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Mets vs. Yankees Recap: A good bullpen is hard to find

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Rafael Montero was good, but the Yankees powered up against the Met bullpen.

MLB: New York Mets at New York Yankees Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

After a strong start to the game, the Mets blew a late lead against the Yankees to fall 4-2. A pair of solo home runs from Curtis Granderson and Yoenis Cespedes gave Rafael Montero an early lead, but Aaron Judge tied the game in the sixth with a solo shot of his own. Two more Yankee home runs in the ninth gave Dellin Betances all he needed to close out the loss.

The Mets managed a single in both the first and second innings, but couldn’t push any runners across the plate in either frame. That changed in the third, when Curtis Granderson yanked a ball that snuck just inside the right field foul pole for a home run. Two batters later, Yoenis Cespedes pushed a fastball up in the zone just over the glove of Aaron Judge in right-center field for his third homer in as many games. The two solo shots gave the Mets a 2-0 lead.

Rafael Montero, meanwhile, got off to a fantastic start. Through the first three innings, the enigmatic right hander allowed only an infield single, which was promptly erased on a double play. Working aggressively, particularly on the inside part of the plate, Montero kept the Yankee hitters off balance and struck out four of the first nine batters he faced.

Things didn’t go as smoothly in the fourth. Aaron Hicks hit a broken-bat looper that dropped in front of Juan Lagares with one out, and Montero followed that with a four pitch walk of Aaron Judge. For a moment, it seemed like Montero was about to slip into his bad habit of nibbling excessively, especially with runners on base. He wasn’t egregiously nit-picky against Didi Gregorious (who put together a fantastic at bat), but he did walk the Yankee shorstop to load the bases with one out.

At that point, Montero got the memo. He went after Gary Sanchez aggressively, retiring him on a fly ball to left after a nine pitch at bat. The ball wasn’t hit very deep, but the throw from Yoenis Cespedes was off line, and Aaron Hicks tagged up and scored. Montero kept the Met lead intact, however, retiring Chase Headley on one pitch to escape the inning with a 2-1 lead.

In the top of the fifth, Yankee starter Luis Cessa (originally part of the 2015 trade for Yoenis Cespedes, along with Michael Fulmer) departed with an injury after allowing a one out single to Juan Lagares. Superb fire man Chad Green entered, ending the inning with a strikeout of Curtis Granderson after Lagares was caught stealing second. In the bottom half, Montero bounced back, working around a soft ground ball single to center and an infield single while striking out another Yankee. Through five innings, Montero was in line for what would be only his third major league win.

Unfortunately, Aaron Judge is a big, strong man. Judge took a fastball that was a borderline ball on the outside of the plate and deposited it in the right field bleachers to tie the game at 2-2. Yankee Stadium is certainly small in right field, but Judge’s homer landed ten or so rows back, so it certainly wasn’t cheap. Montero retired the next three batters and recorded another strike out, but his night ended with the game tied at 2-2.

The Mets couldn’t take the lead in the top of the seventh, which closed the book on Montero. He finished with 6.0 innings of two-run ball, striking out six, walking two, and allowing one home run. It’s one of the best outings we’ve ever seen from Montero, as he stayed aggressive, worked inside, and had good command of his breaking ball. Hopefully he can build on this bounce-back performance and finish out the season strong.

Hansel Robles entered for the bottom of the seventh and tossed a scoreless inning, striking out two after allowing a leadoff single to Todd Frazier. Robles was run out there for a second inning though, and that proved to be a costly mistake. Aaron Hicks slugged a solo home run to right-center field to give the Yankees their first lead of the night.

Jerry Blevins entered for one batter, retiring Didi Gregorious, and Erik Goeddel was brought in with two outs to face Gary Sanchez. The catcher who bested Giancarlo Stanton in the first round of the home run derby launched the Yankees’ second home run of the inning, stretching their lead to 4-2.

Two runs is a mighty big mountain to climb against the Yankee bullpen, even with Aroldis Chapman getting the night off. Dellin Betances made short work of the Mets, working around an infield single from Dom Smith (should have been an error, Tyler Wade had no reason to rush his throw with Smith running) to close out the game.

The loss drops the Mets to 53-63, which should hold their position in the back-end of the top ten in the reverse standings. Jacob deGrom takes the mound opposite Sonny Gray tomorrow in the Bronx before the series moves to Queens on Wednesday.

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What’s WPA?

Big winners: None
Big losers: Hansel robles, -15.7% WPA; Dom Smith, -10.6% WPA; Michael Conforto, -10.1% WPA
Teh aw3s0mest play: Curtis Granderson homers in the third off of Luis Cessa, +11.6% WPA
Teh sux0rest play: Aaron Hicks homers in the eighth off Hansel Robles, -26.0% WPA
Total pitcher WPA: -15.4% WPA
Total batter WPA: -34.6% WPA
GWRBI!: Aaron Hicks