At the end of the evening Sunday the New York Mets left the Bronx with the best record in baseball and still a first place team. The Yankees took two out of three games from them in this first of two interleague series between the two teams with a 6-4 win.
So until they meet again in September at Citi Field, three more games in the Mets home ballpark, we may have more of a clearer picture where either team will be in October. Because it is April, they say the games mean nothing. But losing games this month can come back to haunt a team that is in the thick of a pennant race in September.
The Mets feel they will be there in September, as do the Yankees. Fans for both teams also have those hopes for playing baseball in October. With that in mind, and with the anticipation and drama of these three games now in the books, there are no answers as to where they will be during that tough stretch of games in September.
it is simple: April is almost over and the Mets have accomplished something they have not done since their championship year of 1986 and left the Bronx with a 14-5 record, the second best for the franchise to start the season, and Monday night play three at Miami before heading home Thursday for four games with the Washington Nationals.
That’s seven with division opponents and before the series with the Yankees, they compiled and tied a club record 11-game winning streak by going 13-3 against the Nationals, Philadelphia and the Marlins of Miami.
Along the way the Mets realize they will have a few bumps on the road. They did Sunday night committing a season high four errors that prevented them from taking two of three games from the Yankees.
“In a game like this, you can’t make those mistakes,” their manager Terry Collins said. “Just a bad night for us. For the most part they’ve played pretty well.”
But they did not play well Sunday night and it was a game that did not resemble their sparkling play in the month of April. Eric Campbell forgot how many outs there were on the base paths and got doubled up. The middle infield at short and second, Daniel Murphy and Wilmer Flores, each committed an error and are tied with the team lead with four.
Murphy botched a double play groundball in the fifth inning and Wilmer Flores at shortstop was charged with a throwing error to first that prevented the Mets from doubling up Alex Rodriguez. That got some attention despite Murphy going 2-for-3 and tying a career high with two doubles.
“ We got this ugly one out of the way,” Michael Cuddyer said. “We’re going to go to Miami and play better.”
Cuddyer got a ball in left that got to second base late and that enabled Chris Young to cross the plate in a four- run second Yankees second inning that increased their lead to 5-2.
So there is every indication, and with five months and a long season ahead, that the Mets will be where they want to be in September. Playing the Yankees then will have more significance than these last three games in the Bronx.
“Mistakes are a part of the game,” Flores said. And for the most part, Flores has been handling the position well at shortstop, Collins made reference that Flores had two bad games in the first week.
Said the manager, “Until tonight, he hadn’t had an error since.”
But September is a month the Yankees want to make sure is significant to them. They feel they will be a part of the mix and return to the postseason after a two year absence. These games with their cross town rivals was just as important to them as it was to their fans.
And those three games in September with the Mets will be more important and have implications for the Yankees if they play like they have been, going 8-2 since April 17 after starting the season at 3-6. This series did not mean they have taken the town away from the Mets as much as Yankees fans would like to believe.
“We won the series and that gets you to October,” said Yankees manager Joe Girardi. Winning series has been a trend for his team that came off a 7-3 road trip before this first Subway Series in the Bronx. And if they continue to do that, then come September when they meet the Mets again, those games will be significant.
However, again, that is a long time off. The Yankees have been hitting and overall getting the pitching, in particular out of the bullpen where they shutout the Mets after the fifth inning and did not give up a hit in 4-⅔ innings.
And with Alex Rodriguez hitting a solo home run in the first inning off Jonathon Niese, number 659 of his career, and one shy of tying Willie Mays, the Yankees are feeling more confident about their lineup. A-Rod has been an early season surprise and faces a possible battle of an incentive clause in the contract that the Yankees have said they will not pay him when he surpasses Mays, and if he passes the other all-time home run leaders.
One of those milestones will happen way before September. Perhaps the Mays’ milestone comes this week when the Yankees host Tampa Bay for three in the Bronx. All that matters now is that the Yankees have something to play for when they meet the Mets again in September.
The Mets feel they will be there. Hey, losing two out of three to the Yankees in the Bronx does not have the implications of three games in September. But when the time arrives, and if these two teams are playing for something then, an Alex Rodriguez milestone won’t matter if his 40-year old body is still producing runs, something more important.
That is runs for the Yankees in September. And for the Mets, with this promising pitching that was showcased these last three games, they can only hope that they play errorless baseball that will get them to September.