For those of us hoping the offense’s production in the sweep over the Royals represented a turnaround in the team’s fortunes, today reminded us that three games against the second-worst team in baseball is perhaps not the best litmus test for an offense. Justin Verlander did what he normally does to the Yankees, holding them to two hits in six scoreless innings. By that point, the Mets were in full control thanks to Pete Alonso’s two home runs and five RBI, and they’d hold on to take the Subway Series opener, 9-3.
The Mets struck in the top of the first with Brandon Nimmo leadoff double against a mistake middle-middle 3-2 changeup. It appeared Germán would escape unscathed converting a pair of quick outs, but a Bermuda Triangle bloop single from Alonso dropped between Billy McKinney, Harrison Bader, and Anthony Volpe to plate Nimmo for the contest’s first run. Statcast had McKinney’s catch probability at 90 percent but his late jump allowed it to drop.
Germán struck out Daniel Vogelbach to end the frame before striking out the side in the second as it appeared the Yankees’ starter had adjusted his sights. Well, it turns out that newfound command was only temporary. He was again not helped by McKinney, who couldn’t make the catch on a Francisco Lindor two-out bloop double that Statcast assigned an .030 expected batting average. A walk and an Alonso three-run missile to left later and the Yankees were staring at a 4-0 deficit after three.
The Yankees love to tell us how much they value defense but when you go into the season without a true left fielder, these are the things that can happen.
Meanwhile, the offense couldn’t get anything going against Verlander, who came into the contest 9-7 with a 3.37 ERA in 24 career starts against the Yankees. The Bombers sent four hitters to the plate in each of the first six innings but were otherwise stymied by the 40-year-old veteran. The only highlights of the early-to-mid innings saw Gleyber Torres extend his career-long hitting streak to 14 games with a single in the third and DJ LeMahieu work three walks off Verlander as it appears he is starting to see the ball better.
Any real chance of a comeback was erased in the fifth inning as Alonso and Vogelbach went back-to-back off Germán to open the frame and make it 6-0, Mets.
Alonso’s second home run of the contest moved him to second on the NL leaderboard also giving him a season-high five RBI on the night. A pair of two-out singles by Lindor and Jeff McNeil off reliever Nick Ramirez in the seventh and a Volpe throwing error extended the Mets’ lead to 7-0.
Germán’s night was over after six innings. In between the mistakes he was effective for stretches, logging his fourth nine-strikeout game in his last five starts, but the Mets hitters punished every mistake he made, which when exacerbated by the defensive miscues turned it into an ugly outing. Germán’s final line saw him give up six runs on seven hits and a walk against nine strikeouts in six innings totaling 91 pitches.
The Yankees managed to avoid the shutout, scoring two in the seventh on a Volpe opposite-field RBI double and Stanton sac fly with the bases loaded to end Brooks Raley’s streak of 13 consecutive scoreless appearances, but Anthony Rizzo struck out with runners on the corners to end the mini-rally. They loaded the bases again in the eighth and again managed just one run — a pinch-hit RBI groundout for Ben Rortvedt against closer David Robertson, tasked by Buck Showalter to convert the final five outs.
Fans hoping for a merciful end to this contest were disappointed as the Mets tacked on two more runs in the ninth on a two-run double by McNeil off Ron Marinaccio to plate Nimmo and Lindor. It continues a horrid July for the Yankees reliever, bringing his ERA up to 8.00 in the month. The Mets continued to threaten, loading the bases against Albert Abreu, but he managed to hold the score at 9-3, where it would end.
With Boston leading Atlanta 4-1 at Fenway as of the time this recap goes live, it appears that the Yankees are going to once again be stuck in sole possession of last place in the AL East. (Update: Yup.) Their record against everyone but the very worst teams in baseball says it all:
The #Yankees are 8-1 against the Royals and A's this year.— Max Goodman (@MaxTGoodman) July 26, 2023
They're 45-47 against everyone else.
The Yankees will hope to salvage a split tomorrow with Carlos Rodón on the mound taking on José Quintana. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 pm ET so be sure to join us in the game thread.