The Mets and Yankees are not close in terms of record or overall talent this year, but this has been a close Subway Series. The Yankees managed a pair of tight wins at Yankee Stadium to open the series, and tonight’s contest was a back-and-forth affair, with the teams trading runs and leads all game. Again, the Yankees managed to hold on by the score of 5-3, extending their winning streak to three.
The Mets manufactured a run in the first to take the early lead. Juan Lagares led off by doubling off Jaime Garcia, moved to third on a groundout, and scored on a sacrifice fly by Yoenis Cespedes. The Yankees struck back in the second with some manufacturing of their own, as Robert Gsellman walked Chase Headley, who reached third on a passed ball and a wild pitch, then scored on Garrett Cooper’s groundout. 1-1.
The small ball was nice, but Aaron Judge is more fun. There was no slow advancement of runners or station-to-station play to be had when Judge launched a solo homer into the third deck at Citi Field. Watch how the left fielder Cespedes doesn’t move an inch as Judge’s shot goes into orbit:
Things went fairly smoothly for Garcia after the opening run. He didn’t allow a second hit until the fifth inning. Unfortunately, that hit was a homer off the bat of light-hitting Rene Rivera, evening the game at two.
Gsellman failed to keep it together during his third trip through the order. Judge notched his second hit of the night with a single, and walks to Didi Gregorius and Gary Sanchez loaded the bases. That ended Gsellman’s outing after 5.1 innings. Paul Sewald came on to face Headley, who managed a sacrifice fly to center to give the Yankees the lead, 3-2.
In the bottom of the sixth, Sanchez continued to put together a nice stretch, offensively and defensively. With Lagares on first, Sanchez did an excellent job blocking a breaking ball in the dirt, quickly gathered and gunned down Lagares attempting to advance. For all the hubbub about Sanchez’s struggles blocking balls on defense, the young backstop has always done a great job controlling the running game with his arm.
Garcia proceeded to walk Cespedes and yield a double to Michael Conforto, leading Joe Girardi to call on his bullpen to hold the lead. Tommy Kahnle entered and gave up a sacrifice fly to Travis D’Arnaud to level the score at three.
Garcia’s line ended at 5.1 innings, five hits, three runs, three walks, three strikeouts. His starts as a Yankee have fallen into this middling bucket; not very good, but not totally awful either. Garcia is at his best when he keeps the ball down and limits hard contact, which he managed for the most part tonight, holding the Mets to an average exit velocity of 78 mph per Statcast. His control was just off enough to prevent his outing from being an outright success.
The tit-for-tat nature of the game continued, as Ronald Torreyes led off the seventh with a double, and moved to third on Brett Gardner’s pinch-hit sacrifice bunt. Jacoby Ellsbury and Aaron Hicks walked to load the bases for Judge. Judge popped out, but Gregorius came up with a crucial two-run, two-out double to put the Yankees up 5-3.
New York’s bullpen has been dynamite since the All-Star Break, holding opposing batters to a league-best .245 wOBA over that span. Tonight was no different, as Kahnle, Adam Warren, and David Robertson combined for 3.2 scoreless innings to bring the game home. Robertson handled the ninth for his first save as a Yankee since September 26th, 2014.
With so many teams in the AL chasing a Wild Card, every victory means the Yankees will put space between themselves and at least some of their competitors. They still are a few games back of Boston in the AL East, but the team has stabilized nicely after a tough series against the Red Sox last weekend. They will go for the sweep of the Mets tomorrow night, with staff ace Luis Severino on the mound.