Well, I can’t say I was surprised to see the Yankees held to only one run Friday night given the starting lineup they ran out there. Blame the NL rules, I guess. The Mets won the first game of the second leg of the 2015 Subway Series by the score of 5-1.
Off The Hook
The Yankees lead baseball in first inning runs, and they jumped out to an early 1-0 lead over the Mets with some weak contact against Steven Matz. Brett Gardner worked a leadoff walk, moved to third on Carlos Beltran‘s bloop single — Gardner knew Curtis Granderson was in right and took advantage of his arm — then scored on Chris Young‘s routine fly ball to center field. Not much hard contact at all, but a run is a run. The Yankees struck first.
Unfortunately, the Yankees never scored again. Two singles and a botched bunt gave them some base-runners in the second inning, but they couldn’t get the big hit with two outs. Matz settled down after that, retiring nine straight batters from the second through fifth innings. The Yankees did have seven hits against the southpaw in six innings, but all six were singles, and only one or two were hard-hit. The game was there for the taking early on — Matz was up over 60 pitches after only three innings — and the Yankees never cashed in.
Masahiro Tanaka made three mistake pitches in his six innings Friday night. Lucas Duda hit the first off the facing off the second deck in right field for a solo home run in the second, Duda hit the second into the right field corner for a double in the fourth, and Daniel Murphy hit the third into the bullpen for a solo homer in the sixth. Tanaka made three mistakes and paid for them all.
All together, Tanaka allowed just those two runs on five hits in six innings. He struck out four, didn’t walk anyone, and got 12 of his other 14 outs on the infield. Tanaka had to come out of the game after throwing only 82 pitches because Joe Girardi needed to use a pinch-hitter leading off the seventh — they were down 2-1 and you’ve gotta get a real hitter in there — but otherwise he was good. He just paid for his mistakes. So it goes.
The Yankees had their best chance to take the lead in the sixth inning, after Didi Gregorius beat out an infield single with two outs to put runners at the corners. The problem? Brendan Ryan was due to up next. Girardi could have pinch-hit for him — Alex Rodriguez would have been the obvious movewith Matz’s pitch count getting up there — but whoever hit would have been walked to get to Tanaka’s spot, and taking him out of a 1-1 game in the sixth inning with his pitch count hovering around 70 seems crazy.
Anyway, Ryan grounded out on the first pitch, and the Yankees never had a serious chance to take the lead again. Chasen Shreve allowed a two-run homer to Juan Uribe in the seventh to give the Mets two important insurance runs, making it a 4-1 lead. Shreve has now allowed five runs in his last four innings, including three homers. He looks nothing like the guy he was for the first four months of the season.
To their credit, the Yankees did make it interesting in the ninth inning. Dustin Ackley doubled into the right field corner — he has three hits in his last three pinch-hitting appearances — and A-Rod pinch-walked, then Ellsbury lined a ball literally off Jeurys Familia to load the bases with one out. The tying run was at the plate. Gardner then flew out and Chase Headley struck out. Game over.
The Mets scored another insurance run in the eighth thanks to Jacoby Ellsbury‘s misplay in center field, giving Daniel Murphy a triple. It certainly wasn’t a routine play, but Ellsbury jumped for some reason and the ball deflected off his glove. Ellsbury also pinch-hit for Tanaka leading off the seventh and flied out weakly on the first pitch. He’s killing them.
Branden Pinder, James Pazos, and Andrew Bailey got one out each in the eighth inning and combined to allow the insurance run thanks to Ellsbury’s misplay. The bullpen allowed three runs in two innings and is up to 22 runs allowed in 33.1 innings over the last week. The relief crew, which was so strong the first four or five months of the season, has fallen apart this month.
Every starter had exactly one hit except Murphy and Tanaka. Ackley and Ellsbury had hits off the bench. Gardner and A-Rod drew the walks. The Yankees went 2-for-8 with runners in scoring position. Hard to believe they actually had eight at-bats in those spots. Didn’t feel like it.
Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
Here are the box score and video highlights as well as the updated standings and postseason odds. The Blue Jays beat the Red Sox, so the AL East deficit is a season-high 4.5 games with 16 to play. Time to start focusing on the wildcard, folks. The magic number to clinch a postseason spot remains 12. Here are our Bullpen Workload and Announcer Standings pages, and here’s the win probability graph:
Same two teams Saturday afternoon, in the middle game of this three-game series. Michael Pineda and Noah Syndergaard will be the pitching matchup in the matinee.