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The Yankees Outlasted an Ace. Two More May Loom.


A day after battling Alek Manoah, a candidate for this 12 months’s American League Cy Young Award, and warding off a four-game sweep by the hands of the Toronto Blue Jays, the Yankees won’t get a break. Looming on Monday and Tuesday is a two-game series against the Mets and the potential of facing the two-headed monster atop their crosstown rival’s starting rotation.

First up is Max Scherzer, who’s scheduled to start out Monday night at Yankee Stadium. Jacob deGrom had been expected to follow, maintaining their recent string of back-to-back starts, but he could find yourself being pushed back — giving the slumping Yankees a gentle reprieve — so the Mets may give Taijuan Walker a start as a substitute.

Walker, who left his start on Tuesday with back spasms, had a magnetic resonance imaging test, which revealed a bulging disk, but he participated in pitcher fielding practice on Sunday. Mets Manager Buck Showalter told reporters that the workout went well and that Walker could now take Tuesday’s start, however the Mets won’t resolve until Monday.

Either way, the Yankees have a tall task in front of them at a time when they may use just a few easy matchups. They beat the Blue Jays, 4-2, on Sunday at Yankee Stadium after Andrew Benintendi hit his first home run since being traded from Kansas City, however the Yankees have just five wins this month and are coming off a .500 July.

“No secret what we’re going through,” Yankees Manager Aaron Boone said after Benintendi’s two-run, seventh-inning shot off Adam Cimber. “That was an enormous blow and a crucial game.”

The Yankees (74-48) scored as many runs Sunday as that they had in the primary three games of the series against Toronto. They held a 15.5-game lead within the American League East through July 8, however the Yankees’ advantage over Toronto and Tampa Bay is now right down to eight games.

That’s loads of cushion for a team that looked like a World Series favorite over the primary three months of the season. However the Mets (79-44) have been far hotter in recent weeks, and the prospect of facing Scherzer and, perhaps, deGrom is formidable for any team.

Scherzer, a 38-year-old right-hander, is adding yet one more stellar campaign to his résumé. He owns a 2.15 E.R.A. in his first season with the Mets. He most recently allowed 4 earned runs over six and one-third innings against Atlanta on Wednesday. He had left that game with the Mets leading, 6-1, however the bases were loaded when he gave technique to Adam Ottavino, who allowed a three-run homer later within the inning.

DeGrom, meanwhile, made his season debut on Aug. 2 after recovering from a shoulder injury. DeGrom, a 34-year-old right-hander, has been his usual self in 4 starts, allowing six earned runs over 23⅓ innings while striking out 37 and walking one. In his last start, deGrom gave up three runs and struck out nine against Atlanta over six and two-thirds innings.

Even when the Yankees face Walker on Tuesday, he won’t be a simple project. A 2021 All-Star, Walker owns a 3.36 E.R.A. over 21 starts this season, including a win over the Yankees on July 26. Walker, 30, held the Yankees to 3 runs at Citi Field that night, and the Mets took each games of that series.

Now the Yankees want to exact a little bit revenge. But more vital, they’re hoping to remain on a winning track after a difficult series against a division foe ended with a hard-fought victory.

“You actually never wish to get swept, and to win this last one was big,” Benintendi said. “Hopefully, it’s going to kick-start a little bit streak here. Obviously, it’s not ideal, but we’re still in an important spot.”

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