It wasn’t the prettiest game in the history of the Subway Series. There were fundamental mistakes, physical mistakes, mental mistakes and at times, it was just not good baseball.
In the end, it was Brandon Nimmo’s RBI double that allowed the Mets to rally from a 3-1 deficit to walk off the Yankees, 4-3 in 10 innings at Citi last night.
With Eduardo Escobar at second base as the designated runner to start the 10th, Nimmo crushed an 0-1 breaking ball from Yankee reliever Nick Ramirez over the head of Jake Bauers in deep right centerfield to plate the winning run.
“First time facing him and was just trying to get a pitch in the middle of the plate, just put a good swing on it. Was able to do that,” a smiling Nimmo said afterr a most satisfying win.
It was redemption for the Mets centerfielder, who made a mental mistake on the bases that killed a rally earlier in the game and who was having a tough time in the series against the Yankees, having failed to make a play in the first game that was costly.
“I felt terrible. I let the team down and I felt really, really bad about that,” Nimmo said. “When I was coming up in that situation, I was so glad that coming into that situation I was gonna get the opportunity to come through for the boys.”
Escobar almost made a mistake by tagging at second instead of going halfway, but he was able to come around and score the winning run as the Mets walked off the Yankees for the 10th time in the history of the Subway Series.
“Good game before an off day,” Mets Manager Buck Showalter said. “Guys feel good about things, been battling. Lot of close games like that and to push through, it was big.”
The play on the field was not exactly crisp, but in baseball, that can make for some excitement.
Two times, including in the 10th, the Yankees failed to get a runner to third after they had a man on second and nobody out. A fundamental mistake that proved to be costly.
The Mets threw the ball around, as they’ve made a habit of doing lately, and allowed the Yankees to score two runs without the benefit of a hit in a 7th inning that will not show up on Tom Emanski’s instructional video.
Jeff Brigham replaced Verlander to begin the 7th and walked Josh Donaldson and then hit Anthony Rizzo to put runners on first and second with no one out.
After D.J. LeMahieu struck out looking, Isiah Kiner-Falefa hit a potential double play grounder to short but Jeff McNeil’s relay throw to first got past Mets first baseman Mark Vientos as Donaldson scored the go ahead run on the throwing error.
Kiner-Falefa stole second and went to third on a throwing error by Francisco Alvarez. Left hander Brooks Raley relieved to face left hand hitting Billy McKinney and wasn’t really paying attention to IKF who was getting a big lead off of third. Raley went with the full lineup so IKF took off for home.
Raley threw the pitch up and in and past Alvarez but it did not matter as Kiner-Falefa had a rare straight steal of home. (Todd Hundley stole home as part of a double steal in the first inning of the first ever regular season game between the Mets and Yankees in 1997)
“Loved it, loved it,” Yankee Manager Aaron Boone said with a smile. “Just a gutsy play, knew he [Kiner-Falefa] was able to get off there quite a bit and then took advantage. Great play by him.”
(The great Sarah Langs of MLB.com had the note that Didi Gregorius was the last Yankee to steal home in August, 2016 against the Baltimore Orioles at Yankee Stadium)
Showalter was seeking an answer as to what happened but he had not yet spoken with his reliever. “I haven’t talked to Rails yet, if he was trying to hit him [McKinney] with the pitch or just didn’t throw it accurately. If we throw the ball to the catcher, he’s [Kiner-Falefa] out, but we didn’t,” he said.
The Mets answered in their half of the 7th against the Yankees’ bullpen, which has been one of their strengths this season.
The Mets loaded the bases with two out against Yankees reliever Jimmy Cordero. Boone went to Ron Marinaccio who hit Nimmo to force in a run. The Mets tied the game at three on Starling Marte’s single to left, but Nimmo made a mental mistake when he went too far past the second base bag and was thrown out by Trevino.
Yankees had a threat going in the 9th against old friend and Mets closer David Robertson.
With one out, LeMahieu doubled down the left field line. Oswaldo Cabrera ran for LeMahieu and Gleyber Torres walked as a pinch hitter for Kiner-Falefa. McKinney grounded out to first to put runners on second and third but Robertson got pinch-hitter Willie Calhoun, who was batting for Jose Trevino, to ground out to third to snuff out the rally.
With Kyle Higashioka having to be the runner at second to start the 10th, Volpe had an awful at bat against Mets reliever and winner Dominic Leone as he struck out on three pitches out of the zone. It was the second time that the Yankees failed to move the runner from second with no one out.
Bauers flied out to center for the second out and Giancarlo Stanton was intentionally walked after a 2-0 count, but Leone got Josh Donaldson to ground to short for a force at second.
The game was cynically anticipated as a pitching duel because they usually don’t pan out but this one between Gerrit Cole and Justin Verlander lived up to the hype as both were outstanding.
Cole continued to pitch well this season. The Yankee ace gave up one run in six innings with 8 strikeouts while lowering his ERA to 2.75. Cole had great life with his four-seam fastball and he even topped out at 99 MPH in the 6th when he struck out Marte for his final “K” of the evening.
“Fastball, slider. I thought both pitches were really good for him to both righties and lefties,” Boone said. “He didn’t really use his curveball, change up much at all tonight.”
Verlander gave up a run in six innings with six strikeouts and bounced back nicely from that awful outing in Atlanta. Showalter was very appreciative for what he got from Verlander. “It was obvious that Cole was carrying good stuff tonight and Justin gave us a chance. I think that’s one of the keys to the game. You’re facing a good pitcher, he’s on top of his game. Key to staying engaged and winning those games is how well your starting pitcher does.”
The game was scoreless through four as both pitchers were dealing but the Mets finally broke through against Cole in the fifth, after he had set down the first 12 hitters.
Francisco Lindor became the Mets’ first baserunner as he led off with a double to deep right centerfield. Francisco Alvarez’ deep fly ball to right advanced Lindor to third.
After Cole struck out Brett Baty on three straight, 4-seam fastballs for the second out, Tommy Pham, who has had good numbers against Cole (10 for 27, .370 with 2 HRS and 5 RBIs coming in) doubled to right center field to score Lindor with the first run and a 1-0 lead.
The Yankees tied the game in the sixth. Jose Trevino led off with a double to left and scored on Bauers’ one out single.
The Mets, who are without their top slugger, Pete Alonso, salvaged a split of the two game series with a badly needed win. They hope this is the start of a consistent stretch that has been eluded them this season, but their have already been some false starts.
“I don’t take a blind eye to those things,” Showalter said, referring to the rash of recent mistakes being made by his club as they were losing 9 of 10 games. “I know how much they care and things that we’ll talk about before the next game, like we always do.”
The Yankees are battling with limited resources until their top slugger, Aaron Judge comes back, but both teams’ flaws were front and center in the series.
The two teams will meet again at Yankee Stadium after the All Star break in late July. It will be interesting to see where they both are at that point.