MLB: New York Yankees at New York Mets

Game recap August 17: So close, yet never close enough

Yankees 7, Mets 5, Final

The Mets went into last night’s Subway Series finale hoping to avoid only the second series sweep on the losing side in more than twenty years of the midsummer meet-ups. Better late than never: while it was still not to be, for eight innings the Mets seemed less in a rebuilding phase than in a contractually-obligated-to-appear phase, some late inning heroics — specifically, a ninth inning grand slam by Curtis Granderson — made the final score closer than the game ever really was.

Things got off to a bad start when Mets starter Steven Matz took 40 pitches to get through the first inning. The first batter of the game, Yankees outfielder Brett Gardner, tapped a comebacker to Matz, who promptly threw the ball over Dominic Smith’s head into right field.

Matz, who had fallen behind Gardner 3-0, then fell behind the next batter, Aaron Hicks, 3-0, before eventually walking him, bringing Aaron Judge to the plate with two men on and no one out, just like they must have drawn things up in the pregame meeting. Matz got an overeager Judge to strike out on a check swing, but Gary Sanchez picked up his teammate with a three-run home run to left field, putting the Mets behind three or more runs in the first inning for the 16th time this year. Matz then walked Yankees shortstop Didi Gregorius. Todd Frazier popped out to Dom Smith, and Tyler Austin singled, prolonging the agony. Ronald Torreyes then struck out.

Yankees ace Luis Severino coughed up a one-out double to Astrubal Cabrera in the bottom of the first, but Severino recovered to strike out Michael Conforto and Yoenis Cespedes to end the threat.

Matz straightened things out for a spell from the second, getting three quick outs in the second and stranding a runner in the third while striking Frazier out looking.

Severino, for his part, cruised through the first two-thirds of the second before Travis d’Arnaud deposited a two-out single to center. Matt Reynolds, recalled from Triple-A Las Vegas, then worked to a 3-2 count before striking out.

The teams traded zeros through to the fourth, when Austin and Torreyes singled back to back to lead off the top of the frame. Severino popped a sacrifice in the air towards  Smith, who lunged and could not reach it, awarding Severino with an ugly first major league hit. That brought Gardner to the plate with no one out. Gardner promptly laced a two-run double to the left field corner. After an Aaron Hicks groundout, Matz faced Judge, who he had struck out twice. After getting two strikes on the gargantuan outfielder, Matz glanced a fastball off Judge’s elbow protector, re-loading the bases.

After 76 mostly ineffectual pitches and with Gary Sanchez returning to the plate, Terry Collins had seen enough, yanking Matz in favor of Chasen Bradford. Sanchez turned Bradford’s first pitch with a two-run single. Bradford then coaxed a double play out of Didi Gregorius.

Bradford continued his admirable mop up duty through the sixth inning, his third consecutive day of work. Hansel Robles, a fireman straight out of the pages of a Ray Bradbury novel, took over in the top of the seventh inning and managed to hold the Yankees to seven runs through two innings of work.

Severino was dominant for this 10th win of the season, surrendering no earned runs with nine strikeouts over six and a third innings.

Despite his brilliance, Severino’s young defense started to betray him in his last inning. With one out in the bottom of the seventh, Aaron Judge misplayed a d’Arnaud fly ball into a two-base error. d’Arnaud then moved to third on a passed ball by Sanchez, and scored on an RBI bloop single by Matt Reynolds. Brandon Nimmo, a late defensive replacement then hit a single in his first at bat, and. after 106 pitches Severino’s night was over. He was replaced by left-handed reliever Chasen Shreve, who promptly struck out Curtis Granderson, but walked Cabrera, loading the bases for Conforto. Conforto would strike out.

Recent acquisition AJ Ramos pitched the top of the ninth, retiring the Yankees in order.

In the bottom of the frame, Bryan Mitchell came out of the pen for the Yankees, and d’Arnaud greeted him with a leadoff double. Reynolds then knocked a single the other way, putting runners on the corners with no one out. Mitchell struggled to throw strikes to Nimmo, who drew a walk to load the bases for Granderson. Granderson took the first pitch out for a grand slam, closing the score to 7-5, and prompting Yankees manager Joe Girardi to summon Dellin Betances from the bullpen. Betances retired Cabrera, Conforto, and pinch hitter Juan Lagares to slam the lid. The four-run rally in the ninth was impressive, but the hole they’d dug earlier in the game was just too deep.

Tonight the Marlins come to town; Nicolino (1-1) faces Flexen (2-1); first pitch will be at 7:10 p.m.

Photo credit: Brad Penner – USA Today Sports

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