New York – The Subway Series with the two New York baseball teams always has a flair for dramatics and Tuesday night in Flushing, with Mariano Rivera making his last appearance at Citi Field it was the New York Mets who got the best of him. Rivera blew the first save of his 17-year career without getting an out as the Mets came from behind and scored two runs getting a walk-off 2-1 win over the Yankees at Citi Field.
The Mets have taken the first two of the four-game home-and-home series that shifts to Yankee Stadium in the Bronx Wednesday evening. It was their third straight win and 11th come from behind win of the season. Their last six wins have all been come from behind.
After a rain delay of 91 minutes, which once again failed to sell-out Citi Field, the 31,977 saw a scoreboard tribute to Rivera who has said this is his final season. The future Hall of Famer who made his 1,072nd career appearance, fourth most all-time, threw out the ceremonial first pitch to John Franco the all-time saves leader for the Mets.
Prior to the game, before a throng of media, Rivera was presented with a mounted fire hose nozzle and a mounted call box from the New York City Fire Commissioner with Mets’ Chief Operating Officer Fred Wilpon who extended the invitation to throw the ceremonial first pitch.
Before Rivera blew the save, it was another good pitching duel. Matt Harvey looking to become the ninth starter in Mets franchise history to start the season a perfect 6-0, pitched 8.0 innings, struck out 10, allowing one-run and failed to get the decision.
His counterpart, Hiroki Kuroda was just as good. He struck out seven, walked none, on four hits in seven innings. But it came down to the Mets ninth and the great Mariano Rivera who has had an impressive history against the Mets in Queens.
Rivera recorded the final pitch in the 2000 World Series at Shea Stadium and another championship for the Yankees in the “Subway World Series.” And he closed the final game of the interleague series against the Mets in 2009, the inaugural season of Citi Field and recorded the historic 500th save of his career.
But Tuesday night was a different outcome for Rivera, in what was another tight contest, similar to the first game between the two teams Monday night. There was timely hitting, a few errors, and another defensive gem from the Yankees’ Brett Gardner in center field in the sixth inning that robbed Daniel Murphy from an extra base hit the second straight night that got Kuroda out of trouble.
“Hopefully it’s the last one,” commented Rivera about his first blown save of the season after coming out of the pen perfect 18 previous times. “It did happen quick.”
And for the Mets, who have had minimal success against Rivera, it was quick. Murphy opened the ninth with a double, one of his two hits, and David Wright tied the game with a single to center and advanced on a Gardner throwing error. Lucas Duda would deliver a single to right center which scored Wright for the win.
Rivera threw nine pitches. Most of the time they go for strikes, but this time the Mets made his last regular season visit to Queens a memorable loss. It was also his third career blown save against the Mets.
Said Rivera “It has been great, everywhere I’ve been this year. And tonight everything was great until the ninth.” He will return to Citi Field July 16th on the roster of the American League all-star team.
“You knew at some point it would happen,” said Yankees manager Joe Girardi about the blown save. The Yankees now have a three-game losing streak and were the only team in baseball that had not lost more than two consecutive games coming into play.
Girardi added there was no thought of walking Wright, because as he said, “Not with a Hall of Fame closer on the mound.”
The Mets go to the Bronx and a renewed attitude with their last two wins against the Yankees, off a series finale win against first place Atlanta Sunday. Manager Terry Collins said his team got good pitches to hit the last three games
“They realize you don’t need the home run to win,” added Collins who was ejected from the game at the end of the sixth inning after arguing a call at second base that saw Ruben Tejada picked off. He faulted Tejada for a mistake and his contention was umpire Adrian Johnson changed the call.
“I said all along this is a good series for us to get us in the right direction,” he added.
Harvey impressed the Yankees with his command and the fastball was clocked again at 95. “He’s an ultimate competitor,” said Wright about Harvey. “He’s an animal out there. I wish we can score more runs while he’s out there and get him some wins because he deserves it.”
The Mets have scored 11 runs for Harvey in his last 11 starts and the right hander has eight career no-decisions.
As for the win, Wright said, “To win the last couple of games the way we have coming from behind especially against Mariano, it’s emotional. As far as an emotional win I’d rather do it winning 10-0. It does give you a little swag”
And Wright made it known. “We’ve had a couple of big walk off wins this year. We haven’t been able to capitalize.”
Harvey gets his next start against the Marlins down in Miami Sunday. The momentum hopefully will continue with two more games in the Bronx and with Harvey on the mound, the ace of their staff always gives them a chance to win.
It was the first time Harvey watched Rivera from the dugout. His dream when drafted by the Mets was to pitch against the Yankees in the Subway Series in Queens or in the Bronx before a packed crowd.
“Those timely hits in the ninth were awesome,” he said. “Hopefully we can keep that going,” he would say about the excitement in the dugout and in the clubhouse after the walk-off win against Rivera.
A win like this in the Subway Series for the Mets, and against the best in Mariano Rivera can certainly change a mood in the clubhouse.
Comment: Rich Mancuso [email protected]