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Yankees 4, Mets 2: Max Scherzer proves mortal, Yanks prevail

Somehow, the Yankees got to Max Scherzer in four separate innings to secure their second win a row for the first time in August.

New York Mets v New York Yankees Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images

Domingo Germán vs. Max Scherzer. A slumping Yankees lineup against one of the greatest pitchers of our generation — any generation, really. A Mets lineup that has been one of the most potent in the league in August against the Yankees’ No. 5 starter. We know how that story ends: The closest thing that Scherzer has received to a shellacking in 2022 and a 4-2 Yankees win over the Mets.

Wait, what?

Against a guy like Scherzer, you want to take advantage of every opportunity that you get, and that’s exactly what the Yankees accomplished tonight. Andrew Benintendi was plunked to lead off the bottom of the first, advancing to third on an Anthony Rizzo single. Cleanup hitter DJ LeMahieu hit a fly ball to right field, Benintendi tagged up, and Starling Marte threw a strike to home plate — but Benintendi slid under the tag, giving the Yankees a 1-0 lead.

This is, however, where things got a little weird. Recognizing that the Mets thought that Benintendi had left early, Rizzo took off for second base to force a throw and prevent the appeal. Scherzer panicked and threw the ball into center field, allowing Rizzo to reach third. The umpires, however, decreed that the ball was dead and that time was not yet “in,” and sent him back to first. Although Rizzo would not come around to score, we did get blessed with this GIF, marking the second straight year in which a member of the Yankees and Francisco Lindor had words.

Scherzer would retire the next six batters, but then with two outs in the third, Aaron Judge came to the plate. The future Hall of Famer has used his slider to dominate Judge this season, striking him out in four straight at-bats. This time, however, he tried to slip a fastball past the Yankees center fielder, and ... well, let’s just say, Judge didn’t strike out this time.

It had been nine days since No. 99 had hit number 46, his longest homerless streak of the season, and while it wasn’t his most visually stunning, it ranks among his most impressive: 109.6 mph off the bat, 26 degree launch angle, 383 feet, a 2-0 Yankees lead. The shot also moved Judge past Robinson Canó for 14th on New York’s all-time home run list with 205, tied with Dave Winfield. (Former teammate Mark Teixeira is next up with 206.)

In what was becoming a pattern, Scherzer shut the Yankees’ offense down in the fourth, but the Bombers were able to put together another rally in the fifth. Isiah Kiner-Falefa opened the inning with an automatic double on a 3-2 slider, advancing to third on a Marwin Gonzalez sacrifice bunt. Benintendi drilled an 0-2 cutter down the first base line into the right field corner for an RBI double, extending the lead to 3-0.

That was all the Yankees would get that inning; although Judge and Rizzo would hit fly balls to right field that went 325 feet and 356 feet, respectively, they just so happened to hit it to the parts of the short porch that were 326 feet and 357 feet. Still, the fact that they were able to send a pair of Scherzer four-seamers for a ride is a good sign, considering how the Yankees offense has been this month.

All the while, Germán had been doing something that none of us expected coming into the game: outdueling Scherzer. The right-hander absolutely shut down the Mets lineup for the first six innings despite striking out three hitters, courtesy of efficient innings brought about by generating weak contact and getting good defense behind him. After Germán hit Brandon Nimmo to open the game, he got Marte to ground into an around-the-horn double play to erase the runner. The following inning, Pete Alonso led off the second with a grounder to third, but Donaldson made a nifty play to keep him off the basepaths.

In truth, Germán did not struggle at all until the fourth. Nimmo led off the inning with a single down the first base line, just out of reach of the diving Rizzo. After Marte flew out to Judge in center, Lindor singled to put runners on first and second with just one out and the dangerous Alonso at the plate. The first baseman, however, hit a grounder up the middle that Germán resisted trying to snag, allowing Oswaldo Cabrera to field it and complete a 4-4-3 double play to end the inning.

In the seventh, however, Germán’s fortunes changed. After Lindor struck out to open the frame, Alonso hit a high pop up into short right field. Cabrera and Gonzalez each called for it, the two collided, and the ball dropped in as the batter reached on an E4.

Cabrera gets a bit of a break from me, as he’s already shown that he can flash the leather all over the diamond, but this play serves as a reminder that despite the energy and the flair, he’s still just a rookie. You’ve got to let the outfielder get that one since it’s a much easier play for him. Unfortunately, Daniel Vogelbach made the Yankees pay for the mistake, crushing a home run into the Yankees bullpen to cut the Yankees lead to 3-2 and knocking Germán out of the ballgame. Ron Marinaccio came on in relief and returned Jeff McNeil and Mark Canha to prevent further damage.

For most of August, that would be the beginning of the end, as the Yankees offense would prove unable to overcome an imperfect performance from the pitching staff. Tonight, however, the Yankees kept up their “let’s score in every odd-numbered inning” pattern. Kiner-Falefa reached on a one-out infield single, then was awarded second when on a throwing error by Lindor. Gonzalez popped out to Alonso for the second out of the inning, but Benintendi drop a single to right field to bring IKF around to score and extend the lead back to two runs.

A Judge single to left put runners on the corners with two away, knocking Scherzer out of the game. Although Rizzo stranded the runners, the damage was done, and the Yankees had a 4-2 lead.

Fortunately, that’s all the Yankees would need, as Marinaccio and Jonathan Loáisiga shut down the Mets in the eighth and ninth for the win. Much like the Yankees overall, Loáisiga’s play has been inconsistent since returning from the IL in July, so it was refreshing to see him retire four quality hitters in order: Marte, Lindor, Alonso, and Vogelbach.

Germán secured the win, improving to 2-2 on the season, while Scherzer falls to 9-3 and fails to secure his 200th career victory; Loáisiga earns his first save of the season. With the victory, the Yankees improve to 75-48 and will remain eight games up in the division (the idle Blue Jays fell half a game behind the victorious Rays). More importantly, this was the Yankees’ second consecutive win, the first time that this has happened since July 29-30th.

But we’re still in the dog days of August, and tomorrow night, the Yankees are back in action with their fourth and final regular season game against the Mets this season. Frankie Montas gets the start, going up against Taijuan Walker (thankfully, not Jacob deGrom). First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 pm ET. Perhaps the Yankees will remember the famous line from Major League II:

“OK, we won a game yesterday. If we win today, it’s called ‘two in a row.’ And if we win again tomorrow, it’s called a ‘winning streak.’ It has happened before!”

Box Score