The ultimate hit on Wednesday night bounced into the glove of Aaron Hicks, and in fact he didn’t want it. Hicks, the Yankees’ left fielder, gathered Starling Marte’s game-winning single, held it for some time after which flung it aside like a bit of gum. A ball boy retrieved it and tossed it into the group at Citi Field. Trash for the Yankees, treasure for the fans.
The Mets’ 3-2 victory gave them a two-game sweep of the Yankees in the primary Subway Series since 2015 wherein each teams were holding first place of their divisions. They are going to meet for 2 more games next month within the Bronx, and possibly again in the autumn.
“Oh, that’d be great,” said the Mets’ Pete Alonso, who hit his twenty sixth homer on Wednesday. “If we’re playing against one another in November, that’d be awesome.”
Alonso said he knew the Mets and the Yankees had met within the World Series an extended time ago — a blow to those of us who remember it well, but accurate from his perspective. The Polar Bear was only a cub in October 2000, only five years old when the Yankees danced on the lawn at Shea Stadium after winning their third title in a row.
There was no celebration for the visitors in Flushing this time.
The Yankees have lost 10 of their last 15 games, including a road doubleheader last week to the Houston Astros, who thumped them within the season series, five games to 2. Those results pierced the Yankees’ aura, perhaps, but not their confidence. They’d prefer to remind you that they’re still baseball’s best team, at 66-33 before Thursday’s game with Kansas City.
“We’re unfazed,” Manager Aaron Boone said. “We all know where we’re going.”
Boone was feisty after Wednesday’s loss, disputing the notion that the Yankees’ lineup has too many power hitters susceptible to striking out. It was “fake news,” he claimed — can’t we bury that term already? — but acknowledged that it sure was nice to have a recent outfielder, Andrew Benintendi, who makes a whole lot of contact and leads the American League in singles.
“We’ve got savages within the lineup, really good hitters,” Boone said. “Benintendi’s an excellent hitter — gets on base at a very high clip, hits from the left side, gives you some balance. If we get him, that’s one other really good big-league hitter so as to add to the combo that’s going to elongate out your lineup.”
Boone spoke just before the trade became official: Benintendi to the Yankees, three Class A pitchers to the Royals. A Gold Glove left fielder last season, Benintendi was hitting .320 with a .387 on-base percentage and three home runs for Kansas City. Benintendi, 28, helped the Boston Red Sox win the 2018 championship, batting second in all of their World Series victories.
“Bat-to-ball skills, speed, all the time works at-bat — and in case you’re not too careful, man, he can leave the yard on you,” said the Yankees’ Aaron Judge. “I’ve seen it over and over at Yankee Stadium. Only a well-rounded player, that’s needless to say.”
Benintendi, who has seven profession homers in 30 games at Yankee Stadium, is largely the antithesis of Joey Gallo, the outfielder who has hit .160 with 191 strikeouts in 418 at-bats since his trade from Texas last July. Gallo’s 25 homers haven’t been enough to offset all of the empty at-bats.
The Yankees produce other pressing issues: reliever Michael King had season-ending elbow surgery this week, the starter Luis Severino has been shut down for nearly two weeks with a right lat strain and the slugger Giancarlo Stanton is out with a left Achilles’ injury. This season, it seems, will not be as charmed because it seemed for the primary three months.
“We all know we’re really good, and we all know we’re going to hit a snag within the season,” Boone said. “We’re equipped for it. We’re able to cope with it. We actually embrace a bit of little bit of adversity. We’ll power our way through it, no doubt in my mind.”
With an 11½-game lead within the A.L. East through Wednesday, the Yankees have reason to be comfortable. The Mets lead Atlanta by only three games within the National League East — but they, too, are hoping to profit from adversity in time.
Max Scherzer, who turned 38 on Wednesday, missed greater than a month with a strained left oblique muscle; if he’s at his best in October, the forced rest may have been value it. He has returned as an ace in full this month, with a 1.39 earned run average in five starts, passing Bob Gibson on the profession strikeout list along the way in which.
Scherzer retired Judge 4 times on Wednesday, thrice with third-strike sliders that Judge expected but couldn’t handle.
“The primary at-bat, I used to be everywhere in the heater,” said Judge, who lined out to right. “I used to be sort of sitting on the slider the remaining of the sport, and sometimes when that happens, you expand the zone a bit of bit.”
The Mets’ other multi-time Cy Young Award winner, Jacob deGrom, also pitched on Wednesday, working 4 innings for Class AAA Syracuse. DeGrom, who has handled a stress response on his right scapula, has not pitched within the majors in greater than a yr. The day without work, in theory, could make deGrom at his strongest when it matters most, though the Mets cannot be sure.
“Whenever you pitch at the extent he’s pitched at, I don’t know,” Manager Buck Showalter said. “I can’t sit here and say that I do know. But it’s going to be fun to seek out out.”
Showalter said the Mets hoped to activate deGrom from the injured list early next week — right across the Aug. 2 trading deadline, because it happens. There isn’t any higher arm the Mets could find on the open market, and no higher reason for optimism that a deep playoff run could possibly be of their future.
And in the event that they find yourself in a rematch of that long-ago duel with the Yankees? As Alonso said: awesome, indeed.