The Rest of MLB [2016 Season Preview]

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

The new season is upon us. Opening Day is Monday, which means it’s time to wrap up our annual Season Preview series. As always, we’ll end the series with a quick look around the league. Some of this is serious, most of it isn’t. Enjoy.

Arizona Diamondbacks
Why They’ll Suck: The middle infield is a mess and their corner outfield defense is going to be pretty bad if Yasmany Tomas plays left everyday. Also, they’ll probably trade some good players to unload a bad contract again.
Bold Prediction: Shelby Miller actually pitches well. I have no idea why so many analysts think he’s bad.

Atlanta Braves
Why They’ll Suck: Because they are trying to suck. Rebuilding is just a nice way of saying tanking.
Bold Prediction: Nick Markakis beats his ZiPS projection and slugs .370.

Chicago Cubs
Why They’ll Suck: They’re going to strike out way too much. It’s also only a matter of time until someone gets bit by some wild animal Joe Maddon brings into the clubhouse.
Bold Prediction: Adam Warren is their best starter. Boom!

Chicago White Sox
Why They’ll Suck: They lost their leader, Drake LaRoche.
Bold Prediction: We find out Adam LaRoche was the one who complained about Drake LaRoche being in the clubhouse all the time.

Cincinnati Reds
Why They’ll Suck: Their rotation is Homer Bailey, Anthony DeSclafani, Michael Lorenzen, Jon Moscot, and John Lamb. No, wait, that’s the list of their injured starters. Now they have to turn to the B-team.
Bold Prediction: Joey Votto finally loses his mind, but in a polite, Canadian way. He’s already doing this between pitches:

Joey Votto

Cleveland Indians
Why They’ll Suck: In all seriousness, their entire starting outfield is either hurt (Michael Brantley, Lonnie Chisenhall) or suspended (Abe Almonte). They’re a Corey Kluber or Carlos Carrasco injury away from 85 losses. Beware.
Bold Prediction: Francisco Lindor leads all shortstops in WAR.

Colorado Rockies
Why They’ll Suck: The Rockies exist in a perpetual state of suck. Fun Fact: They have never once won a division title. They’ve finished as high as second place only three times in their 23 years of existence.
Bold Prediction: They finally trade Carlos Gonzalez. I’m thinking … Orioles.

Detroit Tigers
Why They’ll Suck: They’ve punted defense at the four corner positions and, inevitably, the relievers they acquired this winter will stink.
Bold Prediction: Justin Verlander bounces back and finished in the top five of the Cy Young voting.

Houston Astros
Why They’ll Suck: Karma for doing very little in the offseason outside of adding a new closer and fifth starter. The rebuild is supposed to be over.
Bold Prediction: Carlos Correa is more Alex Gonzalez than Alex Rodriguez.

Kansas City Royals
Why They’ll Suck: They replaced Johnny Cueto and Ben Zobrist with Ian Kennedy and Christian Colon. Like, on purpose.
Bold Prediction: Kennedy wins 18 games and Colon hits .310. Eff the Royals, man.

Los Angeles Angels
Why They’ll Suck: The Angels have surrounded Mike Trout with as little position player talent as possible in an effort to make him look even greater by comparison.
Bold Prediction: Jered Weaver’s fastball hits 84 mph once or twice.

Los Angeles Dodgers
Why They’ll Suck: The Dodgers have surrounded Clayton Kershaw with as little pitching talent as possible in an effort to make him look even greater by comparison.
Bold Prediction: It becomes clear Yasiel Puig peaked early.

Miami Marlins
Why They’ll Suck: The fans and players are doomed to pay for Jeffrey Loria’s evil villian-ness. Fun Fact: They’ve never won a division title either. They’ve also never lost a postseason series.
Bold Prediction: Christian Yelich breaks out and puts up Andrew McCutchen numbers. I’m serious about that one.

Milwaukee Brewers
Why They’ll Suck: They’re another team that is going to suck on purpose. Before long they’re going to trade Jonathan Lucroy too.
Bold Prediction: Ramon Flores hits 15 dingers with a .350 OBP.

Minnesota Twins
Why They’ll Suck: I don’t know, but I’m sure Twins fans will blame it on Joe Mauer.
Bold Prediction: Miguel Sano plays right field better than Torii Hunter did last year.

New York Mets
Why They’ll Suck: They’re still the Mets. Case in point: the recent Matt Harvey bladder story. Last year’s pennant didn’t change anything in that regard.
Bold Prediction: They have to trade for a starting pitcher at the deadline.

Oakland Athletics
Why They’ll Suck: No joke, I can name only one A’s starter (Sonny Gray) and one A’s infielder (Marcus Semien). Is Bobby Crosby still playing?
Bold Prediction: Josh Reddick gets traded for a holy crap package at the trade deadline. I’m thinking … Royals.

Philadelphia Phillies
Why They’ll Suck: Still reeling from the 2009 World Series, obviously.
Bold Prediction: Someone not named Maikel Franco or Ryan Howard hits a home run.

Pittsburgh Pirates
Why They’ll Suck: The baseball gods will not let John Jaso’s hair go unpunished.

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

Bold Prediction: Mark Melancon is traded at the deadline. I’m thinking … Dodgers.

St. Louis Cardinals
Why They’ll Suck: The Cardinals will never suck. The only thing they suck at is sucking. Their ace made four starts and their highest paid position player hit four home runs last season, and they still won 100 games. The Cardinals, man.
Bold Prediction: Three years after learning to play second base and one year after learning to hit for power, Matt Carpenter picks up pitching and saves 46 games.

San Diego Padres
Why They’ll Suck: I’m not entirely convinced the Padres exist at this point. Are we sure MLB still lets them into the league? What an amazingly nondescript franchise.
Bold Prediction: Someone throws the first no-hitter in franchise history. I’ll go with Colin Rea, who is a real player and definitely not someone I just made up.

San Francisco Giants
Why They’ll Suck: They buy into the “even year trend” a little too much and give Buster Posey and Madison Bumgarner weeks off at a time this summer.
Bold Prediction: Bumgarner out-slugs the starting outfield.

Seattle Mariners
Why They’ll Suck: I don’t know how it will happen exactly, but they’ll suck. The Mariners are the Wile E. Coyote of MLB. Every time they looked poised for success, they crash into the mountain with a tunnel painted on the side of it.
Bold Prediction: Bob Cano mashes 30 taters and finishes in the top three of the MVP voting. I’m expecting a big year from Robbie.

Texas Rangers
Why They’ll Suck: They won’t suck. They’ll be just good enough to get thisclose to winning something meaningful before having it ripped away again. Think Game Six of the 2011 World Series, or the seventh inning of Game Five of last year’s ALDS. That’s how the Rangers roll.
Bold Prediction: Josh Hamilton leads the team in home runs.

Washington Nationals
Why They’ll Suck: They’re the NL version of the Red Sox. They have talent and everyone buys the hype. It should work! But it doesn’t.

Homer Simpson

Bold Prediction: Bryce Harper is even better this year.

Saturday Links: Hicks, Revenue Sharing, Garagiola

Hicks. (Presswire)
Hicks. (Presswire)

The Yankees begin their final week of exhibition games a little later this afternoon. Only seven days of Grapefruit League play to go. Hooray for that. Here are some links to help you pass the time until today’s game thread comes along.

Hicks among Law’s top breakout candidates

Earlier this week, Keith Law (subs. req’d) posted his annual list of the top breakout candidates for the upcoming season. These are post-hype players. Guys who were once highly touted prospects, have been in a show for a little while now, and are ready to break out and live up to their potential. Aaron Hicks is among then. Here’s a snippet of Law’s write-up:

Hicks, like Schoop, came up before his bat was ready — his glove was ready, but his bat had developed gradually over the previous three years — and in hindsight it appears skipping Triple-A was the wrong move for him. He was a different hitter in 2015, becoming much less passive, taking fewer strikes and looking more for pitches to drive when he was ahead in the count. Now he’s moving to a better park for power and will have a full-time job from day one.

Hicks will not have a “full-time job from day one” — Law said he was joking about the injury and age concerns in the outfield — but he’s going to play a lot. The Yankees have made it pretty clear. It’s possible Hicks will end up starting something like four out of every five games as the regulars rest. He made some adjustments last year and it appears Hicks might indeed be on the verge of a breakout. I’m excited to see what happens this summer.

Levine takes shots at Mets over revenue sharing

According to Ken Rosenthal, Yankees team president Randy Levine took some shots at the Mets over the revenue sharing system. “What is very burdensome to us — and is unfair — is the amount of money we have to pay in revenue sharing compared, for example, to teams in our market that pay ten times less than us,” said Levine. “Hopefully that is something that will get looked at in the next labor agreement.”

The Yankees pay more money into revenue sharing than any other team — Levine said they paid roughly $90M in revenue sharing last year — because they generate more revenue than every other team. There’s no mystery here. Commissioner Rob Manfred told Rosenthal the Yankees have been very supportive of the revenue sharing system, though they are looking forward to seeing proposed changes for the upcoming Collective Bargaining Agreement.

I doubt Levine and the Yankees will gripe too much about the Mets or any other team — I’m sure the Yankees do plenty of fancy accounting and don’t want MLB digging too deep — but obviously they think it’s unfair they’re paying so much more than a team in the same market. We’ll see how the revenue sharing system is tweaked with the next CBA, if at all.

Joe Garagiola passes away at 90

Sad news to pass along: former Yankees announcer Joe Garagiola passed away earlier this week. He was 90. Garagiola grew up with Yogi Berra in St. Louis and the two were lifelong friends — the Cardinals signed Garagiola, not Berra, out of a tryout camp in 1943 — and he played for four teams from 1946-54. After his playing career ended, Garagiola got into broadcasting, and he called Yankees games on WPIX from 1965-67. He spent most of his career on NBC’s lead broadcasting team. Our condolences go out to Garagiola’s family and friends.

2015 Winter Meetings Open Thread: Monday

2016 Winter Meetings

The 2015 Winter Meetings begin today in Nashville. Well, they actually began yesterday with some minor league presentations and stuff, but the fun stuff starts today. As always, there will be a ton of rumors and trades and free agent signings out of the Winter Meetings this week. Will the Yankees be in on the action? Maybe!

“Our team is fairly set, but we’re open to exploring any and all trade opportunities. If we can improve our team, we’ll do it. If we can’t, we won’t,” said Brian Cashman to Wally Matthews recently. He told Dan Barbarisi the team is focused more on trades than free agency — the Yankees are said to be seeking young pitching in any deal — but thinks they’ll end up holding onto Brett Gardner and Andrew Miller. We’ll see.

We’ll keep track of any and all (legitimate) Yankees-related rumors right here throughout the day. Use this thread to talk about all the Winter Meetings action and keep the other threads on topic. Thanks in advance. All time stamps are ET. (Last year they were in San Diego and the time difference created a big headache.)

  • 11:30am: Andrew Miller remains available and the Yankees continue to seek a huge package in return. The Astros, who previously inquired about Miller, remain in the mix. [Joel Sherman]
  • 11:30am: At least one team has inquired about Nathan Eovaldi. Talks did not progress much, but Eovaldi isn’t off the table. Ivan Nova remains in play as well. [Sherman]
  • 11:30am: The Yankees are monitoring the market for Jose Fernandez, though the Marlins are seeking a massive haul for their ace. “The cost is so overwhelming that I don’t think he is really available,” said one executive. [Sherman]
  • 11:39am: The Yankees are interested in Asdrubal Cabrera to play second base. Cabrera is cool with that, according to his agent. The team insists they don’t have much money to spend. Asdrubal would give the Yankees a backup shortstop, allowing them to jettison Brendan Ryan and keep both Rob Refsnyder and Dustin Ackley on the roster. [Jon Morosi, Brendan Kuty]
  • 12:22pm: Teams are expecting the Yankees to lose outfielder Jake Cave in the Rule 5 Draft later this week. The Mets could be a possible fit. As a left-handed hitter capable of playing center field, Cave is prime Rule 5 Draft fodder. [Adam Rubin]
  • 2:31pm: For what it’s worth, two team executives and one agent insist the Yankees’ unwillingness to spend on free agents is legitimate and not a smokescreen. [Mark Feinsand]

(Reminder: Your trade proposal sucks.)

Kansas City Royals win 2015 World Series

(Elsa/Getty)
(Elsa/Getty)

For the first time 30 years, the Kansas City Royals are World Series champions. They beat the Mets 7-2 in 12 innings in Game Five Sunday night. Matt Harvey was brilliant, but the Royals scored two in the ninth to tie and then five in the top of the 12th to win. Here’s the box score and here’s the wild WPA graph.

I’m going to remember Eric Hosmer’s mad dash for home plate to score the tying run in the ninth more than anything. I was at the game for CBS and I literally stood up out of my chair and put my hands on my head when he broke for home. It was that kind of moment. What an insanely fun and memorable play:

The 2015 Royals have very few ties to the Yankees. In fact, no player on their World Series roster ever suited up for the Yankees. Joba Chamberlain did appear in six regular season games with Kansas City, however. Joba has two World Series rings now. How about that?

Pitching coach Dave Eiland played two stints with the Yankees (1988-91, 1995) and was the team’s pitching coach from 2008-10. He coached in New York’s farm system from 2003-07 as well. Bench coach Don Wakamatsu spent the 2013 season as a special assignment scout with the Yankees and hitting coach Dale Sveum played 30 games with the 1998 Yankees. No, really.

Congrats to the Royals for winning the World Series and to the Mets as well for their tremendous season. That is some rotation they have over there in Flushing.

Yankeemetrics: Kings of New York (Sept. 18-20)

(AP Photo)
(AP Photo)

Queens Bombers
On Friday night the Yankees decided to go with a lineup that was missing their top-3 power bats and run producers (combined 86 homers and 249 RBI entering Friday) — Alex Rodriguez, Brian McCann and Mark Teixeira — to try and beat a Mets team that leads the NL in homers and runs scored in the second half of the season. The result was a three-homer barrage by the Mets and a 5-1 loss for the Yankees in the Subway Series opener at Citi Field. Sigh.

They wasted another solid outing by Masahiro Tanaka, who was pitching on regular rest for the second start in a row. After allowing two runs in six innings, he now has a 2.56 ERA in five starts on four days rest this season (and a 3.61 ERA in 18 starts on five-plus days rest).

Round number alert! This was Greg Bird’s 30th major-league game, and with seven homers and 21 RBI, he’s just the second player in franchise history to reach each of those totals within his first 30 career games. The other? Mr. Shane Spencer, who had 10 home runs and 29 RBI through 30 MLB games.

How do ya like them apples?
The Bronx Bombers reclaimed their nickname in Saturday’s 5-0 win, with all five runs scored on homers by Carlos Beltran and Brian McCann. Not only did those home runs help the Yankees win the game, but they also linked Beltran and McCann together with pretty good Hall of Fame backstops.

Beltran’s three-run shot in the first inning was his 389th career home run, tying Johnny Bench for 61st on all-time list. McCann extended the lead five frames later with a two-run blast, his 17th career home run against the Mets. The only catchers with more homers against the Mets are Gary Carter (24), Bench (23) and Javy Lopez (19).

Michael Pineda was pitching on extended (six days) rest, a situation that has caused a ton of problems for him in the past. He had no trouble in this game, though, throwing 5 1/3 scoreless innings. Before getting this win, Pineda was 0-6 with a 5.16 ERA in nine starts on six-plus days rest in a Yankee uniform.

There were a couple notable oddities in this game that probably would only happen in a September matchup. One was that the Yankees somehow used four second baseman: starter Dustin Ackley, Stephen Drew, Brendan Ryan and Rob Refsnyder. The only other time in the last 100 seasons that the Yankees used that many second baseman in a nine-inning game was June 22, 1978 in a 4-2 win over the Tigers.

Despite holding a 5-0 lead, Joe Girardi decided to use six relievers to get the final 11 outs because, in the words of the wise manager, “this is a game you can’t afford to give away.” Anyways, it made for a record-breaking afternoon. This is the first time in franchise history the Yankees used seven pitchers in a shutout win. And the 5-0 score is the largest shutout win by any major-league team in the last 100 years that used seven pitchers in the game. September baseball, gotta love it.

New York’s Ace
The Yankees made a statement on Sunday night with their 11-2 blowout victory over the Mets, clinching a series win in what probably was the most meaningful regular-season matchup between the two New York clubs. The nine-run win matches the Yankees’ biggest ever on the road against the Mets and the 11 runs are the most they’ve ever scored in the Queens.

If not for a thing called “innings limits,” the Yankees might never have won this game. Matt Harvey dominated the Yankees, striking out seven and allowing just one hit in five scoreless innings. He is the only Mets pitcher to pitch at least five innings and give up no more than one hit in a game against the Yankees.

With that near-perfect performance, he now has a 1.25 ERA with 24 strikeouts in three Subway Series starts. The only other active pitchers with an ERA that low and that many strikeouts against the Yankees are Chris Sale and Dallas Keuchel.

CC Sabathia was masterful in limiting the Mets to just one run on five hits in six innings pitched. He’s allowed no more than one earned run in each of his last three starts since coming off the DL, the first time he’s had a streak like that since a five-start run from June 25-July 16, 2011.

Dustin Ackley and Greg Bird had two of the biggest swings of the night, each hitting three-run homers once Harvey had departed. Those were the Yankees’ major-league-best 44th and 45th home runs with at least two men on base this season; next on the list is the Blue Jays … with 27.

9/18 to 9/20 Subway Series Preview: New York Mets

Don Draper

Time for another round of the Subway Series. This weekend is way more important to the Yankees than it is the Mets, who have a comfortable lead in the NL East. Of course, their fans seem to be worried about a potential collapse given what happened in 2007, but I’d say their lead is safe. The Yankees won two of three when these two clubs met in Yankee Stadium in late-April.

What Have The Mets Done Lately?

Lose, believe it or not. They just dropped two straight to the Marlins at home, though before that they won eight straight. The Mets are 83-63 with a +68 run differential right now. They have a comfortable eight-game lead over the Nationals. FanGraphs puts their odds to win the NL East at damn near 100%.

Offense & Defense

The Mets are averaging a 4.25 runs per game with a team 99 wRC+ this season, though that doesn’t really tell the story. They were dreadful in the first half (3.48 R/G and 85 wRC+) but have been much, much better since the All-Star break (5.46 R/G and 118 wRC+). Manager Terry Collins has a completely healthy team on the position player side right now. Two September call-ups are on the 60-day DL (Darrell Ceciliani and Wilfredo Tovar) and that’s all.

(Mitchell Layton/Getty)
(Mitchell Layton/Getty)

Much has been made of the impact of trade deadline pickup OF Yoenis Cespedes (139 wRC+), who has indeed been fantastic for the Mets (173 wRC+), but he’s not the only reason they’ve started scoring runs. C Travis d’Arnaud (152 wRC+) returned from the DL and is quietly one of the best hitting catchers in the game. 3B David Wright (130 wRC+) came off the DL as well. SS Wilmer Flores (98 wRC+) has been hitting since he was nearly traded for Carlos Gomez, and OF Michael Conforto (156 wRC+) has been mashing since he was called up as well.

Of course, ex-Yankee OF Curtis Granderson (131 wRC+) has been their best player since Opening Day, and 1B Lucas Duda (122 wRC+) has been good, but not what he was a year ago. 1B/OF Michael Cuddyer (101 wRC+) has been reduced to a platoon player and 2B Daniel Murphy (99 wRC+) has gotten things straightened out after a slow start. IF Ruben Tejada (98 wRC+), OF Juan Lagares (82 wRC+), 3B Juan Uribe (102 wRC+), and UTIL Kelly Johnson (112 wRC+) are the supporting cast. Among the September call-ups on the roster are C Kevin Plawecki, C Johnny Monell, C Anthony Recker, UTIL Eric Campbell, IF Dilson Herrera, and pinch-runner OF Eric Young Jr.

The Mets are a pretty strong defensive club, though Cuddyer, Flores, and Murphy are definitely below-average. Cespedes is a good defender with a strong arm — he’s been playing center field — and both Granderson and Conforto are solid in the corners. You can run on Grandy’s arm though. Wright, Tejada, and Uribe are above-average defenders as well. d’Arnaud is about average at controlling the running game and currently rates as one of the top pitch-framers in baseball.

Pitching Matchups

Friday (7pm ET): RHP Masahiro Tanaka (vs. NYM) vs. LHP Steven Matz (No vs. NYY)
Matz, a local kid from Stony Brook, has a 1.88 ERA (4.73 FIP) in four starts and 24 big league innings around a lat injury this season. His strikeout (22.9%) and grounder (48.4%) rates are a tick above-average, though walks (9.4%) have been a bit of an issue, as have home runs (1.50 HR/9). Lefties (.299 wOBA) have had more success against him than righties (.273 wOBA) so far, but that’s sample size noise. He’s faced 25 left-handed batters since being brought up. Matz, 24, pitches off a mid-90s sinker with a hammer upper-70s curveball and a quality low-80s changeup. He is very good. The only issue here is health. Matz has had all sorts of injury problems in his career. He had not yet been called up when the Yankees and Mets played earlier this season.

Saturday (1pm ET): RHP Michael Pineda (vs. NYM) vs. RHP Noah Syndergaard (No vs. NYY)
The Mets acquired Syndergaard in the R.A. Dickey trade a few years ago and the 23-year-old has a 3.20 ERA (3.28 FIP) in 21 starts and 129.1 innings this season, his MLB debut. His strikeout (26.2%) and walk (5.7%) numbers are excellent while his grounder (45.8%) and homer (1.04 HR/9) numbers are about league average. Left-handed hitters (.286 wOBA) have hit Syndergaard a bit harder than righties (.277 wOBA), and it’s worth noting he’s been way better at home (2.15 ERA and 2.98 FIP) than on the road (4.47 ERA and 3.64 FIP) as a big leaguer. Syndergaard has a huge fastball — only Nathan Eovaldi (96.6 mph) has a higher average fastball velocity than Syndergaard (96.4) among the 130 pitchers who have thrown at least 100 innings this season — and he uses it to set up his power low-80s curveball and upper-80s changeup. Everything this guy throws is hard. Like Matz, Syndergaard was still in the minors when the Yankees and Mets played in Yankee Stadium.

(Todd Kirkland/Getty)
Syndergaard. (Todd Kirkland/Getty)

Sunday (8pm ET): LHP CC Sabathia (vs. NYM) vs. RHP Matt Harvey (vs. NYY)
The Mets have the 26-year-old Harvey on a very strict schedule right now, and rumor has it he will be limited to five innings Sunday night. We’ll see. He’s thrown 171.2 innings across 26 starts in his first season back from Tommy John surgery, pitching to a 2.88 ERA (3.30 FIP) with dynamite peripherals: 23.9 K%, 5.3 BB%, 46.1 GB%, and 0.94 HR/9. Harvey has been hit much harder by lefties (.303 wOBA) than righties (.241 wOBA) this year. He works with a mid-to-upper-90s 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 for the ESPN Sunday Night game. He held the Yankees to two runs in 8.2 innings back in late-April.

Bullpen Status
Like the Yankees, the Mets had an off-day yesterday, so their bullpen is as fresh as it’s going to get in mid-September. Closer RHP Jeurys Familia (1.63 ERA/2.70 FIP) has been brilliant this season, and these days he’s being set up by ex-Yankee RHP Tyler Clippard (2.77/4.41) and RHP Addison Reed (3.44/2.82). RHP Hansel Robles (3.33/3.41) and RHP Erik Goeddel (2.70/2.71) have also had nice years. Goeddel missed a bunch of time with an elbow issue, however.

The one thing the Mets lack is a reliable left-on-left matchup reliever. Rule 5 Draft pick LHP Sean Gilmartin (2.87/2.55) has had a nice year, but he has a big reverse split (.301 vs. .244 wOBA in favor of lefties) and is more of a long man than a matchup guy. LHP Eric O’Flaherty (7.67/4.44) hasn’t been good at all. RHP Bobby Parnell (5.82/4.21) is having a rough go of it following Tommy John surgery and RHP Carlos Torres (4.45/3.60) is the do-everything rubber arm guy. RHP Tim Stauffer, LHP Dario Alvarez, and RHP Logan Verrett are the September call-ups. Verrett’s the sixth starter more than anything. They’ve been using him to give the other starters extra rest, not out of the bullpen.

Our Bullpen Workload page can keep you updated on Joe Girardi‘s bullpen, which has been rather shaky of late. Hopefully the off-day did those guys some good. Head over to Amazin’ Avenue and Metsblog for everything you need to know about the Mets.

(GIF via Mets Police)

Yankeemetrics: April 24-26 (Mets)

We love to hit homers! (Photo: NJ.com)
We love to hit homers! (Photo: NJ.com)

Streak-busters
The two hottest teams in baseball met in the Bronx on Friday night but only one left the stadium with their win streak intact. The Yankees handed the Mets their first loss in 12 games and won their fourth game in a row, taking the opener of the first-ever edition of the Subway Series between two first-place teams.

Mark Teixeira provided nearly all of the offense, hitting two homers and driving in four of the Yankees six runs. He joined Tony Clark (2004) as the only Yankee first baseman with a multi-homer game against the Mets.

Following Friday’s game, Tex had 12 hits and 11 of those were for extra bases (seven homers, four doubles). According to the Elias Sports Bureau, he is just the second player since 1900 that had at least 11 extra base hits among his first 12 hits of the season. Adam Dunn did it for the Reds in 2005.

Michael Pineda delivered an ace-like performance, allowing one run on five hits while pitching into the eighth inning. He pounded the strike zone all night, throwing 78 of his 100 pitches for strikes. That is a career-high number of strikes for Pineda, and also the highest strike percentage (min. 100 pitches) by any Yankee pitcher since Randy Johnson threw 86 strikes among his 110 pitches (78.2 percent) on June 16, 2005 against the Pirates.

Large Lefty comes up small
Coming off a vintage performance against the Tigers (8 IP, 2 R) and facing a team he has dominated in his career (2.14 ERA in five starts), CC Sabathia entered Saturday’s matchup vs. the Mets looking to clinch the series for the Yankees. Instead, he had his worst outing of the season and fell to 0-4 in four starts this year.

Sabathia is the second Yankee in the last 30 years to lose his first four starts of the season. Kevin Brown also went 0-4 in his first four outings of the 2005 season. The last Yankee southpaw to do it was Fritz Peterson in 1972. Sabathia also extended his winless streak to seven starts dating back to last year, the longest such drought of his career.

The lone highlight for the Yankees was once again Teixeira, who went 3-for-4 and clubbed another homer. That gave him eight home runs in the team’s first 18 games, a feat achieved by only five other Yankees: Alex Rodriguez (2007), Graig Nettles (1974), Mickey Mantle (1956, 1961), Yogi Berra (1956), Babe Ruth (1921).

Matt Harvey dominated the Yankees lineup for the second time in two career starts against the team he rooted for as a kid growing up in Connecticut. He is one of two pitchers in the last 100 years with at least eight innings pitched, seven strikeouts and no more than two runs allowed in each of his first two career games against the Yankees. The other is Ray Culp, who did it for the Red Sox in 1968.

What a relief
The Yankees earned bragging rights in New York City with a 6-4 victory on Sunday night, giving them the Subway Series win. The hero of the game was the bullpen, which threw 4 2/3 scoreless, hitless innings after starter Nathan Eovaldi got rocked by the Mets.

Andrew Miller, the team’s fifth reliever of the game, closed out the win with a scoreless ninth inning for his seventh save of the season in seven tries. Since saves became an official statistic in 1969, he is now the first pitcher to convert his first seven save chances in a Yankee uniform, without allowing more than one hit in each of those games.

This was not a pretty game from a defensive standpoint. The Mets committed four errors in the game, the most they’ve ever had in a game against the Yankees, and the home team also committed two errors. The six combined errors is one shy of the record for a Subway Series game, set on May 20, 2006 when the Yankees had four and the Mets had three.

Alex Rodriguez drove in the Yankees first run with his 659th career homer. So when’s he gonna hit the next one to tie Willie Mays for fourth on the all-time list? Facing the pressure of reaching a couple other milestones, he went 51 plate appearances between No. 599 and 600, and 37 plate appearances between No. 499 and 500.