The Yankees, despite some gifts from the Mets, were unable to overcome an awful outing from Gerrit Cole and an even worse one from Aroldis Chapman today in game one of today’s doubleheader in the Bronx. Because the 2021 season has a weird sense of humor, both were named American League All-Stars within an hour of the loss.
The 10-5 defeat leaves the Yankees one game away from being swept in both the doubleheader and in the series by their crosstown rivals. Regardless of what happens in tonight’s game, it raises many questions about the direction of the team.
It didn’t take long for the Mets to get the scoring started in the top of the first inning. With many recent questions circling about Cole’s spin rate, Cole threw a cement-mixer of a knuckle curve to Dominic Smith that ended up in the right-field stands, giving the Mets a 1-0. In Cole’s defense, the ball was struck at 100.9 mph, at a 40-degree launch angle, and had an expected batting average of .180. Yet even nine-irons that only travel 368 feet count when they go over a section of the outfield wall only 360 feet away from home plate.
With the help of some Mets generosity, the Yankees answered back in the bottom of the second inning. Giancarlo Stanton led off with a single to right-center which was followed by a ground ball to shortstop from Gio Urshela that appeared destined to be added to the Everest high pile of double plays the Yankees have hit into this season. Instead, Mets shortstop Francisco Lindor mishandled the ball on the transfer from his glove to his throwing hand, allowing both Stanton and Urshela to reach safely. After a fielder’s choice from Gleyber Torres, Marcus Stroman helped the Yankees even further by hitting Brett Gardner – he of the 76 OPS+ - on the foot with an 0-2 pitch, loading the bases. After fouling off two tough pitches, Kyle Higashioka came through for the Yankees with a line-drive double down the left-field line, scoring two and giving the Yankees the lead. Tim Locastro followed with a sacrifice fly to left field in his first at-bat as a Yankee scoring Gardner and giving the Yankees a 3-1 lead.
The Yankees tacked on to the lead with a run in the bottom of the third inning. Aaron Judge led off with a single, which Luke Voit then followed with one of his own. Mets left fielder and former Yank Billy McKinney made a nice play in left-center field, cutting the ball off and firing to second base instead of trying to cut down Judge who was advancing to third base. Keeping Voit at second base turned out to be significant as Giancarlo Stanton followed by hitting into a 6-4-3 double play. After an Urshela ground out to first, the Mets were out of the inning with only one run. Nevertheless, the Yankees led 4-1 heading into the fourth inning.
In the top of the fourth, the Mets pulled out their playbook from yesterday: bleed the Yankees to death by 1,000 paper cuts. Four singles and three walks led to a three-run inning that tied the game at four. The only upside for the Yankees is that Aaron Judge’s arm single-handedly kept the inning from being potentially worse. On three separate occasions in the inning, a Met batter singled to right field and the baserunners only advanced one base on each occasion – largely because it’s Aaron Judge out there. Then, on a Lindor single to right, Judge picked Brandon Nimmo off of second base, after Nimmo rounded too far toward third. Regardless, Gerrit Cole was given a three-run lead and three earned runs on Cole’s record later, we had a 4-4 game.
With one out in the bottom of the fifth inning, the Yankees got back-to-back singles from DJ LeMahieu and the team’s only other All-Star, Aaron Judge. The latter’s single was a Statcast breaking 56.4 mph per hour, -30 degree launch angle, 12 hop ground ball through the right side (the shift giveth and the shift taketh away) that advanced LeMahieu to third base. Stroman followed by helping the Yankees once again by uncorking a wild pitch, narrowly missing Luke Voit’s head, that got past Mets catcher Tomás Nido and allowed LeMahieu to score, giving the Yankees a 5-4 lead.
After 2.2 combined innings of shutout relief from Jonathan Loaisiga and Chad Green, the Yankees took their one-run lead into the ninth. Earlier this season that would mean Aroldis Chapman would come on and Frank Sinatra would start singing shortly thereafter. Well, it’s not earlier in the season, so only one of those things happened. Chapman did indeed come on and immediately surrendered a home run to Pete Alonso, who hit a Chapman slider over the left-center-field wall to tie the game.
After a hit by pitch and a base on balls, Chapman was mercifully removed. The only problem for the Yankees is that Lucas Luetge came out of the bullpen with a can of gasoline to pour on the bonfire. Four hits and five runs later (two of which were charged to Chapman) and the Mets had a 10-5 lead.
Seth Lugo came on for the Mets and got the Yankees to go down quietly 1-2-3 in the seventh and final inning. Final score: Mets 10, Yankees 5.
Nestor Cortes takes the mound tonight to try to salvage a game from the weekend series. First pitch has been delayed due to the length of this debacle. The Yankees announced they will provide more information as it becomes available.