YANKEES 9, METS 1
With Johan Santana opening the first game of the 2012 Subway Series at Yankee Stadium on Friday, pitching for the first time after throwing his historic franchise first no-hitter, there was a big buzz among the sellout crowd of 48,566 before the game started.
Unfortunately for Santana and the Mets it was the opposing pitcher who ended up commanding centerstage.
Hiroki Kuroda tossed 3 1/3 innings of perfect baseball and 5 2/3 innings of no-hit baseball and ended up shutting out the Mets on just one hit for seven innings while Santana was racked for four Yankee home runs – two by Robinson Cano – as the Yankees downed the Mets in lopsided laugher.
Kuroda (5-6) lost his perfect game in the fourth on a fielding error by Derek Jeter, but he extended his no-hitter into the sixth inning until Omar Quintanilla stroked a 3-2 pitch for two-out double to the left-centerfield wall. If Kuroda had pitched a no-hitter it would have marked the first time in major-league history a pitcher who had thrown a no-hitter in his previous start had his team no-hit by the opposing team in his next start.
Kuroda issued a two-out walk to Lucas Duda in the seventh and then was struck in the left foot by a line-drive off the bat of Daniel Murphy. But, in a night when nothing seemed to go right for the Mets, Alex Rodriguez caught the carom out of the air to retire the side.
Kuroda left the game for precautionary X-rays on his foot, which showed only a contusion and no fracture. But Kuroda’s availability for his next start is in question because he left the stadium on crutches.
While Kuroda was mowing down the Mets, Santana was having trouble with the command of his pitches and he paid dearly for it in both the second and third innings.
With two out in the second inning, Rodriguez drew a walk and Cano followed by smacking a first-pitch fastball into the right-field bleachers for his 10th home run of the season.
A similar scenario played out for Santana in the third – only it got much, much worse.
With two out, Rodriguez singled sharply to left and Cano again blasted the first pitch he saw – this time a hanging slider – which landed in a nanosecond in the second deck in right-field.
To add to Santana’s agony, Nick Swisher and Andruw Jones followed Cano with solo home runs and the Yankees had a commanding 6-0 lead with Kuroda keeping the Mets dancing like marionettes.
Kuroda ended up with a season-high seven strikeouts and he threw 52 of his 91 pitches for strikes to give the Yankees their 50th victory over the Mets in the history of the 85-game Subway Series, which dates back to 1997.
Santana, meanwhile, left after five innings having been pounded for six runs on seven hits and one walk and he struck out five batters. It was a far cry from his magical no-hitter against the St. Louis Cardinals last Saturday.
The Yankees added three runs in the seventh inning off rookie right-hander Elvin Ramirez.
The Mets, on the other hand, broke up the shutout on two walks and an RBI double by Duda off reliever Ryota Igarashi, who was just called up from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre on Thursday.
With the victory, the Yankees improved their season ledger to 32-25 and they moved ahead of the slumping Baltimore Orioles in second place in the American League East, a half-game behind the Tampa Bay Rays. The Mets dropped to 32-27.
- I said this in my recent team analysis and it bears repeating: Kuroda appears to have turned the corner on his season since he gave up six runs in 4 1/3 innings at home against the Twins on April 18. Since that time, Kuroda is 4-3 with a 2.98 ERA in his last nine starts. Kuroda has been a victim of low run support. Going into Friday’s game he was the worst supported pitcher in the American League this season at just over two runs a game. Mets outfielder Jason Bay summed up Kuroda best after the game when he told reporters: “I faced him a few times when he was with the Dodgers. He’s always been, from what I’ve seen, pretty good. But that was by far the best I’ve ever seen him.”
- Cano’s two home runs are an extension of a recent power surge. He hit only one in April and he had four as of May 18. In his last 15 games, he has hit seven. Cano now has 11 home runs, 29 RBIs and he is batting .293, which is second on the club to Jeter.
- Cano, Swisher and Jones hitting consecutive home runs in the third inning was the first time the Yankees have done that since Aug. 28, 2011 against the Orioles and the same trio hit them and in the same order. But here is an odd stat: When Swisher hit his home run it was only the second time this season the Yankees have hit back-to-back homers.
- Jeter had a night he would like very much to forget. He was on the hook until Quintanilla’s double with his error in the fourth as spoiling a potential perfect game for Kuroda. At the plate, Jeter was 0-for-4 with a strikeout and he hit into an inning-ending double play in the sixth with the bases loaded. Jeter has gone hitless in his last 17 at-bats and his average has dropped to .314.
- The Yankees were forced to bring up Igarashi because Freddy Garcia was placed on bereavement list on Thursday due to the passing of his grandfather in Venezuela. Igarashi, 33, was claimed off waivers from the Blue Jays on May 29. By the looks of him in the ninth inning, he perhaps should go back on waivers. He gave up a run on a hit and two walks and he struck out two. He threw 27 pitches in the inning and looked like he was afraid to throw strikes.
Reliever Joba Chamberlain threw 25 pitches on Friday at the Yankees’ minor-league complex in Tampa, FL. It was the first time Chamberlain has thrown from a mound since he sustained a dislocated right ankle trampolining with his son on March 22. Chamberlain told reporters he intends to pitch for the Yankees this season. . . . Reliever David Robertson will pitch for Scranton/Wilkes-Barre on Sunday in what likely will be at least two rehab appearances. Robertson, who is on the 15-day disabled with a left oblique strain, could rejoin the Yankees in a-week in Washington. . . . Outfielder Brett Gardner appears on track to rejoin the Yankees on Monday in Atlanta. Gardner has been on the disabled list with a strained right elbow.
The Yankees’ home portion of the Subway Series with the Mets continues on Saturday.
The Yankees will start Phil Hughes (5-5, 4.96 ERA). Hughes is coming off his first nine-inning complete game of his career. He gave one run on just four hits and struck out eight against the Tigers on Sunday. He is 1-1 with a 4.20 ERA in four games against the Mets.
The Mets will start right-hander Dillon Gee (4-3, 4.48 ERA). Gee received a no-decision and gave up two runs on seven hits against the Cardinals on Monday. He is 0-1 with 5.14 ERA against the Yankees lifetime.
Game-time will be 7:05 p.m. EDT and the game will be telecast regionally by FOX Sports.