May 2013

Sabathia gets Yankees back on track

Subway Series hangover over. A little dose of CC was a big help.

In this case, the CC wasn’t Canadian Club whiskey but a pitcher named Sabathia, who not only righted the Yankees Friday night but also himself. The lefthander found his rhythm early amid hot and humid conditions and rang bells on the velocity pole he had not reached previously.

“I hadn’t seen a lot of 94s until tonight,” manager Joe Girardi said after the Yankees’ 4-1 victory over Boston that ended their five-game losing streak and got Sabathia his first winning decision in six starts since April 27.

Sabathia hit 94 miles per hour on his fastball occasionally and was regularly between 91 and 93 mph with his heater. CC talked after the game more about location than velocity but admitted he felt more like himself than he has for a while.

“It just felt good to get us back on the right track,” Sabathia said. “I always feel like it’s my responsibility to go out and have a good game and give us a chance to win, especially after what happened to us against the Mets.”

Sabathia was not part of the Subway Series sweep, but the five-game losing streak began on his watch with a poor outing last Sunday at Tropicana Field in an 8-3 drubbing by the Rays. Friday night was a different story.

“This is the kind of game we’re used to seeing from CC,” Girardi said. “This is almost where he is every year since he has been with us. When the weather warms up, he gets on a roll.”

Sabathia not only registered a few more ticks on the radar gun but had the bite back on his slider, the pitch he used for six of his 10 strikeouts in 7 1/3 innings. The only run he allowed was in the seventh on doubles by Dustin Pedroia and Mike Napoli. CC did not walk a batter.

“Anytime he was in a fastball count, he’d go to his breaking ball or his changeup to keep us off stride,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said. “He didn’t compound an issue by issuing a base on balls.”

Speaking of walks, the Yankees drew four of them off Jon Lester, twice as many as they had in the four games total against the Mets. Mark Teixeira started the Yankees’ two-run second inning with a walk. After Vernon Wells doubled, the Yankees scored on a single by Jayson Nix and one out later on a single by Ichiro Suzuki.

That would be all the support Sabathia would need, but the Yankees pushed across two more runs against Lester, who had defeated them back on Opening Day, on RBI singles by Kevin Youkilis in the fifth and Brett Gardner in the seventh.

It was also important to see Mariano Rivera get back on the bike again. Three nights after his stunning loss at Citi Field, Mo withstood singles by Pedroia and David Ortiz in the ninth to nail down his 19th save in 20 tries and 36th in a row at Yankee Stadium.

Girardi’s feistiness applauded

Yankees fans haven’t had much to cheer about these days amid a five-game losing streak. The crowd at Yankee Stadium Friday night was on its feet and cheering in the fifth inning for the first time in the homestand, a standing ovation accorded the manager, Joe Girardi.

The skipper bolted from the dugout right after Ichiro Suzuki grounded into a fielder’s choice. Of course, Girardi’s arrival on the field could be for no purpose other than to dispute the umpire’s call at second base, which was certainly open to question. Video replays were inconclusive about Joe’s contention that Red Sox shortstop Stephen Drew’s left foot was not on the bag as he stretched to his left to glove the slicing throw from pitcher Jon Lester. Second base umpire Vic Carapazza called David Adams out on the play in which Ichiro Suzuki hit a grounder back to the mound.

After the game, Girardi said he saw the replay and concluded that the Carapazza’s call was correct. “The reason I got upset was that I wanted him to get some help,” Girardi said. “If he had gotten some help and they said I was wrong, I’d have walked away.”

Girardi became pretty animated, which the crowd loved, and he clearly was not accepting the ump’s position. Carapazza eventually ejected Girardi, who received a standing ovation as he walked off the field and landed the lineup card to bench coach Tony Pena, who assumed the role of interim manager.

It was the 22nd career ejection for Girardi and his 19th as a manager (18 with the Yankees). The Yankees did get a run out of the inning. After Chris Stewart walked and Brett Gardner struck out, Kevin Youkilis singled to score Ichiro that raised the Yankees’ lead to 3-0. Youkilis and Mark Teixeira were back from the disabled list and were making contributions. Teixeira walked to lead off the second inning and eventually scored on a single by Jayson Nix.

Yanks & CC out to stop losing streaks

The Yankees looked to CC Sabathia in Friday night’s opener of a three-game series at Yankee Stadium against the Red Sox to stem the tide of a five-game losing streak that included the demoralizing, four-game sweep by the Mets in the Subway Series.

It marked the seventh time in Sabathia’s career that he started a game with his team on a losing streak of five-or-more games. His clubs had gone 3-3 in those six previous starts with Sabathia going 2-2 with a 3.12 ERA in 43 1/3 innings. CC pitched shutouts in each of his past two such outings, both to end five-game losing streaks: May 8, 2009 for the Yankees at Baltimore and Sept. 6, 2004 for the Indians at Seattle.

Sabathia has a personal losing streak he would like to stop as well. The lefthander has lost his past two decisions and is winless in five starts since April 27 with a 4.85 ERA in 29 2/3 innings.

The Yankees’ lineup had some fortification with the return from the disabled list of Kevin Youkilis, who was the designated hitter and batting second in the order, and Mark Teixeira, who was at first base and batting cleanup. To create roster space, the Yankees optioned pitchers Ivan Nova and Vidal Nuno to Triple A Scranton where they can pitch as starters.

Nuno was saving space in the rotation for Andy Pettitte, who is expected to come off the DL early next week. Another roster move will need to be done to activate Pettitte. Now that the Yankees are back to 11 pitchers, the move will involve a position player. Manager Joe Girardi has indicated a preference to have two infielders capable of playing shortstop, which is the case with Jayson Nix and Reid Brignac. David Adams, who has played third base with the Yankees and has been a second baseman in the minors, has no experience at shortstop and is the likely player to be optioned. But as Girardi also pointed out, anything can happen in a matter of days.

Look at the Red Sox Friday night, for example. Jacoby Ellsbury, who had three hits and five stolen bases Thursday night in Boston’s 9-2 victory over the Phillies, was out of the lineup due to a groin injury.

The Yankees and the Blue Jays will make up the May 19 rainout at Yankee Stadium at 1:05 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 20, in the first game of a day-night doubleheader. The second game will start at 7:05 p.m.

Yankees to celebrate Matsui’s career July 28

Hideki Matsui was a big hit with Yankees fans from the moment he stepped foot in Yankee Stadium and hit a grand slam in his debut Opening Day in 2003. The Yankees will pay tribute to the Japanese slugger’s illustrious career in ceremonies July 28 before the 1:05 p.m. game against the Rays, the club for which Matsui ended his time in the major leagues last year.

In order to retire officially as a member of the Yankees organization, Matsui will sign a one-day, minor league contract that day. His parents are also expected to attend the game.

The first 18,000 fans at the game will receive a Hideki Matsui bobblehead – which portrays the slugger with his 2009 World Series Most Valuable Player trophy. In honor of Matsui, who wore uniform No. 55 with the Yankees, the day’s events are to take place on the Yankees’ originally scheduled 55th home game of the 2013 season.

Matsui was also recently honored by the Yomiuri Giants – whom he played for 10 seasons from 1993-2002 – in a ceremony May 5 at the Tokyo Dome. During that event, Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe presented Matsui with the People’s Honor Award, the country’s most prestigious award bestowed on those who have made significant achievements in their careers and are beloved by the public.

Matsui, whose nickname in Japan was “Godzilla,” played 10 seasons in the majors, the first seven with the Yankees from 2003-09 in which he batted .292 with 536 runs, 196 doubles, 11 triples, 140 home runs and 597 RBI in 3,348 at-bats. He was originally signed by the Yankees as a free agent Jan. 14, 2003, following his 10-year career in Tokyo with the Yomiuri Giants.

The two-time All-Star (2003-04) did not miss a game over his first three years with the Yankees. His 518 consecutive games remains the longest streak to start a major-league career. Matsui also drove in at least 100 runs four times, including each of his first three seasons.

In his final game with the Yankees Nov. 4, 2009, Matsui had 3-for-4 with a home run and six RBI in their World Series-clinching Game 6 victory over the Phillies at the Stadium. He tied the single-game World Series RBI record of Yankees second baseman Bobby Richardson in 1960 and Cardinals first baseman Albert Pujols in 2011 and sealed his unanimous selection as World Series MVP.

Matsui spent a season apiece with the Angels, Athletics and Rays after leaving the Yankees and finished his career with a .282 batting average, 175 home runs and 760 RBI.

“He is extremely deserving of this honor,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “When I think of Hideki, I think of a great player and a great teammate. Even when he was having some problems with his legs in his later years, he would come up with big hits, none bigger than the ones he had in the 2009 World Series.”

Yanks suffer a sweep in the subway

Maybe it was a good thing that the Subway Series was reduced from six games to four this year. The Yankees could do without any more games against the Mets, thank you. The annual, cross-borough matchup was all blue and orange as anyone passing the Empire State Building this week knows.

The Yankees did not need to stare at the midtown landmark to know what the Mets did to them the past four nights. Thursday night’s 3-1 loss was another example of an offensive breakdown. After Robinson Cano accounted for the Yankees’ only run with one out in the third inning, the next 20 batters were retired.

Dillon Gee looked like Tom Seaver as the Mets righthander gave up only three singles other than Cano’s 14th home run with no walks and 12 strikeouts, including the last five batters he faced, in 7 1/3 innings. Relievers Scott Rice and Bobby Parnell (ninth save) handled matters from there.

The Yankees failed to draw a walk for the third consecutive game. They had only two walks in the four games and struck out 40 times. They scored seven runs overall and only one in three of the games as their losing streak expanded to five games, their longest in two years. They wasted a decent start from rookie lefthander Vidal Nuno (6 innings 3 hits, 2 runs, 2 walks, 2 strikeouts) and could not keep the taunts of “Let’s Go Mets” from being heard throughout the game among the Yankee Stadium crowd of 44,207.

This is definitely a low point for the Yankees, who were swept by the Mets in the Subway Series for the first time since inter-league play began in 1997. There are 11 players on the current roster that played in the Subway Series for the first time. They were looking forward to the experience going in but have little positive to say about it now.

“We have got to find a way to get out of it,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “Tomorrow is as good a day to get back to our winning ways as any.”

Tomorrow (Friday) the first-place Red Sox roll into town for a three-game series. Boston has a two-game lead over the Yankees in the American League East, which means they have to sweep to get back into first place. There is a good chance that Mark Teixeira and Kevin Youkilis will be activated for the series. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Yankees sent a limousine to Trenton to get them to the Bronx.

“I hope they feel good and can be productive,” Girardi said.

Nuno was victimized by Marlon Byrd’s second home run of the series, a two-run shot to left in the second inning. Cano’s homer in the bottom half made the score 2-1, and it stayed that way until the eighth when Joba Chamberlain, in his first game back from the disabled list, was guilty of a costly wild pitch that set up a run when John Buck’s slow roller along the third base line hit the bag for an RBI single.

The Yankees have lost back-to-back series for the first time since going 1-2 in each of their first two series of the season, against the Red Sox April 1-4 and the Tigers April 5-7 and were swept in back-to-back series for the first time since 2009, 0-2 vs. the Red Sox May 4-5 and 0-2 vs. the Rays May 6-7.

The Yanks finished the Subway Series 0-4, which matches their most losses in a single season against the Mets (2-4 in both 2004 and ’08). The four-game losing streak against the Mets is the Yankees’ longest against them. According to the Elias Sport Bureau, the Yankees were swept in a season series of at least four games against a single team for only the second time in franchise history. They were 0-12 against the Athletics in 1990.

Yankees Summer Camps run from June 24-Aug. 23

Yankees Summer Camps will take place in the New York tri-state area beginning the week of June 24. Sessions will run on a weekly basis in various locations through Aug. 23. In New York, camps will take place in White Plains, Somers, the Bronx, Rye, Tarrytown, West Nyack and Old Brookville. In New Jersey, camps will be held in Verona, Paramus, Parsippany, Holmdel, Oradell, Princeton, Summit and Far Hills. In Connecticut, there will be a camp in Darien.

Yankees Summer Camps are available to boys and girls between the ages of 5 and 13, and each camper will receive a full Yankees uniform. In addition to on-field skills development and professional instruction, campers also get the opportunity to take a guided tour of Yankee Stadium.

Campers enrolled in sessions taking place while the Yankees are on the road will be given a tour of the Yankees clubhouse. Campers taking part in sessions when the team is at home will meet a current member of the 2013 Yankees. Each session consists of five days of camp and costs $549 per camper.

“We offer young ballplayers of all skill sets a first-class instructional experience based on leadership and character development,” Yankees Summer Camps director Brendan Sullivan said. “The combination of on-field skill work coupled with the exclusive access we offer to Yankee Stadium will make this a lasting memory for all the children who attend.”

All sessions will feature an innovative curriculum and differentiated practice drills based on each player’s grade and skill level. Yankees Summer Camps will introduce video analysis for campers ages 9 and older to further enhance and personalize the instruction.

As part of the American Dairy Association and Dairy Council’s “Refuel with Chocolate Milk” initiative, 85 children from families in the Bronx will receive full scholarships to attend Yankees Summer Camp at Heritage Field, which is located on the site of the original Yankee Stadium and administered by the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation.

For more information on Yankees Summer Camps, including enrollment forms, please visit http://www.yankees.com/camps.

Here are the sites:

NEW YORK
Archbishop Stepinac H.S. (White Plains) — June 24-28
Kennedy Catholic H.S. (Somers) — July 1-6 (no camp July 4)
Mount Saint Michaels Academy (The Bronx) — July 8-12
Rye Neck H.S. (Rye) — July 15-19
Hackley School (Tarrytown) — July 22-26
Clarkstown South H.S. (West Nyack) — July 29-Aug. 2
Green Vale School (Old Brookville, L.I.) — Aug. 5-9 (Sold Out)

NEW JERSEY
Verona H.S. — June 24-28
Bergen Community College (Paramus) — July 8-12
Parsippany Police Athletic League — July 15-19
Holmdel H.S. — July 22-26
River Dell H.S. (Oradell) — July29-Aug. 2
Princeton Day School — Aug. 5-9
Kent Place School (Summit) — Aug. 12-16
Far Hills Country Day School — Aug. 19-23

CONNECTICUTDarien H.S. — Aug. 12-16

Subway Series subpar so far for Yankees

The Yankees have hit their first skid of the season since they began it by losing four of the first five games. They rectified that by going on a 22-9 run that shot them up the American League East standings. The Yankees need to get some of that juice back.

They have been derailed in this Subway Series. Manager Joe Girardi has said that he does not like the four-game format because he would prefer an odd number of games so that one club could be declared a winner and there can be no splits. Not a problem this year, Joe. The Mets have won the first three games, so the series is theirs for this season.

This is difficult for Yankees fans to swallow because they have to live with Mets fans the rest of the summer who will lord this over them. After all, what else do the Mets have to get their fan base excited beyond the rise of a very impressive young pitcher in Matt Harvey? Regardless of how dreadful the Mets season is likely to develop their fans will have the memory of holding the Yankees down for the better part of a week.

After winning two straight 2-1 decisions at Citi Field and beating bullpen stalwarts David Robertson and Mariano Rivera in the process, the Mets knocked Yankees starter David Phelps out of Wednesday night’s game in the first inning on a collection of well-struck hits and a very costly error by third baseman Jayson Nix to put up a five-spot. The Mets pushed their lead to 8-0 by the fourth inning on the way to a 9-4 verdict.

Phelps, who took a line drive off his pitching forearm in his previous start, was just not himself. He failed to survive the first inning for the first time in his whole career, including high school and college as well as pro ball.

“My pitches were up; everything was up,” said Phelps, who added that his forearm was not the problem. “I need to do a better job of not letting things snow-ball.”

“He just had a stinker,” Girardi said of Phelps, who was charged with five runs (four earned), four hits and two walks in one-third of an inning as his ERA bloated to 4.65. It was the second time this year that a Yankees starter failed to survive the first inning (also Phil Hughes May 15), which had happened only once prior to this season since the current Yankee Stadium opened in 2009. Phelps was the first Yankees starter to exit having recorded only one out in a non-injury situation since Alex Graman July 19, 2004 at St. Petersburg, Fla., and the first at home since Mike Witt allowed four earned runs in one-third of an inning June 1, 1993 against the Indians at the Stadium.

One night after the Yankees could not hang the first ‘L’ of the season on Harvey’s record, they let Jeremy Hefner get the first ‘W’ of his season after five losses. The Yankees did get 12 hits off three Mets pitchers but not enough were productive other than Brennan Boesch’s third home run plus a hustling, RBI single and run-scoring singles by Nix and Robinson Cano.

It was not that long ago – last Saturday, to be precise – that the Yankees were riding high. They had a come-from-behind, 11-inning victory that day at Tropicana Field in stunning fashion with game-tying and game-winning rallies that began with two outs and nobody on base. They looked invincible, but they have not won a game since as their season-high losing streak has stretched to four games.

In the meantime, the Mets have not lost since Saturday and are on a four-game winning streak. New York’s baseball clubs are traveling on subways headed in opposite directions.

Teixeira & Youkilis working their way back

Mark Teixeira and Kevin Youkilis began their injury-rehabilitation assignments Wednesday at Double A Trenton and should be back with the Yankees soon. This has resulted in speculation on the radio talk shows that their return might upset the chemistry the club has developed in the first six weeks of the season.

I have heard some people say that maybe the Yankees should keep things the way they are with Lyle Overbay at first base and David Adams at third. This type of thinking is nothing short of preposterous.

There is no question that Overbay has been a godsend in the season-long absence of Teixeira, who never gets off to good starts anyway. Adams has also shown that he can hit major-league pitching and has displayed better defensive skills than had been expected. That said; let us not forget that Teixeira and Youkilis are former All-Star players with an abundance of postseason experience that includes World Series championships.

Following a two-game series at Citi Field in which the Yankees scored only two runs in 18 innings, who can say the quality of bats swung by Teixeira and Youkilis aren’t needed? The Yankees have gotten from their replacements more than they could have dreamed when they left training camp.

The Yankees took a 30-21 record into Wednesday night’s shift of the Subway Series to Yankee Stadium, and there is not one person in the organization who is not at least somewhat surprised at the developments.

But as manager Joe Girardi acknowledged before Wednesday night’s game, the Yankees’ lineup remains overly left-handed (seven of the nine hitters in the order bat from the left side), so the prospect of Teixeira and Youkilis returning is welcomed. Girardi intends to be careful with both and will gradually work them into the framework as he did earlier this month when outfielder Curtis Granderson came off the disabled list (only to bounce back on with a broken little finger).

For that reason, Overbay is likely to be retained despite the fact that Tex and Youk both can play that position. There is still a fear among the Yankees that Teixeira might not be completely out of the woods as the Jose Bautista situation last year in Toronto attests. If Adams is sent back to Triple A Scranton, the Yankees would be wise to see that he plays primarily on the infield corners rather than his normal second base spot.

The point is, the Yankees need a healthy Teixeira and Youkilis to give the team a boost as it moves into the second third of the season.

The Yankees were still recovering from the two-game sweep at Citi Field and the unexpected bullpen breakdown. The series marked the first time David Robertson and Mariano Rivera each took the loss in the same series.

Rivera’s blown save Tuesday night was his first of the season and ended a streak of 23 converted save opportunities dating to last season. It was the first time Mo blew a save without recording an out and only the third appearance of any kind in his career when he did not get an out. It was his second straight blown save against the Mets, following that of July 3, 2011 at Citi Field and the third time in his career he squandered consecutive save chances at an opposing park. It also occurred July 12 and 14, 2002 at Cleveland and three in a row Sept. 9, 2010, April 24, 2011 and May 18, 2011 at Baltimore.

The Yankees have been held to one run in consecutive games for the first time since May 16-17, 2012 at Toronto (8-1 and 4-1 losses) and lost consecutive one-run games for the first time since July 29-30, 2012, 3-2, to the Red Sox and 5-4 to the Orioles. It marks the second time the Yanks lost consecutive one-run games to the Mets. It also happened July 3-4, 2004 by scores of 10-9 and 6-5. The Yankees started the season with a 5-0 record in one-run games but have lost four of the past five such games and are 9-6 overall.

Yankees starters Phil Hughes and Hiroki Kuroda in the two-game sweep each pitched seven innings and allowed four hits. It was the first time that Yankees starters put up those stats in consecutive starts and the Yankees losing both games since Aug. 9-10 against the White Sox at Yankee Stadium by Shawn Chacon (7 innings, 3 hits) and Aaron Small (7 innings, 4 hits).

Kuroda’s start Tuesday night was his fourth of the season in which he pitched at least seven innings without allowing a run, tying the Indians’ Justin Masterson and the Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw for the most in the majors. It was his 10th such start since joining the Yankees, the most in the majors over the past two years.

The Yankees were swept by the Mets in a series of any length for the first time since 2008 and went winless in a series in Queens for only the second time. They sustained a three-game sweep July 2-4, 20004. The Yankees have lost consecutive games to the Mets for the first time since losing three in a row May 22 to June 18, 2010.

Mo’s 1st blown save comes in Citi Field finale

Was that any way to treat a legend?

The Mets were nice and friendly before the game by giving Mariano Rivera gifts for his farewell appearance at Citi Field and even having him throw out the ceremonial first pitch. There were even cheers from the crowd when Mo entered the game in the bottom of the ninth to try and nail down his 19th consecutive save and give Hiroki Kuroda a deserved winning decision.

Mets players had other ideas, however, and struck hard and quickly against the game’s greatest closer. The man who threw out the first pitch ended up with his first loss of the season with the last one, off of which Lucas Duda lined a single to right field that gave the Mets their second 2-1 victory in a row over the Yankees.

There was a suddenness to all this that is not often seen against Rivera. I do not remember the last time I saw him not get a single out in an appearance. Daniel Murphy, who was frustrated throughout these two games because of Brett Gardner’s defense, got the ball rolling in the ninth with a double down the left-field line.

David Wright followed by fighting off an inside cutter and getting the ball into center field for a single that scored Murphy with the tying run that stuck Mo with his first blown save of year. Rivera also made an uncustomary mistake by not backing up the plate on Gardner’s throw home. The ball got by catcher Chris Stewart, which allowed Wright to advance into scoring position at second base. Duda’s hit came three pitches later off another inside cutter.

After being ejected for arguing an umpire’s call in the sixth inning, Mets manager Terry Collins watched the rest of the game from a video room near the clubhouse. With tapes of Rivera on the screen, Collins told Mets players who came into the room that they should be aware that Mo will be around the plate and they needed to stay inside with their swings, not to think long ball. Very sound advice, it turned out.

Rivera told reporters that his location was fine and gave the Mets credit for getting good swings against him. In a matter of minutes, the Mets stunned the game’s greatest closer and kept their phenom, Matt Harvey, from suffering his first loss of the season

Anticipated pitching duels do not always materialize. Tuesday night’s Round 2 of the Subway Series lived up to its billing, however.

Although attention from ESPN to the national television audience centered on Harvey, Kuroda stole the spotlight. Do not misunderstand me. Harvey was brilliant and showed that he has been worth all the accolades he has received. This kid is clearly the goods.

But as Yankees fans can attest, so is Kuroda. With CC Sabathia and Phil Hughes having uneven seasons and Andy Pettitte and Ivan Nova having done time on the disabled list, Kuroda has been the most dependable starter in the Yanks’ rotation. He is no stranger to the Mets, whom he faced often in his National League years with the Dodgers, but he has been a much different pitcher in his games against them for the Yankees.

Kuroda was 1-5 with a 5.75 ERA against the Mets in seven starts with the Dodgers. Since taking part in the Subway Series the past two years, Kuroda has yet to give up a run to the Mets over 14 innings. The righthander scattered four singles, did not walk a batter and struck out seven in his seven innings of work. Nearly a year ago, Kuroda pitched seven shutout innings and allowed one hit in beating the Mets, 9-1, June 8, 2012 at Yankee Stadium.

Harvey made only one real mistake in his eight innings – a changeup that stayed up for Lyle Overbay, who singled home the Yankees’ only run. It was earned but somewhat tainted since Gardner got to second base after his leadoff single on an error by right fielder Marlon Byrd. Harvey allowed six hits, all singles, with no walks and 10 strikeouts.

For the second straight night, Gardner lent his glove hand in support of his pitcher. Once again, Murphy was the victim. Gardner robbed the Mets’ second baseman of a two-run home run in Monday night’s 2-1 Mets victory. The larceny this time was not as costly, but it did likely cost the Mets one run.

In the sixth inning with Ruben Tejada on first base after reaching on an error by Robinson Cano, Murphy launched a drive to left-center where Gardner raced over and made a lunging, one-handed grab to ruin a bid for an extra-base hit. Tejada almost certainly would have scored had the ball not been caught. Tejada moved to second on a passed ball by Stewart, but Kuroda teamed with shortstop Reid Brignac for an inning-ending pickoff, which was hotly contested by Collins, who got the boot.

Murphy would get revenge on Gardner in the bottom of the ninth by beating his throw home to give the Mets life and head the Yankees toward their first three-game losing streak of the season. The Subway Series moves to the Bronx Wednesday night. It has been a bumpy ride so far.

Mets & New York’s bravest honor Mo

The Mets invited the pitcher who has done the best job at throwing the last pitch of games to throw out the ceremonial first pitch before Tuesday night’s Subway Series game, probably the last time Mariano Rivera will be at Citi Field in a Yankees uniform. Rivera was honored with a film tribute on the center field video board before handling the duties and making the toss to former Mets closer John Franco.

In the interview room before the game, the start of which was delayed for an hour and a half because of rain, Rivera was presented with a plaque of an authentic fire hose from Mets chief operating officer Jeff Wilpon and another of an authentic call box by New York Fire Department commissioner Salvatore Cassano.

“Mariano has been a great friend to the FDNY for many, many years,” Cassano said. “He has been at many of our widows-and-orphans events. This is just a little token of our appreciation for your last visit at Citi Field.”

Wilpon called Rivera the ultimate fireman in baseball and added, “We have watched you for so many years. It’s a great honor to have you be here for the last time. I wish we could see you in the World Series, but I’m not sure it’s going to happen this year.”

“You never know,” Rivera quipped.

Baseball’s all-time saves leader continued his farewell trip with the two-day visit to Citi Field. He met with long-time season ticket holders and club employees Monday. He made special mention of Jimmy Crupi, a security guard in the visitors bullpen both at Citi and the old Shea Stadium.

“Jimmy’s my man,” Rivera said. “These [plaques] will have a special place in my home. I have enjoyed every game I played here. I saved some games [22] and blew some games [2], but it was always special.”

The Yankees activated Joba Chamberlain for the game and designated pitcher David Huff for assignment. Manager Joe Girardi said that first baseman Mark Teixeira and infielder Kevin Youkilis will report to Double A Trenton for injury-rehabilitation assignments. It is possible they may be activated for the upcoming series against the Red Sox beginning Friday night at Yankee Stadium.