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Yankees 7, Mets 6: Yanks start brief road trip off right

After a difficult homestand, the Yankees took their first game of the year across town.

Anthony Volpe hits the second of two big doubles tonight.
Anthony Volpe hits the second of two big doubles tonight.
Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

If the New York offenses were struggling coming into tonight, you wouldn’t know it by the final score; the first game in this year’s Subway Series was a 7-6 dogfight. Neither starter made it out of the fifth inning, as at least one team scored in each of the first six innings. But the end of the game wasn’t without histrionics, either; prior to the seventh, Drew Smith became the third pitcher (and third New York pitcher) to be tossed because of excessive stickiness, and Clay Holmes dramatically worked out of a bases-loaded jam in the eighth. But through the ups and downs, the Yankees fought, and they ultimately came out on top.

Giancarlo Stanton kicked things off by adding to his all-time record home run total at Citi Field, crushing an 0-2 hanger to left for his 24th dinger in Queens:

It was also his fourth career homer against Max Scherzer, tied for his most against any pitcher.

But it only took two pitches for the Mets to strike back, as Brandon Nimmo deposited another diminished Luis Severino heater into the stands in right-center to tie the game at one apiece:

That monstrous blast, 429 feet and 109.6 mph off the bat, precipitated a shaky Severino inning in its entirety. The right-hander sandwiched a Jeff McNeil flyout with two walks, both of which likely would have come around to score if it weren’t for this Jake Bauers grab on the run:

Bauers defied the 66-percent catch probability on that one, but there was nothing he could do when the next batter, rookie Brett Baty, drilled a grounder 107.7 mph through the infield for an RBI single. With the Mets up 2-1, and two on with two outs, Severino turned to his changeup to get him out of a jam again:

Yet, Severino continued to struggle with his command and poise in the next inning. After a quick first out, Mark Canha notched a double, and Severino followed that up by hitting Nimmo on the elbow guard. Then, he inexplicably balked the runners over a base. Francisco Alvarez grounded out with the infield drawn in, but with two outs and the infield back, McNeil slapped one down the line for a two-run single.

In an effort to pick off the pesky left fielder on first, Severino made a quick pivot and a throw, failing to step off the mound with his back foot or step toward first base with his lead foot. The result? Another balk. Ultimately, Francisco Lindor flew out to strand McNeil at second and end the inning, but Severino was visibly frustrated.

The next inning didn’t change that. Starling Marte got things started with a single, then stole a base on a high fastball Kyle Higashioka couldn’t corral. Severino promptly walked Baty and struck out Pham again before Luis Guillorme grounded one to second base. Torres couldn’t come up with the 99.2-mph worm-burner cleanly, and it deflected to the struggling Anthony Volpe. The shortstop had to react quickly, and he rushed it, throwing one over Anthony Rizzo’s head for the error. Torres failed to redeem himself on the next play when a quick pivot at second base could have doubled up Canha, but instead, the Mets’ first baseman was safe and Marte came around to score:

Scherzer, on the other hand, had rebounded nicely after the Stanton home run, retiring 8 of 10 Yankees since then with the lone baserunners coming via the hit-by-pitch. But the two Yankees in arguably the deepest slumps, Rizzo and DJ LeMahieu, got things started in the top of the fourth with a pair of 100+ mph batted balls to the left side; Rizzo’s went for a line drive single, while LeMahieu’s was a no-doubt homer:

Next, still with no outs, Isiah Kiner-Falefa got on with a bloop to center that barely survived a Brandon Nimmo dive. Then, Billy McKinney moved him over with a grounder to first. After a six-pitch battle, Higashioka got IKF to third with a single.

At that point, another contender for biggest slumper, Volpe, found himself quickly down 0-2. That’s when Scherzer gifted him a hanging slider, and the rookie didn’t miss — IKF finally crossed the plate on Volpe’s double down the line, 101.2 mph off the bat:

But the Yankees weren’t finished. Another blooper, this one courtesy of Bauers, drove home both Volpe and Higashioka, giving the Bombers the lead and knocking Scherzer out of the game:

The tables had turned in the pitching matchup, and Severino had retired six Mets in a row since Volpe’s error. But his earlier struggles had run his pitch count high, and Baty smashed a 100.3-mph single up the middle with one out in the bottom of the fifth.

Aaron Boone allowed Sevy to pitch to Tommy Pham, whose number he’d had all night, and the right-hander notched a groundout. But when Boone strolled out to the mound thereafter, he allowed Severino to stay in the game. And two pitches later, after the hurler’s 103rd and 104th offerings on the night, Luis Guilllorme singled Baty home to tie the game:

Severino’s fastball rebounded after the rough first inning, averaging 96.1 mph on the night, his best mark in three starts. It also notched five whiffs on 60 offerings. Yet, his other offerings combined for just two whiffs on 44 offerings. The YES announcers questioned whether Severino jumped the gun on his rehab assignment; all signs indicate that that is the case, as the right-hander has had his fastball some days and his offspeed stuff others, but the whole arsenal has yet to truly come together.

Luckily for Severino, the Yankees provided plenty of run support in this one, and they reclaimed the lead in the next half-inning. McKinney led off with an infield single, and then Higashioka struck out. But Volpe came up with another big double next, this one with an 89-percent catch probability and some help from Nimmo, moving McKinney to third. Then, pinch-hitter Josh Donaldson drove him home with a sac fly to right:

The bullpens held their opponents scoreless through the rest of the game. The Mets threatened with multiple baserunners in the sixth and the eighth, but Jimmy Cordero and Clay Holmes came on to bail out Ron Marinaccio and Wandy Peralta, respectively.

The biggest moments came with the bases loaded in the eighth. With one out, Holmes faced his first batter, Lindor. After working the count full, the Mets’ shortstop was seemingly expecting a slider, as he swung under the reliever's trademark bowling ball. The next batter, Marte, battled for eight pitches, but Holmes got him with the slider this time, a gyro-spinner that dipped off the plate at the last second.

Michael King handled the ninth and after a perfect frame, the Yankees had their hard-fought 7-6 victory.

And if you’re wondering when Drew Smith got the heave-ho in the midst of all this, it was just before the Yankees came to bat in the top of the seventh:

Though the Yankees pitched around a lot of baserunners and benefitted from some bloops going their way, there were plenty of positives to come out of this one. For starters, Severino’s velocity rebounded; even if his breakers still need some workshopping, his fastball today indicated that he’s at least healthy. Additionally, the struggling Rizzo, LeMahieu, and Volpe all hit the ball hard, and the bullpen ultimately tossed 4.1 scoreless innings. This game wasn’t without its lumps, but it provided clues for how the Yankees can continue to tread water without their captain.

The Yankees have one more bout with the Mets tomorrow before heading off to Boston for another series with their division rival. Former teammates Gerrit Cole and Justin Verlander will square off in that one, with first pitch scheduled for 7:10 pm ET.

Box Score