The Mets held on to win the Subway Series opener in the Bronx 7-5 behind a short, but solid outing from Noah Syndergaard and timely hitting by the Mets offense. The Mets tagged Domingo German for four runs over 3 2⁄3 innings. German was immediately optioned to Triple-A following the game. The Mets built up a more substantial lead against Adam Warren and Seth Lugo and Robert Gsellman each pitched two innings of relief and the Mets’ lead was just wide enough to stave off a Yankees comeback.
The offense got to work right away against German. Brandon Nimmo led off the first inning with a walk. Yoenis Cespedes then flew out in his first at-bat back from the disabled list. Asdrubal Cabrera drove in Nimmo with an RBI double. Wilmer Flores popped out to shallow right field, but Michael Conforto and Jose Bautista followed with back-to-back two-out doubles to put the Mets up 3-0. All three doubles came with two strikes. Bautista’s double one-hopped the wall in left center field and German is frankly lucky that it did not leave the yard.
But what did leave the yard was a high looping drive from Cespedes in the third inning that bounced off the left field foul pole for a solo homer to stretch the Mets’ lead to 4-0.
Meanwhile, Syndergaard worked in and out of trouble all night, as he did not throw a single 1-2-3 inning. To be fair, his outing was littered with soft singles, infield hits, and poor defense behind him. And he was able to limit the damage, giving up just one run in the bottom of the third inning. Brett Gardner led off the frame with yet another infield hit and Aaron Judge singled to move Gardner to third. Syndergaard got Didi Gregorious to pop out to first base, but Giancarlo Stanton hit a sacrifice fly to score Gardner and plate the Yankees’ first run. Aaron Hicks also hit a single, but Gary Sanchez popped up to second to end the inning.
In the bottom of the fourth inning, Syndergaard struck out Neil Walker for his 500th career strikeout. At 436 1⁄3 innings pitched for his career at that point, he is the fastest pitcher in franchise history to reach that milestone.
By his fifth inning of mostly working out of the stretch, Syndergaard was clearly gassed. Judge led off the inning with a single against the shift. After Gregorious flew out to center for the first out, Mickey Callaway brought the trainer with him to the mound, as Syndergaard was sitting at 94-95mph with his fastball. Syndergaard seemed to convince Mickey that he was fine and struck out Stanton and induced a fly out from Hicks to end the inning. Even though he was at just 84 pitches, it was clear that his night was over. After the game, Syndergaard cited dead arm as the reason for the velocity drop and seemed confident he would make his next start.
Meanwhile, the Mets allowed Syndergaard to leave the game with a fairly sizable lead, as they scored two additional runs off Adam Warren in the top of the fifth. Cespedes led off the inning with a walk and Flores followed that with a one-out walk to put two men on for Conforto. Conforto singled to drive in Cespedes, who looked like he was moving quite well scoring from second base. Jose Bautista then walked to load the bases for Devin Mesoraco, who singled to make the score 6-1. The bases were still loaded with one out for Amed Rosario, but he grounded to first and the Yankees got the force out at home. They were unable to double up Rosario, but Matt den Dekker promptly struck out against the new pitcher Chasen Shreve to end the inning. It was a rough night at the office for Rosario, who went hitless and made multiple defensive miscues in the field.
But the Mets were able to hand the bullpen a five run lead to work with, which they almost squandered. Gary Sanchez led off the bottom of the sixth inning with a single off Seth Lugo—the 9th single for the Yankees in the game at that point. Greg Bird then hit a popup into shallow left field which dropped between the colliding Rosario and den Dekker to cost the Mets the out. With two men on, Lugo got Andujar to strike out swinging, but then gave up a bases-clearing double to Neil Walker to cut the Mets’ lead to 6-3. Lugo was able to get the final two outs to avoid further damage.
Lugo worked out of a very large jam in the seventh. Gregorious led off the inning with—you guessed it—an infield single. Stanton then worked out a walk. Lugo was able to induce the ground ball from Hicks, but he was too speedy to be doubled up, making it first and third with one out. Lugo struck out Sanchez swinging, but walked Bird to load the bases. But he was able to escape, getting Miguel Andujar to fly out to end the inning.
The Yankees continued to chip away against Robert Gsellman in the eighth. Gardner reached base with one out on a fielding error by Rosario. Judged singled to send Gardner to to third. Gregorious then doubled to plate another more run and bring the Yankees within two. The Mets conceded a run on a groundout by Stanton to trim lead to one skinny run with the tying run 90 feet away. But Gsellman struck out Sanchez to keep the Mets in front heading into the ninth.
The Mets did not have any success against Shreve or Chad Green, but were able to build an insurance run in the ninth against former NL East rival A.J. Cole. Cabrera led off the inning with a single, A passed ball by Sanchez allowed Cabrera to advance to second. Flores grounded into a productive out, moving Cabrera to third. Conforto then drove him in with a sacrifice fly, his third RBI of the night.
During the top of the ninth, the Mets’ bullpen was surprisingly silent when one would normally expect Jeurys Familia to be warming up to come in for the save. However, trade rumors have been swirling around Familia and it is rumored that a deal may get done soon. So the task of closing the game fell to Gsellman, who stayed in the game for a second inning of relief. His ninth inning was much smoother than his eighth inning. He got two quick outs and then walked Neil Walker on four pitches. But he was able to get Gardner to ground out to short to earn his fifth save of the season and second save in the past week.
In total, Yoenis Cespedes collected two hits—one of them a home run—and a walk in his return from the disabled list.
Steven Matz matches up against Sonny Gray in game two of this Subway Series for a Saturday matinee in the Bronx.
SB Nation GameThreads
Win Probability Added
Big winners: Michael Conforto, +16% WPA, Noah Syndergaard, +15.6% WPA, Asdrubal Cabrera, +12.3% WPA
Big losers: None
Teh aw3s0mest play: Robert Gsellman strikes out Gary Sanchez with two men on to end the bottom of the eighth inning, +14.4% WPA
Teh sux0rest play: Didi Gregorious’ RBI double in the bottom of the eighth inning, -17.9% WPA
Total pitcher WPA: +18.5% WPA
Total batter WPA: +31.5% WPA
GWRBI!: Devin Mesoraco