YANKEES 4, METS 3
When the Yankees signed 40-year-old Raul Ibanez and 35-year-old Eric Chavez practically on the eve of the beginning of spring training it appeared the older battle-tested veterans might have been just an afterthought.
But on Saturday night the two lefty swingers were front and center as they powered the team back from a 3-0 deficit to a 4-3 lead in practically the blink of an eye in the seventh inning as the Yankees stunned the Mets and the largest crowd to ever attend a game at Citi Field.
Mets right-hander Chris Young was cruising heading into the seventh inning but Ibanez cracked a line-drive three-run home run just over the wall in the corner of right-field that tied the score and sent Young packing for the night. One out later, Chavez stroked his first career pinch-hit home run to the opposite field corner in left off reliever Jon Rauch (3-7) that gave the Yankees their final margin of victory.
Lefty specialist Clay Rapada (2-0) struck out Kirk Niewenhuis with two runners on base in relief of starter Ivan Nova to get credit for the victory.
Rafael Soriano pitched a scoreless ninth to earn his 14th save in 15 chances.
The Yankees entered play leading the major leagues in home runs with 106 and they have scored 52 percent of their runs this season via the longball.
Young, however, baffled the Yankees over six scoreless innings, giving up just two hits and two walks while striking out four.
But Yoong opened the seventh by walking Mark Teixiera one pitch after catcher Josh Thole dropped a foul tip. Nick Swisher then lined a single into right that Lucas Duda misplayed into a double. It was the 1,000th hit of Swisher’s career.
Ibanez then laced a first-pitch fastball at the knees on a line just over the right-field wall. A huge portion of the sellout crowd of 42,122 erupted in cheers as Ibanez circled the bases with his 11th home run of the season.
Those cheers reached deafening levels one out later when Chavez, pinch-hitting for Rapada, tomahawked a shoulder high fastball on the outside corner and it carried over the wall in left. It was Chavez’s fifth home run of the season.
Up to that point, the Mets seemed intent on ending Nova’s streak of 16 road starts without a loss and 11 straight victories.
Niewenhuis led off the third inning with a line-drive opposite field home run similar to Chavez’s to give the Mets an early lead.
One inning later, the Mets took advantage of some uncharacteristic shoddy Yankee defense to push across an unearned run.
Scott Hairston reached on a fielding error by Alex Rodriguez to open the inning. Omar Quintanilla followed with a double to center and Thole plated Hairston on an infield groundout.
Nova was further frustrated by the Mets in the sixth when some logical strategy backfired on the Yankees and him.
With two out and Daniel Murphy on second with a double, Nova chose to walk Thole intentionally and pitch to a weak-hitting Young. However, Young foiled the strategy with his first hit of the season, a solid lined single to right, that scored Murphy and chased Nova.
Nova gave up three runs (two earned) on five hits and three walks and he fanned seven batters in 5 2/3 innings. But he Yankees’ rally managed to keep his road winning streak intact.
With the victory, the Yankees tied the road portion of the Subway Series and they clinched the 2012 version of the series by winning their fourth game against the Mets in five contests.
The Yankees’ season record improved to 41-28 as they snapped a three-game losing streak. They also moved 2 1/2 games ahead of the second-place Baltimore Orioles in the American League East. The Mets fell to 39-33.
- Ibanez was originally signed to just be the team’s left-handed designated hitter. But the right elbow injury sustained by Brett Gardner that has sidelined him since mid-April has meant Ibanez has had to play more in the outfield. That, in turn, has allowed manager Joe Girardi to use Rodriguez at DH more and play Chavez in the field. The results have been good as Ibanez has 11 home runs and 35 RBIs. Chavez, meanwhile, is hitting .267 with five home runs and 10 RBIs.
- Boone Logan deserves major kudos for his work in the seventh inning. Logan was brought into the game with the potential tying run in Jordany Valdespin on third and one out and lefty swingers Duda and Murphy due up. Logan fanned both batters swinging and ended the threat. Logan is having a fine season. He is 1-0 with a 2.73 ERA and he leads the team in holds with nine.
- The bullpen as a whole was as good as always. Rapada, Cody Eppley, Logan, David Robertson and Soriano combined to pitch 3 1/3 innings of scoreless baseball, giving up two hits and two walks and striking out an amazing eight Mets. Though Robertson walked two batters in the eighth, he ended up striking out the side.
- The “Big Four” power bats of Curtis Granderson, Rodriguez, Robinson Cano and Teixiera, who were batting two through five in the order, respectively, were a combined 0-for-9 with a pair of walks against Young. That is a big reason why the Yankees’ offense sputtered over the first six innings.
- Derek Jeter botched a routine potential double-play grounder off the bat of Hairston in the second but it did not cost the Yankees because Nova got Young on a strikeout with the bases loaded. But Rodriguez’s error in the fourth did cost the Yankees a run. This is unusual for the Yankees, who lead the major leagues with the fewest errors (29 including the two on Saturday) and in fielding percentage.
- To add to Rodriguez’s woes, he was 0-for-4 on the night and three balls did not leave the infield. His batting average has now dropped to .265 and he is hitting a woeful .219 this month.
Starting catcher Russell Martin left the game in the ninth inning with what Girardi termed as “back stiffness.” Martin was pinch-hit for in the ninth by Dewayne Wise and backup Chris Stewart caught the ninth inning. Because Stewart normally catches CC Sabathia, Martin was not going to start on Sunday. It is unclear how severe the injury is at this time and if Martin will be available to back up Stewart. Martin felt tightness in his lower back during batting practice but played anyway and was 0-for 3 in the game.
The Yankees will attempt to win the rubber game of the road portion of the Subway Series on Sunday.
Sabathia (9-3, 3.55 ERA) will be going for his 10th victory. Sabathia threw his first complete game of the season in his last start against the Atlanta Braves on Monday. He did not face the Mets at Yankee Stadium but is 2-1 with a 2.25 ERA against them in his career.
The Mets will counter with knuckleballing right-hander R.A. Dickey (11-1, 2.00 ERA). Dickey is 6-0 with an 0.18 ERA in his last six starts and he is coming off two consecutive one-hit complete games. Dickey is 3-1 with 2.30 ERA against the Yankees.
Game-time will be 8 p.m. EDT and the game will be telecast nationally by ESPN.
YANKEES 5, METS 4
Amid all the chatter about the struggles of Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez and talk about the team not hitting with runners in scoring position, Russell Martin was slumping worse than any of the Yankees and it was something he was suffering through silently.
He went to hitting coach Kevin Long and they worked on some adjustments and quietly they have been paying off since May 20. For the Yankees those adjustments looked golden on Sunday but for the Mets they were a source of some painful heartbreak.
Martin blasted a huge two-run home run in the bottom of the seventh inning to draw the Yankees to within a run of the Mets at 3-2. Two innings later, Martin led off the bottom of the ninth inning with a walk-off solo home run that gave the Yankees a home Subway Series sweep over the luckless crosstown Mets.
The Mets, who had led the game since the second inning 3-0, surrendered the lead in the bottom of the eighth but managed to tie it in the ninth by putting a run across off closer Rafael Soriano for his first blown save of the season.
So the Mets sent reliever Jon Rauch to the mound in the ninth and Martin managed to battle him into a 3-2 count. Rauch hung a slider and Martin deposited the mistake into the seats in left-field for his second homer of the game and his eighth of the season.
A sellout crowd of 49,010 at Yankee Stadium rose to its feet cheering as Martin headed around third toward a sea of pinstripes waiting at home plate to greet him. But Martin mistimed his leap and stumbled across home plate with the run that nonetheless gave the Yankees a huge leg up on their annual six-game home-and-away series with the rival Mets.
Boone Logan (1-0), who rescued Soriano from a first-and-third with one out jam in the top of the ninth by striking out pinch-hitter Josh Thole looking and retiring Kirk Nieuwenhuis on a hard-hit grounder Robinson Cano saved from rolling into right-field to score the tie-breaking, got credit for the victory.
Rauch (3-6) was saddled with the loss.
The late-inning drama overshadowed a superb effort by Mets left-hander Jonathon Niese, who had shut out the Yankees through 6 2/3 innings only to be hurt by a throwing error by David Wright on a grounder off the bat of Andruw Jones. Three pitches later, Martin was able to shoot a lined shot to the right-field wall over the glove of a leaping Scott Hairston. The ball struck the padding of the top of the wall in right-field and was caught by a fan in the first row for a home run.
So Niese ended the day having given up two runs (neither earned) on seven hits and one walk and he struck out six batters.
Meanwhile, the Mets used a combination of well-placed hits, some questionable umpiring and an error to bat around in the second inning against Yankees starter Andy Pettitte.
Hairston led off the frame with a double to left-field. One out later, Vinny Rottino rolled a ground ball just past Jayson Nix at short to score Hairston to give the Mets an early 1-0 lead.
Pettitte then threw a 3-2 pitch to Omar Quintanilla that looked to be over the plate at the knees on the outside corner. However, home plate umpire Mike Muchlinski called it a ball. Then Mike Nickeas rolled a ball up the middle and Cano – in his haste to turn a double play – had the ball carom off his glove for an error that loaded the bases.
No. 9 hitter Jordany Valdespin, who entered play on Sunday hitting .133, then inside-outed a ball just past Teixeira at first to increase the Mets’ lead to 3-0.
Pettitte walked Andres Torres but got out of further trouble by striking out both Jason Bay and Wright swinging.
Pettitte recovered to pitch three scoreless innings but left the game after six innings because of a bruised pitching hand he sustained when he bare-handed a hard-hit one-hopper off the bat of Hairston to open the inning. Pettitte completed the inning but left the game to have some precautionary X-rays.
He gave up three runs (two earned) on four hits and two walks and he fanned eight.
The Yankees, meanwhile, down 3-2 in the eighth, preyed upon the departure of Niese, the weakness of the Mets’ bullpen and some more shoddy infield play.
Derek Jeter opened the inning against Mets reliever Bobby Parnell with a slow roller to Quintanilla at short. The ball rolled under his glove and into shallow center while Jeter legged it into second base with an infield single and an error. Curtis Granderson followed with a sharp single to right that advanced Jeter to third.
The Mets inexplicably decided not to deploy a shift on the lefty-swinging Teixeira and he made them pay by rolling a ball up the middle to score Jeter with the tying run and Granderson advanced to third.
Rodriguez then gave the Yankees their first lead of the day by blooping a well-placed single into shallow right-field just out of the reach of Valdespin to score Granderson.
However, the lead was short-lived when Lucas Duda greeted Soriano in the ninth with a double over the head of Granderson in center and slumping first baseman Ike Davis followed a double of his own to the wall in right-center.
After Quintanilla grounded into a fielder’s choice in which Nix deftly threw to third to nip a sliding, pinch-hitter Daniel Murphy singled to right and Soriano was replaced with Logan.
Logan’s escape from the one-out jam set the stage for Martin’s heroics in the bottom of the ninth.
The Yankee have now defeated the Mets in 52 of 87 contests in the Subway Series and it gave them their first home sweep of the series since 2003.
The Yankees are now 34-35 on the season and they remain a half-game back of the Rays in second place in the American League East. The Mets dropped to 32-29.
- Martin served notice that his season-long slump is definitely over. Martin was 2-for-4 with the two home runs and three very important RBIs. As of May 20, Martin was hitting .168. Since that time, he is 15-for-47 (.319) with four home runs and 10 RBIs. He has raised his batting average to .216 and .222 is his season high.
- Logan bailed out Soriano and the Yankees with some excellent clutch pitching in the ninth to retire Thole and Niewenhuis with the go-ahead runner at third and one out. Logan has not been scored upon since May 20, which spans 3 1/3 innings in his last eight appearances. He has been scored upon in only four of his 29 games this season and his season ERA is now 2.66.
- Clutch eighth-inning singles by Teixeira and Rodriguez are welcome sights to Yankee fans after watching them largely fail in those situations in the first two months of the season. Rodriguez had an RBI in each of the three weekend games and he has six RBIs this month after driving in only eight runs in May. Teixeira had only 20 RBIs on May 22, since then he has 16 in his last 18 games.
- Nick Swisher wins the “Bonehead Player of the Game” award handily. With two on and no outs in the second inning he took it upon himself to bunt to get the runners over despite the fact the Mets could have chose to walk Jones intentionally to pitch to Martin and Nix to get out of the jam. But he compounded that mistake by bunting the ball right to Niese, who threw Rodriguez out at third by a country mile. Swisher later grounded into a double play after Cano had singled in the seventh. Swisher was 0-for-4 in the game and his season average fell to .247.
- Cano’s error in the second inning really hurt Pettitte and the Yankees. In what could have been at least a force play and at most a double play, the Yankees got nothing and Valdespin followed with his two-run double. A Gold Glove second baseman has to make that play. It was only Cano’s third error of the season but, boy, did it hurt.
- Soriano was 9-for-9 in save opportunities until Sunday. The run he gave up was his first since a May 10 game at Yankee Stadium against the Rays. Soriano, who spent a portion of 2010 on the disabled list with a sore right shoulder, blew three saves in five opportunities last season.
X-rays on Pettitte’s left hand showed no damage but the hand was bandaged as a precaution. Pettitte said his hand was bruised and swollen but it would not prevent him from making his next scheduled start in Washington against the Nationals on Saturday. . . . Right-hander Freddy Garcia rejoined the team on Sunday after attending his grandfather’s funeral in Venezuela. He was activated from the bereavement list and reliever Ryota Igarashi was optioned back to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
The Yankees will embark on a six-game road trip that starts in Atlanta with a three-game series that opens on Monday.
Right-hander Ivan Nova (7-2, 5.09 ERA) will open the series on the hill for the Yankees. Nova limited the Rays to one run on four hits in eight-plus innings in what may have been his best major-league outing. Nova has never faced the Braves.
The Braves will start right-hander Randall Delgado (4-5, 4.26 ERA). In his last start, Delgado gave up one run on two hits over 6 1/3 innings against the Marlins. He walked one and set a career high with seven strikeouts. Delgado has never faced the Yankees.
Game-time will be 7:10 p.m. EDT and the game will be telecast by the YES Network.
YANKEES 4, METS 2
A month ago, Yankee fans did not know what was worse, Mark Teixeira’s cough or his constant choking at the plate with runners on base.
On Saturday, Teixeira did not cough up his opportunity or choke in the clutch. He launched a huge two-out, two-run home run in the bottom of the sixth inning with the Yankees losing 2-1 to Dillon Gee and the Mets and the Yankees got another strong outing from Phil Hughes to clinch the home portion of the Subway Series.
Another sellout crowd of 48,575 at Yankee Stadium watched in awe as Teixeira swung at a hanging 2-2 curveball from Gee and pulled it into the right-field bleachers for his 11th home run of the season.
Up to that point Gee (4-4) had held the Yankees hitless since the first inning when they scored a run on an Alex Rodriguez one-out RBI single, loaded the bases and – even if you were not a psychic you could have predicted this – Raul Ibanez hit into a inning-ending double play.
From that point on the Yankees could not hit Gee’s change-up if he told them it was coming. Over the next four innings, Gee only gave up a leadoff walk to Derek Jeter in the third inning and a leadoff walk to Teixiera in the fourth. (Of course, Teixiera was immediately erased on another double play off the bat of Ibanez.)
But a third leadoff walk to Curtis Granderson in the sixth proved fatal to Gee. Two outs later, Teixeira put the Yankees ahead for good.
Granderson handed the Yankees an insurance run in the bottom of the eighth inning by delivering his 18th home run of the season off Mets reliever Bobby Parnell.
Hughes (6-5), meanwhile, was victimized by the long-ball as he has been most of the season.
He gave up a solo home run to a 30-year-old shortstop who came into the game with just two career home runs when he played briefly for the Colorado Rockies in 2008. Omar Quintanilla, who broke up Hiroki Kuroda’s no-hitter with two outs in the sixth inning on Friday, blasted a Hughes fastball into the right-field seats in the third inning to tie the contest at 1-1.
Hughes then gave up a second solo home run to David Wright in the sixth inning, which put the Mets into the lead for the first time in the weekend series. With the two home runs he surrendered on Saturday Hughes has been nicked for 15 home runs in 68 innings this season.
Hughes left with one out in the in the seventh inning having been touched for six hits and two walks and he struck out six.
A bullpen combination of Boone Logan, Cory Wade and Clay Rapada pitch scoreless ball through eight innings and Rafael Soriano pitched around a walk and single in the ninth to get pinch-hitter Jodany Valdespin to fly out to earn his ninth save of the season in as many opportunities.
With the victory the Yankees imroved their season record to 32-25 and they remain a half-game out of first place behind the Rays in the American League East. The Mets fell to 32-28.
- For all the talk about how horrible the Yankees’ starting rotation was in April, Hughes has shut those critics up with his recent spate of good outings. In his last seven starts, Hughes is 5-1 with a 3.47 ERA. After missing most of the 2011 season with weakness in his right shoulder, Hughes is beginning to show the form he showed in 2010, when he was 18-8 and made the All-Star team.
- Teixeira would also like to forget about April be he hit just .244 with three home runs and 12 RBIs that month. Since then, Teixeira has hit eight home runs and driven in 23 runs. This is despite the fact Teixeira has hit just .171 over his last 10 games.
- Granderson’s home run in the eighth put him in third place in the major leagues with 18, trailing Adam Dunn with 19 and Josh Hamilton with 22. Granderson has also been mired in a horrific batting slump this month. He is hitting only .161 in June and has struck out 10 times in 31 at-bats this month.
- Although he is having a fine season for the Yankees, Ibanez was a big disappointment with the bat on Saturday. He was 1-for-3 but he hit into a double play in his other two at-bats and the first one came with the bases loaded. Ibanez has been one of the few Yankees to hit pretty well with runners in scoring position but he is 0-for-10 this season with the bases loaded. Ouch!
- The bottom of the order was totally useless on Saturday. Nick Swisher (batting seventh), Eric Chavez (eighth) and Russell Martin (ninth) were a combined 0-for-9 in the game and they struck out three times. Chavez, who flew out twice, was the only one of the three to get a ball out the infield.
- Swisher’s 0-for-3 night snapped a modest six-game hitting streak in which he was 8-for-21 (.381) with a home run and five RBIs. Swisher has only 17 walks this season after drawing 95 last season. He also has struck out 46 times this season, which is a high total for him.
It seems Brett Gardner is good about teasing us with his imminent return from the disabled list only to disappoint us again. After playing in a rehab game at Class A Charleston, Gardner reported feeling pain in his right elbow on Saturday morning and he is now sidelined indefinitely. Gardner will be sent to Dr. James Andrews in Pensacola, FL, for an evaluation early next week. He also will visit with Dr. Timothy Kremchek in Cincinnati. Gardner had three at-bats and played five innings on Friday. He was expected to play again on Saturday and rejoin the team on Monday in Atlanta. Manager Joe Girardi said Gardner likely will not rejoin the team until some time after the All-Star break. . . . Kuroda said that he will be able to make his next scheduled start on Wednesday in Atlanta. Kuroda was struck in the left foot by a line drive off the bat of Daniel Murphy on Friday and Kuroda left the game for precautionary X-rays, which showed just a deep bone bruise. . . . Rodriguez’s RBI single in the first inning marked the 1,917th RBI of his career, which ties him with Eddie Murray for seventh on the all-time list. Meanwhile, Rodriguez’s hit scored Jeter with his 1,800th run, moving him past Ted Williams for 17th place on the all-time list.
The Yankees will go for a sweep of the weekend series for bragging rights in the Big Apple against the Mets.
Left-hander Andy Pettitte (3-2, 2.78 ERA) will toe the rubber for the Yankees. He is coming off a stellar 7 1/3 inning performance against the Rays in which he gave up just two hits and struck out 10. He has won three of his four starts at Yankee Stadium this season and he is 8-5 with a 3.69 ERA in his career against the Mets.
Opposing Pettitte will be fellow left-hander Jonathon Niese (4-2, 4.11 ERA). Niese struck out 10 in a victory against the Cardinals on Sunday. He did not allow a run in his six innings of work. He is 0-1 with a 4.50 ERA against the Yankees.
Game-time will be 1:05 p.m. EDT and the game will be telecast nationally by TBS and locally by the YES Network.