The Subway Series is always an emotional roller coaster for the fans and the teams, but Buck Showalter’s club was ready for the challenge of facing their crosstown rivals.
“We played a lot of emotional games here already,” Showalter said after the Mets went on to a 6-3 win in the opening salvo of the 2022 Subway Series at CitiField last night.
Starling Marte and Eduardo Escobar keyed an early rally with home runs in the first inning while Pete Alonso had three hits and an RBI to pace the offense.
Mets starter Taijuan Walker gave up three runs in six innings pitched to pick up his 8th win.
The Mets (60-37) have now won two in a row and six of nine going back to before the break. Atlanta won, so the Mets still lead the NL East by two full games.
Coming into the game, the Mets had owned Yankee starting pitcher Jordan Montgomery to an ERA of 7.11 in three games and that continued in the very first inning of this one.
In a bit of a surprise, Walker gave up back to back home runs to Aaron Judge and Anthony Rizzo on consecutive pitches with one out in the top of the first for a 2-0 lead.
As has been their wont this season, the Mets answered the very next inning after the opponent scores. With one out in the first, Starling Marte homered to cut the Yankee lead to one run.
Francisco Lindor followed with a double and scored on Pete Alonso’s RBI double to tie the game. For Alonso, it was his 83rd run batted in as he retook the Major League lead from Judge who now has 82.
Mark Canha struck out looking for the second out, but Eduardo Escobar, hitting right handed against the lefty Montgomery, launched a two run home run to give the Mets a 4-2 lead.
Montgomery’s Kryptonite is a failure to put hitters away when he’s ahead in the count. The Mets’ hitters extended the at bats and Montgomery’s pitch count accumulated. The Yankee lefthander also shows his secondary pitches early, instead of establishing his fastball, so when the at bats are extended, the hitters basically get to see all that he’s got on a certain night.
“Felt like I was making decent pitches but they must’ve had a really good gameplan against me,” Montgomery said.
The Mets added a run in the third thanks to some sloppy defense by the Yankees. With Marte at second, Lindor hit a grounder to third. Josh Donaldson’s throw hit the Mets shortstop who was running down the first base line and allowed Marte to score and give the Mets a 5-2 lead.
The Yankees (66-32) had a chance in the fourth against Walker. After D.J. LeMahieu drove in a run with a fielder’s choice, Judge walked on four pitches to load the bases with two out. The next hitter, Rizzo, swung on a 3-0 pitch and drove it deep to left center field but Brandon Nimmo caught it to end the threat.
Former Yankee Adam Ottavino came on to pitch the seventh and was aided by a failed maneuver by the Yankees.
Judge was on second and Rizzo was on first with Gleyber Torres at the plate and one out when the Yankees tried a double steal but Mets catcher Tomas Nido threw to second to nail the back runner and nullify another rally. (Torres, who knew the play was on, backed out of the box a bit early and that allowed Nido to have a clear throwing lane to second. Torres might have stayed in the batter’s box to provide a legal obstacle for Nido’s throw to second).
With two out in the eighth, Ottavino walked Aaron Hicks, bringing the tying run to the plate.
Yankee Manager Aaron Boone made a head scratching move when he went to his bench for a pinch hitter for Kiner-Falefa. Boone was playing for the game tying home run and sent up the struggling Joey Gallo to bat, even though he knew electric closer Edwin Diaz was warming in the bullpen.
Ottavino vs. Kiner-Falefa was probably a better match up for the Yankees than Diaz against Gallo.
Mets Manager Buck Showalter countered with his lights out closer and it wasn’t a fair fight. The one shocking aspect of the at bat was that it lasted five pitches before Diaz blew Gallo away.
After the game, Yankee Manager Aaron Boone with his take on why he used Gallo in that situation.
“Forcing their hand to at least get the closer in there for a four out situation,” Boone said. “It’s not tying run on second, it’s we need two runs. Man on first, Otto’s pretty tough against righties. To me, it’s an on base situation. I felt like Joey gives us a shot at that.”
Jeff McNeil snapped an 0 for 19 skid with an RBI single in the eighth off of Albert Abreu to close out the scoring.
In the ninth, Jose Trevino reached first on an infield single. LeMahieu struck out swinging for the first out. Judge hit a bouncer back to Diaz who looked to start a game ending double play, but the ball popped out of his hand for an error and the Yankees had the tying run at the plate with one out.
In past seasons, Diaz would’ve collapsed at this point but he gathered himself and struck out Rizzo and Torres to end the game for his 22nd save. “They got to hit a homer or something to score three runs,” a smiling Diaz said after the game. “I was calm, I made my pitches then and we get the outs.”
The fact that Showalter went to Diaz for the four out save, shows you how badly they wanted this game. “We felt like going into the night as light as his [Diaz] workload’s been, that we could get four outs of him and it worked out,” the Mets Manager said.
A big difference in the game was the meat of the respective lineups. Mets 2-3-4 hitters combined for 7 hits, 5 runs scored and two RBIs. Yankees 4-5-6 hitters were a combined 0 for 12 with three strikeouts.
Yankees were 0 for 8 with RISP and left 10 men on base. The Mets were 3 for 10 with runners in scoring position.
Yankees have not played a good brand of baseball lately. They’ve lost 9 of 14, including 4 of 6 since coming back from the break and have blown leads in six of those nine losses. The Yankees just seem to not be on top of their game as they were for the first three months or so.
Some base running mistakes have reared their ugly head in the past few games for the Yankees, including two big ones last night.
In the top of the second, Aaron Hicks was on third and Isiah Kiner-Falefa was on first with a single, but he was picked off by Walker to kill the inning.
“We talked before the game that he [Walker] had a good move. That was the fastest move. I was ready to go back. I was just a little too slow,” said Kiner-Falefa.
Mets have won 5 of the last 7 games played between the teams and have Max Scherzer on the mound as they go for the two game sweep this evening.
A number of the players were experiencing the Subway Series for the first time including Escobar. “I never played in an environment like that, the way that the game was being played. Honestly, it felt like a World Series environment there,” he said through a translator.
How about a real World Series environment with these two teams. It’s not out of the question.