Beltran, McCann provide power turnaround
Beaten up by Mets’ home runs Friday night, the Yankees returned the favor Saturday by going deep twice against fireballer Noah Syndergaard, which accounted for all their runs in a 5-0 victory that tied up Round 2 of the Subway Series that will end tonight with CC Sabathia opposing Matt Harvey on ESPN.
Saturday’s game was a national telecast as well, on FOX, and the Yankees came out looking a whole lot better to the nation than the Mets, although the standings tell a different story. The Mets still have a commanding lead in the National League East while the Yanks trail the Blue Jays by four games in the American League East but with a firm hold on a wild-card slot.
Home runs by Lucas Duda, Daniel Murphy and Juan Uribe were the key blows for the Mets in their 5-1 victory Friday night, and the Yankees wasted no time responding with a three-run blast in the first inning by Carlos Beltran. Blast, indeed. Beltran turned around a 100-mph fastball on a 0-2 count from Syndergaard with the ball banging off the facing of the second deck at Citi Field where the switch hitter played in three of his six-plus seasons with the Mets.
The Queens ballpark is also the place where Syndergaard has been practically unbeatable in his rookie season. The flame-throwing righthander entered play Saturday with an 8-6 record and 3.20 ERA overall but 7-1 with a 2.15 ERA at Citi Field. The Yankees certainly adjusted those numbers.
In fact, the Yankees went against the numbers. Beltran went into the game with a .193 career average against the Mets. Yankees starter Michael Pineda had allowed eight earned runs in 11 1/3 innings (6.35 ERA) in his previous two starts and was 1-3 with a 6.27 ERA and eight home runs allowed in 33 innings over his six prior starts. Saturday, however, Pineda joined the recent run of success by Yankees starters.
Pineda did not allow a runner past second base in his 5 1/3 innings in taming the Mets on four singles and one walk with four strikeouts. Over the past six games, the Yankees’ rotation is 3-1 with a 1.30 ERA in 34 2/3 innings. The only loss was to Masahiro Tanaka Friday night, and he left the game trailing only 2-1.
Syndergaard recovered from the blow by Beltran that followed singles by Jacoby Ellsbury and Brett Gardner resembling their 1-2 combo earlier in the season by retiring 12 batters in order before Dustin Ackley, starting at second base, opened the fifth inning with a triple over Yoenis Cespedes in center field. Yankees pitchers have done a good job of neutralizing Cespedes at the plate. He is 0-for-8 in the series.
The Yankees did not capitalize on Ackley’s hit as Syndergaard struck out Didi Gregorius and Pineda and got Ellsbury on a weak infield grounder. The next inning, though, Beltran singled and scored on another long home run by Brian McCann that swelled the lead. Greg Bird followed with a double, but Syndergaard got two more Ks before departing after the sixth.
The Yankees are 18-8 in games started by opposing rookie pitchers this season. In those 26 starts, rookie hurlers are 7-12 with a 5.17 ERA in 139 1/3 innings. Yankees batters have hit .273 with 21 home runs against the freshmen.
As good as Pineda was, he did not get through the sixth as manager Joe Girardi went to his bullpen early and employed six relievers to nail this one down, including Dellin Betances for all three outs in the eighth (two strikeouts) and Andrew Miller for the final out of the game after the Mets had scratched out a couple of two-out, infield singles in the ninth. The relievers teamed for 3 2/3 shutout innings in which they allowed two hits, both singles, and no walks with eight strikeouts, at one point striking out seven Mets batters in a row.
In all, 20 players were used in the game by Girardi. That is how seriously he is taking each game down the stretch.