Game 17: Big Mike and the Mets


The Subway Series opens at Yankee Stadium this weekend. Three games in the Bronx now, then three games in Flushing in September. That’s better than the four-game home-and-home series we’ve had the last two years. Believe it or not, this is the very first time both teams are heading into the Subway Series at least tied for first place in their division. The Mets have the best record in baseball (13-3) while the Yankees are tied for first in the AL East with the Blue Jays and Red Sox (9-7).

Michael Pineda is on the bump tonight and is making his first start of the year on regular rest. It’s the same deal as Masahiro Tanaka yesterday — Big Mike made all his Spring Training and regular season starts with an extra day of rest by design. Tanaka pitched very well yesterday, so hopefully Pineda does the same. He’s coming off a stressful 92-pitch outing against the Rays. Here is the Mets’ lineup and here is the Yankees’ lineup:

  1. CF Jacoby Ellsbury
  2. LF Brett Gardner
  3. DH Alex Rodriguez
  4. 1B Mark Teixeira
  5. C Brian McCann
  6. RF Carlos Beltran
  7. 3B Chase Headley
  8. 2B Stephen Drew
  9. SS Didi Gregorius
    RHP Michael Pineda

It’s been pretty cold and windy in New York today and the weather will be the same tonight, only colder. Yuck. It’s been more than a week now since the Yankees last played a game outdoors in nice weather. First pitch is scheduled 7:05pm ET and you can watch on YES and WPIX locally as well as MLB Network nationally. Enjoy the game.

4/24 to 4/26 Subway Series Preview: New York Mets

Subway Series

The 2015 Subway Series begins tonight. Unlike the last few years, when the Mets and Yankees played a four-game home-and-home series, they’re playing three games at Yankee Stadium this weekend and another three games at Citi Field in September. I like that. It gives you a winner for each series. Both teams are playing well right now, so this should be the most exciting Subway Series we’ve seen in years.

What Have The Mets Done Lately?

Unless you’ve been completely unplugged from the baseball world, you know the Mets are riding an eleven-game winning streak coming into the series. All eleven wins came against the Braves, Phillies, and Marlins, but hey, you can only play who the schedule says you have to play. The Mets outscored their opponents 57-31 in the eleven games, though seven of the eleven were decided by two runs or less (five by one run). The Amazin’s have baseball’s best record at 13-3.

Offense & Defense

Manager Terry Collins has an offense that has been a tick better than average in terms of runs per game (4.56) but basically average in terms of wRC+ (99). Timing is everything. They’re getting hits at opportune times. The Mets are currently without both 3B David Wright (hamstring) and C Travis d’Arnaud (fingers), two of their three best position players, and they’re not due to return for a few weeks now. Big losses.

(Kevin C. Cox/Getty)
Duda. (Kevin C. Cox/Getty)

With Wright and d’Arnaud out, the Mets’ best player is 1B Lucas Duda (179 wRC+), who may be getting over his career-long inability to hit lefties thanks to some help from current Mets hitting coach and ex-Yankees hitting coach Kevin Long. It’s too early to say definitively though. OF Michael Cuddyer (125 wRC+) is off to a nice start and ex-Yank OF Curtis Granderson (93 wRC+) hasn’t hit (.200 AVG and .020 ISO), but he leads baseball with a ridiculous 21.9 BB%. Betcha the Grandyman hits at least one homer in the Bronx this weekend.

SS Wilmer Flores (128 wRC+) is getting hot at the plate and 2B Daniel Murphy (46 wRC+) has generally looked lost. UTIL Eric Campbell (109 wRC+) and C Kevin Plawecki (102 wRC+) are filling in at the hot corner and behind the plate, respectively. OF Juan Lagares (61 wRC+) had a huge Spring Training but a small regular season so far. OF John Mayberry Jr. (183 wRC+) platoons against righties and joins C Anthony Recker, IF Daniel Muno, IF Ruben Tejada, and OF Kirk Nieuwenhuis on the bench.

With Wright and d’Arnaud injured, Lagares is the only clearly better than average defender on the field for the Mets. He’s a stud in center. The scouting reports say Plawecki is strong behind the plate but he’s only played two games, so we haven’t seen him much. Flores and Murphy are a brutal double play combination, maybe the worst defensively in baseball, and Duda is no great shakes at first. To his credit, he’s worked hard to go from abysmal to playable. Cuddyer is below-average in left and Granderson is average at best in right, but he can’t throw. Just don’t hit it to Lagares, basically.

Pitching Matchups

Friday: RHP Michael Pineda (Career vs. NYM) vs. RHP Jacob deGrom (Career vs. NYY)
The 26-year-old deGrom is the reigning NL Rookie of the Year, and he actually made his MLB debut against the Yankees at Citi Field last season. (Chase Whitley also made his MLB debut in that game.) deGrom has a 0.93 ERA (2.45 FIP) with good strikeout (21.8%) and ground ball (44.4%) rates to go with excellent walk (3.9%) and homer (0.47 HR/9) rates this year. He’s been much stingier against righties (.256 wOBA) than lefties (.298 wOBA) so far in his young career. When he’s on, deGrom has maybe the best fastball command in baseball, sitting in the mid-90s with both his two and four-seamers, and locating both pitches flawlessly. His array of secondary pitches include an upper-80s slider, a mid-80s changeup, and a low-80s curveball. The curve is his fifth pitch but he still uses it regularly, about 10% of the time or so. deGrom is a late bloomer who played shortstop in college, yet he has developed into one of the best starters in the game right now.

"The Dark Knight" is a terrible baseball nickname. (Al Bello/Getty)
“The Dark Knight” is a terrible baseball nickname. (Al Bello/Getty)

Saturday: LHP CC Sabathia (Career vs. NYM) vs. RHP Matt Harvey (Career vs. NYY)
Harvey has allowed seven runs in 18 innings in his first three starts back from Tommy John surgery (3.50 ERA), but his underlying performance has been insane. He’s struck out 24 (32.0%) and walked just one (1.3%), leading to a 2.34 FIP. Harvey’s ground ball rate is about average (40.0%) and he’s served up two homers, both in his last start to the Phillies. He has a reverse split both this year and throughout his MLB career — lefties have a .228 wOBA against Harvey in his career while righties have a .274 wOBA. Weird. Elbow reconstruction has not sapped any of Harvey’s stuff. The 26-year-old still sits mid-to-upper-90s with his heater and has a devastating upper-80s slider. He’ll also throw quality mid-80s changeups and low-80s curveballs. Harvey is one of the very few pitchers who legitimately takes four out pitches to the mound on his best days. He and Felix Hernandez are pretty much the only guys who can say that. Harvey’s shown he’s an adrenaline junkie, so expect him to be amped up Saturday.

Sunday: RHP Nathan Eovaldi (Career vs. NYM) vs. LHP Jon Niese (Career vs. NYY)
Compared to deGrom and Harvey, the 28-year-old Niese is a bore. He has a 1.50 ERA (4.79 FIP) in 18 innings so far this year with strikeout (12.9%) and walk (9.4%) rates that are a little too close together in the early going. Niese is getting a ton of grounders (58.1%) and he’s traditionally been a bit better against lefties than righties throughout his career. Some arm injuries — both elbow and shoulder — have sapped Niese’s velocity in recent years, so he now sits in the upper-80s with his two and four-seamer and mid-80s with his cutter. Low-80s changeups and upper-70s curveballs are his go-to secondary pitches. Niese has been a really good pitcher for several years now. Just because he’s not deGrom or Harvey doesn’t mean he isn’t a tough draw for the Yankees.

Jeurys. (Elsa/Getty)
Jeurys. (Elsa/Getty)

Bullpen Status
Injuries have really decimated the Mets bullpen. They’re without closer RHP Bobby Parnell (Tommy John surgery), backup closer RHP Jenrry Mejia (elbow), setup man RHP Vic Black (shoulder), lefty specialist LHP Jerry Blevins (forearm), and secondary lefty specialist LHP Josh Edgin (Tommy John surgery). That’s a lot of quality relievers out of action for extended periods of time.

So, with all those guys hurt, Collins is using RHP Jeurys Familia (2.86 FIP) as closer and RHP Buddy Carlyle (1.57 FIP) as the setup man. Carlyle spent some time with the Yankees in 2011. He and Familia have each pitched in the last two games, by the way. LHP Alex Torres (3.07 FIP) is now the team’s go-to lefty and RHP Carlos Torres (2.91 FIP) does a little of everything. Setup work, middle relief, long relief, you name it. Rule 5 Draft pick LHP Sean Gilmartin (6.07 FIP), RHP Erik Goeddel (5.32 FIP), and RHP Hansel Robles round out the bullpen. Robles was just called up and has yet to make his MLB debut.

Head over to our Bullpen Workload page for the status of Joe Girardi‘s relievers. Then head over to Amazin’ Avenue and Metsblog for everything you need to know about New York’s fourth most historically relevant baseball franchise.

Supply and demand match up, but Yankees and Mets are imperfect trade partners

Niese. (Presswire)
Niese. (Presswire)

Spring Training has not been so kind to the Mets so far. Earlier this week they lost young right-hander Zack Wheeler to a torn elbow ligament, meaning he will soon have Tommy John surgery. That comes just a few days after the team learned top lefty reliever Josh Edgin also needs his elbow rebuilt. That’s two members of the projected Opening Day pitching staff going down with Tommy John surgery in the span of four or five days. Ouch.

The Mets have an enviable amount of rotation depth — they are probably best equipped to deal with a major pitching injury of any team in MLB right now — and have plenty of options to replace Wheeler. Edgin is a different matter. Their best option to replace him is probably Rule 5 Draft pick Sean Gilmartin, and I imagine a Rule 5 guy is not someone they want to thrust into the primary lefty relief role. GM Sandy Alderson has already said they will explore the market for a lefty reliever.

That’s where the Yankees come in. The Yankees have lefty relievers in spades and are in need of rotation depth, something they needed even before Chris Capuano strained his quad last week. The Mets, as I said, have a ton of rotation options. Enough to fill in for Wheeler, trade someone, and still have enough arms for depth. I mean, seriously. Look at their rotation depth chart without Wheeler:

  1. Matt Harvey — totally awesome
  2. Jacob deGrom — just named NL Rookie of the Year
  3. Jon Niese — boringly effective
  4. Bartolo Colon — Bartday!
  5. Dillon Gee — generic fifth starter who won’t kill his team
  6. Rafael Montero — 3.60 ERA (3.66 FIP) in Triple-A in 2014, named 68th best prospect in baseball by Baseball America prior last year
  7. Noah Syndergaard — ranked as 11th best prospect in baseball by Baseball America this spring
  8. Steve Matz — ranked as 33rd best prospect in baseball by Baseball America this spring

That’s a lot of pitching! Montero and Syndergaard are basically MLB ready while Matz has yet to reach Triple-A and is more of a second half option this coming season. Either way, the Mets are loaded with high-end rotation help, so much so that they spent all winter trying to unload Gee’s $5.3M salary. Given their depth, I don’t think Wheeler’s injury would stop them from trading Gee either.

The Yankees, meanwhile, have a whole lot of left-handed relievers. They made a point of acquiring southpaw relievers this winter similar to how the Mets focused on adding to high-end pitching prospects while trading away veterans in recent years. The Yankees sending a lefty reliever to Flushing for a spare starter makes sense in a vacuum, but in reality it might not be easy to find a match on value. Take a look at Yankees’ lefty bullpen depth chart:

  1. Andrew Miller — not getting traded
  2. Justin Wilson — tradeable
  3. Chasen Shreve — tradeable
  4. Jacob Lindgren — unlikely to be traded, but either way he can only be dealt as a player to be named later until June since he was just drafted last year, meaning he wouldn’t be able to help the Mets come Opening Day
  5. James Pazos — throws hard, zero MLB experience
  6. Tyler Webb — doesn’t throw hard, zero MLB experience

So that’s six lefty relievers but only two are tradeable right now. Maybe the Mets really like Pazos and/or Webb, but if they’re going to go with someone who has no MLB experience, they’d probably stick in house with Gilmartin or Jack Leathersich, who had great minor league numbers (3.16 ERA and 2.46 FIP between Double-A and Triple-A) last year like Pazos and Webb. Wilson and Shreve are the only movable pieces right now.

On the other hand, the Mets sure as hell won’t trade Harvey, deGrom, Syndergaard, or Matz. They might be willing to move Montero in the right deal — there was talk of a Montero for Nick Franklin swap last spring but that didn’t happen even though the Mets desperately need a shortstop — but I’m not sure a lefty reliever is that right deal. Even a dirt cheap lefty reliever under control for multiple years. That leaves Colon, who the Mets would probably give away right now, Gee, and Niese as the tradeable starters.

Shreve. (Presswire)
Shreve. (Presswire)

The Yankees wouldn’t trade Wilson or Shreve for Colon or Gee, who barely move the needle at this point. On the other hand, the Mets wouldn’t trade Niese for Wilson or Shreve. Heck they wouldn’t trade Niese for Wilson and Shreve. Niese is good! And he has a favorable contract too. He’s not someone they’re looking to dump for the sake of shedding salary like Colon or Gee. A straight up spare lefty reliever for spare starter trade isn’t happening between these two clubs, which means the pot would have to be sweetened somehow. (Brendan Ryan doesn’t count.)

The Yankees and Mets haven’t made a trade involving actually big league players (sorry, Gonzalez Germen) since the Mike Stanton-Felix Heredia swap way back in December 2004. I don’t think Alderson or Brian Cashman would hesitate to trade with one another, however. Maybe one (or both) of the ownership groups would be hesitant, but Alderson and Cashman are smart guys looking to improve their teams however they can. If that means trading with a geographical rival, so be it. Finding common ground on a trade like this seems like it would be difficult.

On paper, the Yankees and Mets match up well for a trade. The Yankees need a starter and have a ton of lefty relievers while the Mets need a lefty reliever and have some extra starters. But, when you take a deeper look at who actually is and isn’t available, there isn’t a great match. Maybe the Mets love Webb and the Yankees are willing to take on Colon’s hefty salary, that’s always possible. It just seems unlikely. Perhaps the situation will change in the weeks before Opening Day, but, as of this moment, it’s tough to see how these two clubs can find common ground without substantially expanding the trade.

Yanks hang on for 1-0 win over Mets in Whitley’s first start

Baseball is weird, man. The Mets destroyed the Yankees and their pitching staff in the first two games of the Subway Series, scoring 21 runs in the two games at Yankee Stadium. Then, naturally, the Yankees shut their crosstown rivals out in the two games at Citi Field. Rookie starter Chase Whitley and three relievers followed Masahiro Tanaka‘s shutout with a combined shutout of their own on Thursday. The final score was 1-0.


One Run? That’s All You’ll Get And You’ll Like It
This game was a pitcher’s duel for the first 6+ innings. Whitley (more on him in a bit) and fellow rookie righty Jacob deGrom traded zeroes for a while, and it wasn’t until there were two outs in the seventh that the Yankees broke through. Mark Teixeira drew a one-out walk but was erased at second on Brian McCann‘s fielder’s choice. He beat out the would-be double play thanks to a poor relay throw from second. Alfonso Soriano made the Mets pay with a double into the left-center field gap, scoring McCann all the way from first base. He was huffing and puffing the whole way.

Aside from that rally, the only other time the Yankees put a runner at third base came in the eighth inning, when Derek Jeter grounded out weakly to short with the infield in. The runner was cut down at the plate. Kelly Johnson and Brett Gardner drew walks earlier in the inning and advanced on a wild pitch. deGrom retired eleven in a row at one point and looked very sharp in the middle innings. The Yankees had their hands full with the rookie hurler. He made basically one mistake pitch in that seventh inning and they pounced.

(Mike Stobe/Getty)
(Mike Stobe/Getty)

Whitley’s Debut
Based on the fact that he picked up his first career hit before allowing his first career hit, Whitley’s big league debut was a success. Throw in the fact that he held the Mets to two singles and two walks in 4.2 scoreless innings and I’d say it was a definite success. Despite his lack of experience as a starter, Whitley didn’t seem nervous on the mound and he filled the strike zone before tiring in the fifth inning. It was only the fourth scoreless MLB debut by a starter in team history and the first since Sam Militello in 1992. Yep.

I’m sure Joe Girardi was very tempted to let Whitley get the final out of that fifth inning, especially since the pitcher’s spot was due to lead off the next half-inning, but I thought he pulled him at just the right time. Whitley was starting to tire in that final inning (back-to-back walks) even though he threw only 74 pitches on the night — his season-high in Triple-A was 88 pitches two weeks ago, his only game over 78 pitches — and the most important thing is always winning the game. The bullpen bailed him out of the second-and-third jam and Whitley can spend the next few days feeling good about his debut.

All told, Whitely struck out four and got eight ground ball outs compared to only two in the air. The only hard hit ball was Lucas Duda’s fly out to the left-center field warning track to end the second inning. That’s it. The two hits were a ground ball through the right side and a bloop to center. Whitley was missing barrels, that’s for sure. Here’s hit pitch breakdown, courtesy of Brooks Baseball (PitchFX data may change overnight):

  • 37 fastballs, 26 strikes, three whiffs, averaged 92.3 mph and topped out at 94.4
  • 23 changeups, 10 strikes, four whiffs, averaged 84.8 and topped out at 87.9
  • 14 sliders, seven strikes, three whiffs, averaged 86.8 and topped out at 88.8

The Yankees’ pitching staff is full of opportunity right now and I have to think Whitley will make another start in five days (six, really, because of an off-day). He’ll remain in the rotation almost by default. Whitley pitched very well though, especially considering he’s been a starting pitcher for basically two and a half months. He gave the Yankees a much needed shot in the arm — this was the first scoreless outing by one of the team’s non-Tanaka starters in four weeks, since Vidal Nuno in Tampa — and it was good to see someone come up from Triple-A and contribute right away for once.


Brilliant Bullpen
Dellin Betances came into this game with a 41.3% strikeout rate (14.85 K/9) and left it with a 44.8% strikeout rate (15.72 K/9). The big man got a ground ball to third to escape Whitley’s jam in the fifth inning, then he tacked on another two scoreless innings. He struck out the side. Both times. Seven batters faced and six strikeouts, all in a row. Betances was overpowering. The Mets had no chance. David Robertson is awesome, but I can’t remember the last time the Yankees had a pitcher this dominant on an inning-by-inning basis. Maybe Mariano Rivera in 1996? Dellin’s awesome.

Adam Warren got the ball to start the eighth inning, and he ran into a little self-inflicted pickle by walking the reanimated corpse of Bobby Abreu with one out. Following an Eric Young Jr. strikeout, Daniel Murphy put runners on the corners with two outs by slapping a soft ground ball single inside the third base foul line. Girardi did what he said he would do a few days ago and went to Robertson for a four-out save, which was absolutely the right move. One-run game, runners on the corners, David Wright at the plate? Get your best reliever in there. Robertson coaxed a ground out from Wright and then tossed a 1-2-3 ninth for his seventh save. Girardi did a great job with the bullpen by going to Betances and Robertson in the biggest spots of the game.


According to the batted ball data at FanGraphs, Jeter hasn’t hit a ball in the air since last Wednesday, the final game of the series in Anaheim. He made four outs in three plate appearances in this game (lined softly back to the pitcher for a double play) and failed to get an insurance run in from third in the seventh inning when the runner was thrown out at home. Jeter was double-switched out of the game when Robertson was brought in, a move that would not have happened had the game been played in an AL. I wouldn’t expect this to be a regular thing. Either way, the Cap’n could probably use a day or two off this weekend.

Yangervis Solarte had really rough day, going 0-for-4 with a strikeout and two double plays. He killed a potential rally in the ninth with a double play and I thought Girardi should have challenged the call at first. It was very close and replays showed he probably out, but in that situation, just use the challenge and see if you get lucky. Maybe the umpire in Midtown sees it differently. I understand wanting to save the challenge for potential call in the bottom of the ninth (you could always “encourage” the umps to review a play in the ninth, as per the rulebook), but chances are you won’t need it and the rally could have been extended. Oh well.

The Yankees only had six hits on the night, including two by Soriano. Jacoby Ellsbury doubled, Teixeira single, McCann singled, and Whitley singled. Gardner drew two walks while Teixeira and Johnson drew one apiece. Zoilo Almonte struck out in his first at-bat of the season, which wasn’t surprising considering he was facing a lefty. He is a switch-hitter, but that doesn’t mean much. He had a .946 OPS against righties in Triple-A compared to a .392 OPS against lefties. Eek.

In addition to his 44.8% strikeout rate, Betances is now down to a 0.82 FIP on the season. The three relievers combined to strike out ten batters in 4.1 innings and they did not allow a ball to leave the infield in the air. Murphy’s single that stayed just fair as it rolled by third base was the only ball they allowed to leave the infield in general.

Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings has the box score and video highlights, FanGraphs some other stats, and ESPN the updated standings.

Source: FanGraphs

Up Next
The Yankees continue the Yankee Stadium portion of the homestand with a three-game series against the Pirates this weekend. Edinson Volquez and David Phelps kick that one off on Friday night. Worst pitching matchup of the year? Possibly. RAB Tickets can get you in the door if you want to catch any of the three games.

Game 40: Two Debuts

Whitley. (Presswire)

Thanks to injuries to each team’s Opening Day starter, both the Yankees and Mets will have a pitcher make his MLB debut tonight. Righty Chase Whitley is filling in for CC Sabathia (knee) while fellow righty Jacob deGrom steps in for Dillon Gee (lat). Neither Whitley nor deGrom is a top prospect, but they have the potential to be useful big league arms in some capacity. Whitley only recently converted from reliever to starter, so it’ll be interesting to see how he handles turning over a big league lineup.

Via Bryan Hoch, Elias says this is the first time the Yankees have been involved in a game in which both starters were making their MLB debut since October 1908. They were still the Highlanders back then. That is kinda nuts. The Mets were involved in one of these games back in September 2010, when Gee made his debut against Yunesky Maya. That’s the last time two starters have made their debuts in the same game. It just so happened to include the Mets. Here is the Mets lineup and here is the Yankees lineup:

  1. LF Brett Gardner
  2. SS Derek Jeter
  3. CF Jacoby Ellsbury
  4. 1B Mark Teixeira
  5. C Brian McCann
  6. RF Alfonso Soriano
  7. 3B Yangervis Solarte
  8. 2B Brian Roberts
  9. RHP Chase Whitley

It is cloudy and cool in New York, and it was raining overnight and for a good chunk of the morning. There is no more rain in the forecast though, so they shouldn’t have any trouble getting this game in. First pitch is scheduled for 7:10pm ET and you’ll be able to watch on both YES and SNY locally, as well as MLB Network nationally. Depending on where you live, of course. Enjoy the game.

Roster Moves: In case you missed it earlier, Carlos Beltran (elbow) has been placed on the 15-day DL. That cleared a 25-man roster spot for Whitley. The Yankees are back to a normal seven-man bullpen and four-man bench. Righty Bruce Billings was activated off the 15-day DL and designated for assignment to clear a 40-man roster spot for Whitley, the team announced. He was out with a forearm strain.

Stopper: Tanaka snaps four-game skid with 4-0 shutout of Mets

No matter how long the losing streak gets and no matter how much the other starters get knocked around, every fifth day there is Masahiro Tanaka to make things right. The Yankees ace chucked his first career MLB shutout on Wednesday night, carrying his team to a 4-0 win over the Mets. It was their first Subway Series win since 2012. I’m taking about an individual game, not the whole season series.

"When do the Major League games start?" (Al Bello/Getty)
“When do the Major League games start?” (Al Bello/Getty)

Total Domination
The Yankees have won five games in the month of May and Tanaka has been on the mound for three of them. He was in total control on Wednesday, basically playing a game of catch with catcher Brian McCann and having his way with opposing hitters all night. Tanaka allowed three singles and one double in his nine scoreless innings, striking out eight and generating 22 swings and misses out of 114 low-stress pitches. He face the minimum three hitters in six of nine innings and only faced four batters in the other three innings.

The Mets did not have a runner reach third base against Tanaka and only two made it as far as second. Tanaka threw a first pitch strike to 21 of 30 batters and only went to three three-ball counts all night. By Game Score (87), this was the best pitched game by a Yankees starter since … Tanaka last month. He also had an 87 Game Score in that game against the Cubs (8 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 10 K). Tanaka is the first Yankee with two 87+ Game Scores in a single season since Mike Mussina in 2002. It’s only May.

And just because what he did on the mound wasn’t enough, Tanaka slapped a ground ball single back up the middle for his first career MLB hit in the ninth inning. You know a pitcher has done his job when he get four at-bats in a game. Tanaka was masterful, putting hitters away with every pitch in his arsenal — he got a swing-and-miss with five different pitches and at least six whiffs with three different pitches (four-seamer, splitter, slider) according to Brooks Baseball — and never once ran into trouble. This guy is in total control when he’s on the mound. It’s a blast to watch.


One Run, Four Times
The Yankees built something of a picket fence in the middle innings, scoring one run in each of the second, fourth, sixth, and seventh innings. The first run scored because Mets left fielder Eric Young Jr. made the bone-headed decision to dive for a soft line drive, only to fall short and watch the ball scoot by him for a Brian Roberts triple. Yangervis Solarte drew a walk before that and came around to score. There were two outs in the inning and Tanaka was due to hit. Why in the world is he diving? Whatever.

The second and third runs were pretty straight forward: Solarte jumped all over a 3-1 fastball for his fourth homer — if he starts regularly hitting dingers, oh boy — and Mark Teixeira yanked a 1-0 pitch out into the bullpen for his team-leading eighth homer. Solarte’s was a annihilated and he hit it with style too, dropping to one knee a la Adrian Beltre. Here is the requisite GIF:

Yangervis Solarte


The Yankees scored their fourth run with two hits that traveled maybe 100 feet combined. Brett Gardner beat out an infield single to second base, stole second, moved to third on a wild pitch, and scored on Derek Jeter‘s chopper out in front of the plate. The throw pulled first baseman Lucas Duda off the bag and Jeter was safe, which was good because they were two outs in the inning. I wonder if Joe Girardi would have gone to David Robertson in the ninth inning if the score was 3-0 instead of 4-0? I guess we’ll never know.

The Yankees had at least one man on base in seven of nine innings and really worked rookie right-hander Rafael Montero hard early on. He threw 69 pitches in the first three innings — at one point he and Tuesday’s starter Zack Wheeler had combined to throw 187 pitches to get 22 outs — and wound up throwing 108 pitches in six innings. He faced 25 hitters and had to throw at least four pitches to 14 of them. The Yankees really wore Montero down in his MLB debut. They have now scored at least four runs in each of their last eight games, their longest such streak since doing it in 12 straight back in July 2012.

Three rookies. (Getty)
Three rookies. (Getty)

Roberts went 2-for-4 with two triples, the first two-triple game of his career. He was pretty awesome and fast back in the day. I figured he would have had two triples in one game at some point, but I guess not. It’s the first two-triple game by a Yankee since Curtis Granderson in 2010. Gardner had two more hits and is 22-for-62 (.355) in his last 16 games. Jeter (single), Teixeira (homer), Solarte (homer), and Tanaka (single) had the other hits while Jacoby Ellsbury and Solarte drew walks.

The daily defensive miscue did not come back to bite the Yankees on Wednesday. In the bottom of the first, as he was trotting out to shallow right field for the shift, Solarte got caught with his back to infield and Daniel Murphy stole second base uncontested. The Mets tried it again in the fifth inning, but Solarte was paying attention and he got to the bag in time to receive the throw and tag out Chris Young.

And finally, Tanaka is pretty awesome. I just needed to say that again. I’m sure you understand.

Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
For the box score and video highlights, go to For some additional stats, go to FanGraphs. For the updated standings, go to ESPN. The Yankees have lost nine of their last 14 games are still a half-game back of the Orioles for the division lead. The AL East sucks this year.

Source: FanGraphs

Up Next
The Yankees and Mets wrap up the 2014 Subway Series on Thursday night at Citi Field. The starters — Chase Whitley and Jacob deGrom — will both be making their MLB debuts. It will be the first time two starters make their big league debut in one game since September 2010 (Dillon Gee and Yunesky Maya) according to @BRefPlayIndex. Neat. Check out RAB Tickets if you want to catch the game live.

Game 39: Save Us, Masahiro

(Mike McGinnis/Getty)
(Mike McGinnis/Getty)

The current rotation has a very 2008 vibe to it, with Masahiro Tanaka playing the role of Mike Mussina and Michael Pineda playing the role of Chien-Ming Wang. Once Wang went down, the rotation was Moose and pray for rain that year. It was pretty ugly, especially in the second half. Right now it’s Tanaka and no one else. He’s the only guy in the rotation who legitimately gives the club a chance to win each time out.

The Mets, meanwhile, are starting rookie righty Rafael Montero tonight. He will be the fifth pitcher to make his MLB debut during the Subway Series and the first since David Robertson in 2008. The others: Tyler Clippard, Brandon Claussen, and someone named Jaime Cerda. Baseball America ranked Montero as the 68th best prospect in the game before the season but I thought they underrated him a bit. He’s the steady, reliable one while Noah Syndergaard is more flashy and exciting. Think of Montero as Matt Cain and Syndergaard as Tim Lincecum.

Anyway, here is a breakdown of Montero courtesy of MLB Farm. The Yankees have lost each of their last four games overall and each of their last six games to the Mets, dating back to last season. That’s pretty annoying. Hopefully Tanaka takes care of business. Here is the Mets lineup and here is the Yankees lineup:

  1. LF Brett Gardner
  2. SS Derek Jeter
  3. CF Jacoby Ellsbury
  4. 1B Mark Teixeira
  5. C Brian McCann
  6. DH Alfonso Soriano
  7. 3B Yangervis Solarte
  8. 2B Brian Roberts
  9. RHP Masahiro Tanaka

It has been cloudy and cool in New York all day, but there’s no rain in the forecast. Tonight’s game will air on both My9 and SNY locally as well as ESPN nationally. First pitch is scheduled for 7pm ET. Enjoy.

Injury Updates: Ichiro Suzuki (back) feels better but is still questionable for tonight’s game. He did some running and hit in the batting cage both today and yesterday … Carlos Beltran (elbow) received treatment and feels “a little better,” though he remains in wait-and-see mode … the Yankees still have four available bench players even with Ichiro and Beltran banged up, so they’re in decent shape for the DH-less game.

Bullpen Update: There were no roster moves made, so Alfredo Aceves and Matt Daley remain on the roster despite yesterday’s extended outings. David Phelps did not throw his usual between starts side session and can throw an inning or two tonight, if need be.

Mets Rotation Update: The Mets placed right-hander Dillon Gee on the 15-day DL with a lat strain this afternoon. Righty Jacob deGrom will start tomorrow night’s Subway Series finale in his place. It will be his MLB debut.