Game Recap August 4: Of RISP and Reward

The Subway Series began with the New York Yankees sellers at the trade deadline and the New York Mets buyers, despite their records just two games apart. The Yankees took two of the first three games despite scoring one fewer run over this span thanks to Mets pitching giving out on the team when they needed it most. So, entering Thursday’s game, NY (NL) looked to the oft-reliable, ageless arm of Bartolo Colon to close the series with an even record and move one game back of the second Wild Card spot. Big Sexy delivered.

There were two relevant storylines to the outcome of the game, and both came through the same concept: runners in scoring position. The Mets’ troubles in this regard have become a meme unto themselves, and it’s been understood that just one or two hits with RISP could turn many a loss into a win. All you have to do is go to the BP Mets homepage, scroll down a bit, and see that the pitchers are more than carrying their fair share, at third in all of baseball in runs given up. It’s that they’re third from the bottom in runs scored that has been the problem, and yesterday was a prime example of the fact that they aren’t in need of excess runs to win; just enough will do.

Early on, it appeared that the Yankees would score first. In the bottom of the second inning, after a 1-2-3 first, Brian McCann started things off with a single that was promptly followed by a Starlin Castro single to left. Didi Gregorius then had a productive out that moved the runners to second and third with just one out. Colon was tested for the first time in the game and proved up to the challenge by inducing a groundout and lineout, respectively.

In the third and fourth, the offenses were quiet on both sides. An Alejandro De Aza diving catch to rob Gregorius was the lone noteworthy event, and not the only stellar defensive play he’d make all night. The fifth had barely started, TV feed still working its way back onscreen, when Kelly Johnson launched a practical line drive into the right field stands that would be a home run in scant other stadiums. This would spark the necessary offensive output that would sustain the Mets for the whole game.

Granderson, entering the game reaching base on six of his previous eleven plate appearances, doubled to continue the inning. De Aza then grounded into a fielder’s choice that the Yankees’ defense incorrectly played to allow him to reach first safely. A runner in scoring position, and no out made? This was positive progress. Speaking of, a man in great need of anything positive to ease into his new team was Jay Bruce, entering the at-bat with an 0-19 streak. He responded by crushing a homer to center, plating three runs and giving the Mets a 4-0 lead. The question was, after 90 pitches and 6.2 innings pitched, would the Mets’ bullpen hold up Colon’s lead?

Tonight, they were more than up to the task. Though Jerry Blevins let up an Aaron Hicks single that drove in Gary Sanchez, who had doubled off Colon before he was pulled, the only real threat to the game came during Jeurys Familia’s appearance in the ninth. Gregorius and Sanchez both singled to give Familia a similar threat to the one Colon had in the second: runners on first and second with one out. Anticlimactic for the home crowd (though you wouldn’t know it by the chants of “BRUUUUUUUCE” that rang out after Jay’s home run), Rob Refsnyder ground into a double play to end the game. NY (NL) moved one game back of the second Wild Card spot and begin today a very winnable series against the Detroit Tigers to assist their playoff push.

Photo credit: Brad Penner – USA Today Sports

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