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Game recap July 20: A second half team

Noah Syndergaard held the potent Yankees offense to only one run, Yoenis Cespedes had two hits including a home run and Michael Conforto drove in three runs during Friday night’s series opener with the Yankees.

In a lot of ways, this game was everything the Mets envisioned could be routine when they broke camp in March. Instead, given the way the Amazins played in the first half, last night was more of a mirage of what could have been.

The Mets certainly came out of the All-Star break on the attack against Yankees starter Domingo German. Brandon Nimmo led the game off with a walk and quickly scored two batters later when Asdrubal Cabrera lined a double into the right field corner. After German got Wilmer Flores to pop up, Conforto and Jose Bautista continued the damage, stringing together back-to-back run-scoring doubles to put the road team up 3-0 before Syndergaard even took the mound.

The big righty looked sharp early, and although he surrendered a pair of two-out singles in the first, the frame should almost certainly have been a clean one, as Amed Rosario simply whiffed on a very playable ground ball up the middle from Didi Gregorius. After an uneventful 2nd inning, the Mets extended their lead in the third, thanks to a towering lead-off homer from Cespedes in his first game back from the DL. The Bombers plated a run in the bottom of that inning on a sac fly from Giancarlo Stanton, but Syndergaard stranded two to prevent the Yankees from getting any closer.

The 4-1 New York (NL) advantage held until the fifth, when the Amazins mounted another rally, this time against righty reliever Adam Warren. Walks by Cespedes and Flores put two on with one out, and a Conforto single to left restored the Mets’ four-run lead. Two batters later, Flores would come around to score on a hit from Devin Mesoraco, giving the Mets a 6-1 lead. After Syndergaard stranded another runner in the fifth, a frame in which he scarily required a visit from the trainer, manager Mickey Callaway decided to err on the side of caution and remove his co-ace after five with his team up five.

Relief ace Seth Lugo entered in the sixth, and unfortunately he didn’t have his best stuff. Gary Sanchez and Greg Bird started the frame with back to back singles to put Lugo in immediate trouble. He did strike out Miguel Andujar to get his first out, but former Met Neil Walker then doubled in both runners to get the Yankees within striking distance at 6-3. Lugo returned to the mound in the seventh and continued to bend but not break, walking two and allowing a single, but stranding the bases loaded.

The Mets offense stalled a little in the later innings against Yankees relievers Chasen Shreve, Chad Green and Jonathan Holder, which allowed the Bombers to stay in this game, and they really started to make the road dugout uncomfortable in the eighth. With Robert Gsellman now on the hill, Brett Gardner hit a one-out grounder to Rosario who bobbled the play, giving the Bombers a free runner on the error. An Aaron Judge single, followed by a run-scoring double from Gregorius made that error loom extremely large as the inning progressed. Stanton drove in his second run of the contest on a ground ball to shortstop to get the Yankees within one run, but a big strikeout of Sanchez stranded the tying run 90 feet away.

In the road ninth, the Mets actually played strong situational baseball to generate a key insurance run. Cabrera led off with a single against A.J. Cole and advanced to second base on a wild pitch. Flores then pushed him to third with a ground ball to second, and Cabrera could later walk home on a long sac fly from Conforto.

As the Yankees prepared to hit in the bottom of the ninth, a new drama began to unfold. In a clear save situation, Jeurys Familia remained seated in the road bullpen wearing a jacket, a telling sign that he’s imminently being traded. Gsellman was the one who trotted out to the mound to attempt a to secure the save in his second inning of work, and while he did allow the Bombers to bring the tying run to the plate, the Mets perhaps new closer of the present was able to get the job done.

It has been about two months since the Mets have won a series but they’ll attempt to do it tomorrow with Steven Matz on the hill.

Photo credit: Brad Penner – USA Today Sports

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