The Yankees and the Mets have spent 4 months together atop the East divisions of the American and National Leagues. They played close games on 4 nights in two boroughs this summer, with 4 weeks in between. The Mets swept the Yankees in Queens, the Yankees swept the Mets within the Bronx. The ultimate hitter even flied out to center field, same because it was way back when.
That was within the Subway Series — the capitalized version, in 2000, when the Yankees beat the Mets in a five-game World Series that was riveting from first pitch to last. The town can dream of an encore again, since the Yankees have shaken their slumber.
Until these Yankees, no team had ever played .700 baseball for the primary 60 games of a season, then followed up with a losing record for the subsequent 60. Whatever else happens, then, the 2022 Yankees will all the time have that: first team to ever be that strong and that sluggish, in equal measures, just before the stretch run.
“Crucial thing is we learned from it,” said Aaron Judge, after the Yankees’ third 4-2 victory in a row on Tuesday night. “We learned about what to not do.”
You’re taking the great, you are taking the bad, you are taking them each and there you will have — well, we’re about to search out out. These are the facts of the Yankees’ life: Their record isn’t quite pretty much as good because the Mets’, but their position is sturdier. The Yankees headed for the West Coast late Tuesday night with an eight-game lead over Tampa Bay within the A.L. East. The Mets stood just two games in front of Atlanta on the N.L. side.
“A number of people would like to have their problems,” Mets Manager Buck Showalter said of the Yankees, before Monday’s game — and perhaps he knew something.
The Mets had just stolen a win in Philadelphia on Sunday, getting most of their outs from pitchers making their major league debuts. On Monday, Showalter sent a future Hall of Famer, Max Scherzer, to the mound — and the Mets lost, in fact, because baseball is so delightfully bizarre.
That game assured the Yankees of snapping their streak of six losing series in a row. They’d not done that since 1995, when Showalter was their manager. After hundreds of games in other dugouts, Showalter, naturally, has gone full Met; when a reporter mentioned the energetic crowd at Yankee Stadium on Tuesday, Showalter replied, “Yeah, it was almost pretty much as good as ours that we had at Citi Field.”
Tuesday night had all the things a Yankee fan could want: stylish defense, stout performances by Frankie Montas and Andrew Benintendi — the team’s important additions on the trading deadline — and a homer by Judge for the second night in a row. Within the nine games before that, he hadn’t gone deep.
“Home run drought?” Judge said after Monday’s blast, an opposite-field shot off Scherzer. “That’s news to me.”
On Tuesday, off Taijuan Walker, Judge launched a 453-foot blast deep into the bleachers above left-center. He took command of the stage, as usual — that’s 10 homers in 21 profession games against the Mets — and has now connected 48 times for the season.
Through the identical variety of team games in 1961, Roger Maris had hit 49 home runs for the Yankees on his solution to an A.L.-record 61. Maris hit .269 that season, with a .372 on-base percentage and a .620 slugging percentage. Judge is best in each metric: .294/.394/.663.
“The dude is just about the perfect hitter immediately,” Montas said. “I feel like each time he steps to the plate, everybody expects a house run. I mean, he’s a stud.”
The Yankees surely wish Judge had taken their contract offer in April, yet they have to be impressed by the arrogance he showed in rejecting it. Judge, who turned down seven years and $213.5 million, challenged himself to indicate he was value much more — and now he’s stirring memories of hallowed names like Maris and Mickey Mantle.
“You continue to don’t imagine it,” Judge said. “It’s pretty wild to take into consideration, especially the things that they achieved over their profession, the things they did for this game of baseball, the records they set. I try not to take a look at it, because we’re still a great distance away from even being in that class.”
The subplot will only intensify because the season rolls on; the division title is all but assured, and the subsequent week should help the Yankees further distance themselves from their 4-14 begin to August. Their bumbling opponents — the Oakland Athletics and the Los Angeles Angels — are only a part of the rationale.
The roster is about to get a jolt: the slugger Giancarlo Stanton will come off the injured list on Thursday after missing a month with left Achilles tendinitis, and closer Clay Holmes is nearing his return from back spasms. Starter Luis Severino (shoulder) threw 24 pitches off a mound on Tuesday, and reliever Zack Britton (elbow) is starting a rehabilitation task this week.
Exceptional health was a largely ignored reason behind the Yankees’ torrid start. The primary few months, General Manager Brian Cashman said, was “probably the perfect run of non-injuries I’ve ever experienced.” Even so, Cashman tempted fate by trading for an injured player, Harrison Bader, who continues to be recovering from plantar fasciitis.
Bader, a Gold Glove center fielder for St. Louis last season, is a Yankee in haircut only, his flowing blond locks gone to comply with team policy. On the clubhouse television Monday night, the pitcher the Yankees traded for Bader — Jordan Montgomery — was spinning a one-hit shutout for the Cardinals. When he finished it, a few of his old teammates cheered.
Montgomery is now 4-0 for St. Louis, and Montas continues to be looking for his first win for the Yankees. But he pitched well on Tuesday and succeeded in rattling the Mets’ Pete Alonso, who whiffed on a high fastball and took it out on his bat, cracking it over his left leg on his way back to the dugout.
Alonso’s bat snapped as easily as a Kit-Kat bar; if he does it in the identical setting two months from now, we’ll be seeing the clip endlessly. The World Series magnifies all the things, and with the Yankees looking like themselves again, an all-Recent York version is back in play. If the summer games were a preview, an autumn reprise can be spellbinding.
“Especially against a terrific ballclub like that, battling all the way down to the last inning, out, strike — that’s fun baseball,” Judge said. “That’s why we play this game, for moments like that.”