It is one of my longest-held beliefs that baseball doesn’t need to be shorter; there needs to me more action and more drama. Tonight’s game took more than four hours to complete, well over the arbitrary threshold that Rob Manfred and company prefer for baseball games, and it was end-to-end action every minute.
Sadly, the Yankees lost one of the most entertaining games of the season, and that’s surely the biggest takeway. A back-and-forth slugfest ended with the Mets winning the Subway Series 7-6, largely thanks to one Francisco Lindor.
As we always do on my Sunday Night Baseball recaps, we devote a moment to ponder why Alex Rodriguez is allowed to steward the flagship broadcast of the baseball week. Once again, a person who once upon a time I would have defended online until I was blue in the face made a fool of himself in the ESPN booth, to the point that fellow fool Jon Heyman had to comment:
A-Rod making the case home run hitters are overpaid. Not sure I recall his negotiations going that way.— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) September 13, 2021
Now, on to the recap...
The Yankees got off to a roaring start, putting two men on in the first before Giancarlo Stanton flipped a 114-mph line drive to right-center. The RBI double put the Yankees up 1-0, and Joey Gallo followed with just the second sacrifice fly of his career to double the lead.
Clarke Schmidt, unsurprisingly, struggled in his first MLB work this season. He walked the first batter he saw on four pitches, and gave a run back to the Mets in the first inning. There were, broadly, big command issues, with him either widely missing the zone or leaving pitches over the plate:
However, Schmidt’s command of the plate improved just a half-inning later, as he worked a walk in his first professional plate appearance. I don’t care for pitchers hitting, but that was a cool moment.
Unfortunately, all of those cool moments went down the drain in the second inning. Between a Gleyber Torres error, another Schmidt walk, and Lindor going deep for a three-run shot, it was clear that this wasn’t destined to be Clarke’s night. To make matters worse, shortly after that disastrous second, Aaron Judge was removed from the game with dizziness. The Yankee right fielder appeared to have some eye-related discomfort in his first at-bat, and after striking out for the second time, was pulled.
Schmidt did put up zeroes in the third and fourth innings, though he allowed two runners each frame. The fifth offered more of the same, as the 25-year-old yielded a single and a double before hitting Kevin Pillar with a pitch, and just like that, his day was done.
Andrew Heaney entered with the bases loaded and only one out, in the starkest indictment yet of the Yankees’ devotion to The Plan. Heaney was always going to follow Schmidt, no matter what the situation was, no matter if there was a perfect double play opportunity and a bunch of ground-ball specialists in the ‘pen who could have come in and given Heaney a clean sixth. That wasn’t The Plan. Now, Heaney only allowed one run, which is probably the best case scenario given the inputs, but it just shows how inflexible the club can be, even after two weeks that have seen the team’s playoff chances take a hit. The score was 5-2, Mets, after five.
It wasn’t all doom and gloom for the Yankees, as Torres rediscovered his power stroke in the sixth:
Gleyber David Torres se hace sentir en Queens. pic.twitter.com/YqGyL8OSAX— LasMayores (@LasMayores) September 13, 2021
It was Torres’ first home run since July 21st, and coming off two strong batted balls last night, hopefully is a sign the shortstop is finally coming back around. At the very least, it brought the Yankees closer, making it 5-4.
What made the above dedication to The Plan so annoying was the fact that Heaney didn’t throw another inning. Wandy Peralta was brought in, and while he made a tough pitch to Lindor, now hitting from the right side, reports of Lindor’s offensive demise were exaggerated, as the Mets’ shortstop put his second home run of the game over the Citi Field wall:
On Lindor’s home run, he turned and chirped at Gio Urshela and the Yankee bench while circling the bases. This would come back around in the real highlight of the game, brought to us by Mr. Giancarlo Stanton:
Now, what you just saw is a soaring, game-tying, dare I say clutch home run from Stanton, but to understand the full story, we need the full context:
Things got SPICY between the Mets and Yankees on Sunday Night Baseball pic.twitter.com/kDcCA7IebE— ESPN (@espn) September 13, 2021
Of course it’s baseball, so there wasn’t a real fight. Just lots of jawing, a cleared bullpen, Mike Harkey strolling in five minutes late, and for the first time in a long time, it felt like the Subway Series had some real heat.
Now apparently, yesterday, the Yankees picked up on Taijuan Walker tipping pitches, and were loudly whistling from the dugout on pitches they were in on. Lindor took exception to that and on the second home run, told the Yankee bench as much. Stanton then took the time to remind Lindor that pitch tipping is part of baseball and no amount of pitch tipping would reduce Walker to the shell of a pitcher he is now — this part is, admittedly, speculation — and voilà! Brouhaha.
Side note: Brett Gardner giving the Mets a thumbs down ... it doesn’t exactly justify his position on this roster, but it ALMOST justifies his position on this roster.
There were still two and a half innings of this game to go though. Peralta picked himself up in the seventh, and Chad Green pitched the eighth, and....well...he gave up a home run to Francisco Lindor.
Yes, Lindor hit three home runs, including the eventual game-winner. It was the 13th home run allowed by Green in 2021 alone. It’s unfair to compare any pitcher to Mariano Rivera, but hey, it’s late and I’m annoyed. Mo topped out at 11 homers allowed a season, in his rookie campaign when the Yankees were still trying to make him a starter. For a non-Cooperstown comparison, Dellin Betances never gave up more than seven bombs. Alas.
The Yankees made a little noise in the ninth and had Stanton at the plate as the go-ahead run against embattled closer Edwin Díaz. Alas, the big man popped up to Lindor to end the Subway Series in a Mets victory.
There was plenty of drama and lots of action, and in five years or something, this game will probably be seen as a classic. For right now, though, it’s another loss, another failed opportunity to keep pace with the Blue Jays and gain breathing room against the Red Sox. Both teams are now a full game ahead of the Yankees in the Wild Card race.
Tomorrow will be a quick turnaround, though. The Yankees will head back across town to welcome the Minnesota Twins in a make-up matinee, with first pitch coming at 2:05pm Eastern. Luis Gil will get the ball against John Gant.