One down, 10 to go?
To reach that ambitious total of matchups, the Yankees and Mets would play their three remaining regular-season games and follow that with a Subway World Series stretched to the limit. Who says no?
Tuesday night the sellout crowd of 42,364 at Citi Field got its money’s worth in the first inning alone, with a home run derby of sorts between the first-place teams. The Yankees hit two and the Mets matched them, but doubled their runs.
The remainder turned into a pitching battle in which the Mets parlayed their early lead into a 6-3 victory. The win was the Mets’ fifth in seven Subway Series games over the last two seasons.
“I never played in a major league playoff game before, but if I had to guess this is what it would be like,” said Pete Alonso, who finished 3-for-3 and reached base four times.
Starling Marte and Eduardo Escobar — two key offseason additions — provided the thunder for the Mets with first-inning homers against Jordan Montgomery. Taijuan Walker had an acceptable start for the Mets, but the bullpen was better, with Adam Ottavino and Edwin Diaz combining for three scoreless innings. Diaz recorded the final four outs for the save, entering in the eighth to strike out pinch-hitter Joey Gallo with a runner on first.
There was brief drama in the ninth after Diaz fielded Aaron Judge’s squib and dropped the ball in his throwing motion. It brought the tying run to the plate, but Diaz recovered to strike out Anthony Rizzo and Gleyber Torres to end it.
“I started laughing,” Diaz said, when asked about his flubbed throw. “After that I made my pitches and got the outs.”
The Yankees, who placed Giancarlo Stanton on the injured list before the game with left Achilles tendinitis, finished 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position.
“We just didn’t play well,” Rizzo said. “We couldn’t get a big hit when we needed it and we made more mistakes. In a game like this, the Subway Series, that’s going to be magnified.”
Walker’s night started badly, with consecutive home runs allowed to Judge and Rizzo in the first inning that gave the Yankees a 2-0 lead. Judge’s homer was his MLB-best 38th of the season, and his 82nd RBI briefly tied Alonso for the lead.
But the Mets jumped Montgomery in the bottom of the inning to go ahead 4-2. After Marte’s homer just inside the left-field foul pole, Francisco Lindor and Alonso delivered consecutive doubles, the latter of which drove in a run. Escobar blasted a two-run homer with two outs to cap the inning.
“Hitting that home run felt like it was my first big-league homer,” Escobar said, adding that he had never played in such an electric environment.
Alonso added: “That first inning was just a bunch of guys who are extremely resilient, committed to winning.”
Marte’s double leading off the third helped the Mets score an unearned run against Montgomery and take a 5-2 lead. In the inning, Lindor chopped a grounder that Josh Donaldson threw away — he plunked Lindor in the helmet running to first — allowing Marte to score.
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The lefty Montgomery lasted only 2 ¹/₃ innings and allowed five runs, four earned, on five hits with three strikeouts. The outing was Montgomery’s shortest of the season.
Walker escaped a potential catastrophe after loading the bases with one out in the fourth. DJ LeMahieu brought in a run with an RBI ground out before Judge walked on four pitches to reload the bases. Rizzo followed with a drive to deep center that Brandon Nimmo grabbed for the final out.
Though shaky early, Walker made it nine straight starts lasting at least six innings (a career-best). Overall, he allowed seven hits and one walk, departing after 101 pitches. The two home runs allowed matched his total in his previous eight starts combined.
Jeff McNeil’s RBI single in the eighth against Albert Abreu gave the Mets an insurance run. Lindor and Alonso singled in succession to begin the rally and advanced on a wild pitch.
“We’ve played a lot of emotional games here, already,” Mets manager Buck Showalter said. “Any time you play in New York and you play in front of our fans there is a real engagement. I understand why it might be a little different level tonight and rightfully so, but pressure is what you make of it and it’s a privilege.”