The kickoff to the 2018 Subway Series evoked the spirit of Dennis Green, the late football coach who blessed us with an all-time press-conference proclamation/exclamation:
The Yankees are what we thought they were. The Mets, too.
On Friday night at Citi Field, New York’s two teams followed the paths that got them here. And if they continue on their respective paths, this interleague, intracity rivalry is going to be more one-sided by the end of this season than Ivan Drago versus Apollo Creed.
Yet another Jacob deGrom masterpiece went to waste as Brett Gardner’s eighth-inning homer broke a tie and catapulted the Yankees to an eventual 4-1 victory over the Mets, earning the visitors their third straight win and handing the home team its seventh straight defeat.
“What I like is, our guys had game plans, had their individual game plans … and eventually it paid off for us,” Aaron Boone said.
“Obviously, we have to get better,” Brandon Nimmo said.
Nimmo, the brightest non-deGrom spot of this increasingly dreadful Mets season, offered hope when he crushed Masahiro Tanaka’s second pitch of the night into the right-field upper deck, giving the Mets their first lead, albeit a modest 1-0, since June 1, when they were up 2-0 on the Cubs. And even as Tanaka settled down to strike out eight over five innings, it looked for a while that deGrom just might make his modest advantage stand up … without requiring any help from his bullpen teammates. He threw just 57 pitches through five innings.
“DeGrom was great, and he was so pitch-efficient,” Boone said. “He had a lot of easy innings compared to what we’re used to.”
Even when the Yankees tied the score off deGrom in the sixth, they paid a price, as Tanaka (who reached base on Adrian Gonzalez’s fielding error) aggravated both of his hamstrings tagging up on Aaron Judge’s flyball to right field and sprinting home. Mets manager Mickey Callaway admitted afterward to feeling like his club might have caught a break: “OK, you know what? We got him out of there. He had a great split. He was throwing the ball really well. … Get somebody else in there and see if we can do some damage.”
Somebody else came in the form of Jonathan Holder, then Chad Green, then Dellin Betances and finally Aroldis Chapman. The Mets managed to put two runners in scoring position over those final four innings, quite a triumph nowadays, but of course couldn’t get them home. And of course, too, Giancarlo Stanton, making his Citi Field debut in the Yankees’ grays, added an insurance homer in the ninth, his 22nd career homer here marking the most by any opposing player.
Considering the Mets began the day by putting closer Jeurys Familia (right shoulder) on the disabled list and postponing the activation of Noah Syndergaard (right index finger) off the DL, it proved to be your standard Mets day from hell.
And the Yankees? They put up two singles and two walks through seven innings, and might have lost another starting pitcher to injury — as he was running the bases, of all things, pushing Chien-Ming Wang’s 2008 baserunning misfortune to the collective memory’s surface as a historical comparable — and they prevailed nonetheless.
“We’ve got a pretty good lineup, top to bottom,” Gardner said. “There’s really no time off for the opposing pitcher, He’s got to stay locked in top to bottom, one through nine. We can hurt you in a lot of ways.
“If we struggle the first couple times through, down 5-1 or 7-0 or something, we may not have as good a chance to come back. But our pitching staff does a great job of putting up zeroes and allowing our offense to hang around and come through late in the game like that.”
The Yankees win games like that. The Mets lose games like that. They are who they are. Does any reason exist to think that will change any time soon?
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