fanned nine and avoided straining his hamstrings after drawing a walk.
OK, so the Mets don’t play at Shea Stadium anymore but Torres would’ve homered there too. During the third, the rookie second baseman drove a 2-2 sinker to left off Steven Matz, getting the Yankees on the board with the solo round-tripper. Torres’ home run No. 11 on the campaign ties another former Yankee rookie second sacker for most home runs from the nine-hole in a season, Alfonso Soriano also clocked 11 from that spot in 2001. Incredibly, Torres equaled Gregorius with those 11 homers on the season. The baseball season is a marathon, not a sprint.
Miggy, Miggy, Miggy, can’t you see, sometimes your homers tie the game at three. Miguel Andujar, the current third baseman, wouldn’t be outshined by the former third baseman, clocking a 0-1 curve from Matz to left in the sixth.
After Justify won the Triple Crown at Belmont Park, Aaron Judge crowned the Mets in Queens with the Yanks third home run of the evening, making it a 4-3 game. Judge crushed a first-pitch offering from Anthony Swarzak in the eighth, No. 18 on the season.
Once again the Yankees relievers made it look easy, exactly how one would draw it up. David Robertson pitched a scoreless seventh. Betances rocked and fired with a smooth delivery, fanning the side in the eighth with some serious heat and a hook for good measure. Chapman fanned a pair and closed out the ninth.
The series finale saw the Yankees blanked for the first time all season, falling 2-0 against Seth Lugo and company. You can’t predict baseball. It probably didn’t help when Stanton was struck out twice on a pair of pitches out of the strike zone and the fact that Judge was out of the lineup. Oh well.
Mind you it’s difficult to win when your team doesn’t score but Luis Severino was getting worked by the Mets lineup. After throwing 31 pitches in the first, it almost seemed like they were waiting him out, not to the extent of tipping pitches but they picked their spots. Enter Frazier, who stole a base in the fourth and cranked a two-run homer to left on a 1-2 slider during the fifth. The Frazier home run proved to be the difference maker. Severino only went five frames, yielding five hits, two walks, two runs, fanning seven.
The New York bullpen continued its brilliance. Chasen Shreve fanned two in a scoreless frame. Adam Warren tossed a flawless frame. Jonathan Holder whiffed two in his perfect inning.
The Yankees could only muster three hits on the evening. Lugo whiffed eight in his six scoreless frames. Not even two errors by Jose Reyes could help the Bronx Bombers break through. In the ninth, Gary Sanchez hit the ball on the screws but Frazier (of course) turned it into a game-ending double play, catching Greg Bird off first base.