Good baseball teams struggle sometimes. It will happen in a season that is long as a normal baseball season is, and good teams break out of it. The Mets, who are good, just needed a .500 ballclub to set themselves right after a tough stretch.
The close-to-.500 New York Yankees proved to be the perfect get right team for the Mets,
Let us rewind to the beginning of the game, because this was way more interesting and close than the 10-5 final score dictates.
The Mets offense started with a bang...kind of. After a Brandon Nimmo strikeout and a hard hit Francisco Lindor line out, Dominic Smith hit what will probably the funniest home run of his career, as it had a whopping xBA of .180 off the bat. Because Yankee Stadium has roughly the same dimensions as the ballpark for the Little League World Series, it was tucked onto the seats for a 1-0 Mets lead. The bottom of the first and the top of the second went by without much fanfare, but the bottom of the second started the heavyweight fight.
A leadoff single by Giancarlo Stanton started the frame, but a bad Francisco Lindor error on a would be double play ball off the bat of Gio Urshela put the Yankees in business. Stroman was poor from then on, and got hit pretty hardly throughout the inning. He got an out on a fielder’s choice, but hit Brett Gardner to load the bases. Gerrit Cole’s personal catcher Kyle Higashioka stroked a double into the left field corner to make it 2-1 Yankees. Recently acquired Tim Locastro smoked a sacrifice fly to left to make it 3-1.
The Mets threatened in the top of the third, putting two on with two outs, but a Pete Alonso strikeout nipped that rally in the bud. The bottom of that frame was a tough luck one for the Mets, as Stroman got horribly squeezed by the umpire and gave up the cheapest against-the-shift single to Aaron Judge. Luke Voit smoked a single to make it first and third, and a bittersweet Giancarlo Stanton double play made it 4-1. It chased home a big run, but also put an early nail in the coffin on any type of big inning for the Bronx Bombers.
The Mets staged their first of two comebacks in the fourth, which was started by a Michael Conforto walk. A McNeil single and a walk by former Yankees Legend Billy McKinney loaded the bases against the Spider Tack-less Gerrit Cole. It was a sticky situation for the big righty, so Aaron Boone decided to lift him for a reliever, Jonathan Loaisiga. Loaisiga was not sharp in an admittedly very bad situation for a reliever, and he surrendered singles to Tomas Nido, Brandon Nimmo, and Lindor, tying the game up at four apiece. A Smith walk put Alonso up in a big spot again, but he grounded out on a beautiful play by Loaisiga to end the rally.
The bottom of the fourth and top of the fifth went by with nary a run, but the Yankees got back into the lead in the bottom of the fifth, officially making it scary hours for our Mets.
Stroman, still out there likely because of the lack of quality depth behind him in the rotation, and the need for multiple relievers in said games, was still not sharp in the frame. Singles by DJ LeMahieu and Aaron Judge put the Yankees in business again, making it first and third with one away. A wild pitch that nearly took Voit’s head off went to the backstop, and the Yankees took the lead again.
The Mets got two on (again) in the sixth, an did not do anything with it (again), and a scoreless inning by Jeurys Familia put us into the seventh inning, and the ice cold Aroldis Chapman came in for the save. And this is where the game gets interesting.
Pete Alonso strode up to the plate, and like he had all day, looked lost against any type of velocity. So, naturally, Chapman decided to throw a slider, and Alonso smoked it over the left center field wall, continuing the struggles of another pitcher who has seemingly lost something after the substance ban. Chapman did not get much better after the homer, beaning Conforto and walking McNeil, and subsequently got pulled for Lucas Luetge. Kevin Pillar, coming in for McKinney, took a ball off his fist and neatly deposited it into center field, loading the bases with zero outs. James McCann, pinch hitting for Nido, had a just woeful at bat, striking out on nothing close to the zone. Jose Peraza, who came into the game with a laughable .417 batting average in high leverage situations (shoutout Fangraphs) hit a ball to the wall in left, when LITERALLY A FAN reached over and caught the ball in play. It was eventually ruled a double, making it 7-5 Mets.
Reader, it did not stop there.
Brandon Nimmo, recognizing that more runs would have scored if the fan did not throw their arm into play to catch a ball, smoked a single to right to make it 9-5, and advanced to second on a bad throw by Judge. Lindor wanted in on the fun, and stroked a single to score Nimmo, making it 10-5 and adding to his career .313/.372/.520 line against the Yankees (Personal note: this inning ROCKED).
Seth Lugo, who is a good reliever, had about the cleanest bottom of the seventh anyone could ask for, getting three outs on eight pitches, throwing just one ball, as the Mets took the game, secured the series victory, and proved as a get right game against a middling team.
Win Probability Added
Big Mets winner: Jose Peraza, +23.9% WPA
Big Mets loser: Marcus Stroman, -34.2% WPA
Mets pitchers: -34.2% WPA
Mets hitters: +84.2% WPA
Teh aw3s0mest play: Pete Alonso’s seventh inning solo home run, +33.2% WPA
Teh sux0rest play: Kyle Higashioka’s second inning two RBI double, -20.6% WPA
The short Yankee Stadium right field porch that gaveth in game one of the doubleheader on Dominic Smith’s first inning home run tooketh away on the crucial at bat of game two, as Gio Urshela poked a Corey Oswalt fastball the other way into the first row of the stadium’s absurd right field porch.
The home run was preceded by a Luke Voit double and a nicely executed Rougned Odor bunt single, staking the Yankees to an early 3-0 lead in the bottom of the second inning in the short seven inning sprint of a game. Oswalt allowed only one other hit over four otherwise solid innings in his first start of the season, but the Mets offense—which seemed to snap out of its doldrums over the first two games of the series—could muster little early off of Yankees’ spot starter Nestor Cortes, who struck out four and surrendered only a James McCann single over the first three innings.
With one out in the fourth, Smith doubled to right to chase Cortes from the game, as a possibly desperate Aaron Boone went to Darren O’Day to face Pete Alonso. The move backfired, with Alonso going the other way for his second home run of the day, cutting the Yankees’ lead to 3-2.
O’Day proceeded to walk McCann and Conforto, and it looked as if another Mets’ comeback might be on tap. But the submariner recovered to induce a force out from Kevin Pillar and strike out Jonathan Villar to preserve the slim Yankee lead.
Game two of the doubleheader would lack the dramatic twists and turns of the opener. Aaron Loup would enter the game for the Mets in the bottom of the fifth and walk two of this first three batters. Miguel Castro would relieve him and get a ground out from Aaron Judge, moving the runners to second and third. With two out, Castro would uncork a costly wild pitch, bringing Brett Gardner home with a crucial insurance run.
Meanwhile, Boone had turned to one of his few currently reliable relievers in Chad Green to start the top of the fifth, and chose to ride him the rest of the way. Green mowed down all nine Mets batters he faced, six by strikeout—including the final three on nine pitches in an immaculate seventh inning—to preserve a much-needed win for the Yankees as they avoided a Subway Series sweep.
Win Probability Added
Big Mets winner: Pete Alonso, +9.8% WPA
Big Mets loser: Corey Oswalt, -14.5% WPA
Mets pitchers: -20.3% WPA
Mets hitters: -29.7% WPA
Teh aw3s0mest play: Pete Alonso’s fourth inning two-run home run, +15.1% WPA
Teh sux0rest play: Gio Urshela’s second inning three-run home run, -15.2% WPA