Results tagged ‘ David Wright ’

Yankees win big after Harvey departs

How is that innings limit on Matt Harvey looking now? To the Yankees, it looked great Sunday night.

No sooner had Harvey been told his night was over after the fifth inning despite working on a one-hit shutout than the Yankees got on the board finally and swayed the momentum of the game. An 11-2 pasting won the Subway Series, four games to two, for the Yankees and moved them to 2 1/2 games behind the first-place Blue Jays in the American League East on the way to Toronto for a three-game showdown at Rogers Centre.

The Mets had to wonder what kind of karma was going on after Harvey was pulled after throwing 77 pitches, most of them quality, as he allowed one hit, an infield single, and one walk with seven strikeouts.

But in an attempt to limit Harvey’s innings in his return season from Tommy John surgery, the righthander was taken out of a close game and watched blurringly as the Yankees put up a five-spot in the sixth against Hansel Robles.

With Harvey out of the game, the Mets did nothing right that inning nor the rest of the game, for that matter. Two errors in the infield — an errant throw by second baseman Daniel Murphy and a dropped ball at third base by David Wright — fueled the inning highlighted by two extra-base hits — a two-run double by Carlos Beltran and a three-run home run by Dustin Ackley, who has had some big hits for the Yankees this month. Beltran, who entering the Subway Series had never had a game-winning RBI against the Mets, got two in the past two days.

In a matter of minutes, Harvey’s 1-0 gem was turned into a 5-1 Yankees lead for a run-starved and energized CC Sabathia. He gave up a quick run in the first on doubles by Ruben Tejada and Wright but after walking the bases full left the runners stranded by getting Michael Cuddyer on a foul pop. That was the first of nine straight outs as the lefthander hit his stride and kept the Yankees close until they could figure out a way to solve Harvey or hope the Mets would lift him sooner than later.

Sooner it came, and the Mets paid for it later. It turned out to be dark night for the Mets without the “Dark Knight.”

Sabathia was a winner for the first time in 10 starts since July 8 in his third straight strong start since coming off the disabled list. He has come through in his promise to be a factor down the stretch in the division race. Sabathia has allowed only two earned runs in 17 1/3 innings (1.04 ERA) in those three starts.

The night just got better for the Yankees, who added another run in the seventh on a bases-loaded walk and poured on five more in the eighth climaxed by a three-run home run by Greg Bird. And all those late runs meant Justin Wilson, Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller could stay seated in the bullpen and be well rested for the series in Toronto.

The Yankees’ 82nd victory guaranteed them a winning season for the 23rd consecutive year, the second longest above-.500 streak in major league history only to the franchise’s record stretch of 39 straight winning seasons from 1926 through 1964.

Yanks keep Mets silent in their house

What a difference a venue makes. Well, that and pitching. The Yankees and the Mets combined to score 35 runs in the first two games of the Subway Series at Yankee Stadium but totaled only five runs in the next two games at Citi Field. After watching the Mets score 21 runs in the Bronx, the Yankees held them scoreless over the full 18 innings in Queens.

The Yanks won both games started by a pair of rookies, although Wednesday night’s winner, Masahiro Tanaka, is a first-year player only in terms of the major leagues. He pitched a gem for his first big-league complete game shutout to stop the Yankees’ four-game losing streak and six-game slide to the Mets over two seasons. That was followed by the major-league debut of Triple A call-up Chase Whitley, who also pitched scoreless ball for 4 2/3 innings and picked up his first major-league hit as well. He did not figure in the decision on his personal record but was a major part of the 1-0 victory.

The winning decision went to Dellin Betances, who put on one helluva show. After getting the final out of the fifth inning to bail out Whitley, Betances faced six more batters over the next two innings and struck out all of them. David Robertson was called on later to get a four-out save. He did not disappoint in retiring the four batters he faced, two on strikeouts.

The Mets also had a starting pitcher make his big-league debut in righthander Jacob deGrom, who earned a spot in the rotation with seven innings of one-run, four-hit, two-walk, six-strikeout pitching. He, too, also got his first hit and the first by any Mets pitcher this year in 65 at-bats. The only run might have been avoided except for a curse that comes with the in-vogue strategy of today’s game, the infield over-shift.

Brian McCann appeared to have grounded into a double play in the seventh inning when he hit a grounder to the right side with one out and one on. With the Mets over-shifting, third baseman David Wright had to make the pivot to first base from second. Not used to making that throw, Wright made a side-armed toss to first that had little muscle and went into the dirt as well. First baseman Lucas Duda could not make the scoop, and McCann was safe at first base. In defense of Duda and Wright, they teamed on a tremendous double play that ended Monday night’s game at the Stadium. They did not strike lightning twice.

That kept the inning alive for Alfonso Soriano, who got the hardest hit ball off deGrom, a double to left-center that sent the heavy-legged McCann huffing and puffing around the bases for a run that proved very precious.

Granderson hurts Yankees again

The Mets picked up from where they left off the previous game and put some more hurt on the battered Yankees in the first inning Tuesday night in Round 2 of the Subway Series.

Mark Teixeira, who is dealing with a tender groin, was back in the lineup as the designated hitter, but Ichiro Suzuki was still unable to take batting practice because of knee and back issues. Needing help in the outfield, the Yankees recalled Zoilo Almonte from Triple A Scranton and placed relief pitcher Shawn Kelley (back stiffness) on the 15-day disabled list. The Yankees are expected to bring up another pitcher to start Thursday night’s game at Citi Field.

Tuesday night’s starter, Vidal Nuno, had a rough time of it as he was touched for four runs in the first inning. The lefthander was wild from the start with a hit batter and walk preceding a single by David Wright for his 900th career run batted in.

Old friend Curtis Granderson wasn’t the least bit friendly to his former teammates as he drove a 1-1 pitch to right field for his fifth home run, a three-run shot, and second in two nights at Yankee Stadium. Man, he must really miss this place.

The Yankees did bounce back in the bottom of the first to put up three runs off Mets starter Zack Wheeler, who also began shakily by allowing a single to Brett Gardner and walking Derek Jeter. The rally seemed over when Jacoby Ellsbury grounded into a double play, but Teixeira singled to right for one run and Brian McCann homered off a 3-2 pitch for two more.

Nuno could not make it through the fourth inning. Wright, who had a big night and extending his hitting streak to 11 games, doubled in the third and scored on a sacrifice fly by Juan Lagares. A throwing error by third baseman Yangervis Solarte on a potential double-play pivot opened the gate for another Mets run in the fourth on a sac fly by Daniel Murphy.

Murphy was even more damaging against righthander Alfredo Aceves an inning later when he smashed a towering three-run home run off the right field foul pole and not far from the top of it. If not obstructed, the ball would have landed in the upper deck, a place where precious few home runs have landed in the six-year-old structure. Who says Daniel Murphy has no power?

Injuries beginning to mount for Yankees

When losing a game to the Mets is not the worst thing that happened to the Yankees you know they are in trouble. The Mets extended their winning streak over the Yankees to five games with a 9-7 victory Monday night in one of those see-saw games that often favors the club that has last licks.

It did not work that way for the Yankees, although they did put the potential tying runs on base against Kyle Farnsworth before Brian McCann hit a smoking grounder to first base that resulted in a game-ending, 3-5-3 double play. That’s right 5. Third baseman David Wright was covering second base with an over-shift alignment on McCann.

The Yankees blew leads of 4-1 and 7-4 to the Mets, who stroked four home runs, including a two-run shot by Curtis Granderson in his return to Yankee Stadium. Travis d’Arnaud, Eric Young Jr. and Chris Young also went deep for the Mets to trump an early grand slam by Yankees left fielder Brett Gardner. Chris Young followed a broken-bat RBI single by Lucas Duda with a two-run blast to left in the eighth inning that turned the game in the Mets’ direction.

Now the really bad stuff:

Carlos Beltran had to be pinch-hit for in the seventh inning of a one-run game because he hyper-extended his right elbow between innings in the batting cage where most designated hitters spend their time preparing for future at-bats.

Ichiro Suzuki did not take batting practice perhaps for the first time in his career and was unavailable for pinch hitting or running duties due to a jammed right knee and a sore back the result of his attempt fora diving catch Sunday at Milwaukee.

Relief pitcher Shawn Kelley also has back issues and was unavailable out of the bullpen on a night when the relief corps needed major aid.

Mark Teixeira did not start at first base because of weary legs and a tender groin. He was able to pinch hit in the ninth but when he drove a liner into the corner had to settle for a single. Manager Joe Girardi said Tex likely would have made second base had his legs been normal, and that would have taken the double play out of the equation that inning.

CC Sabathia, who was placed on the 15-day disabled list because of fluid buildup in his right knee, was headed south to visit Dr. James Andrews, the noted orthopedist, for a second opinion on his condition.

Had enough? Girardi has and is trying hard not to think 2014 will be a continuation of 2013 when a franchise-record 56 players were needed to navigate through a injury-riddled season. Already this year the Yankees have used 36 players, including 19 pitchers (20 if you count infielder Dean Anna, who tossed an inning).

Kelly Johnson and Yangervis Solarte, who began the season in a platoon at third base, triggered a three-run rally in the sixth inning that unlocked a 4-4 score. Yankees starter Hiroki Kuroda coughed up a 4-1 lead on a solo home run in the fifth by d’Arnaud and a two-run shot in the sixth by Granderson, who just needed a shot of the Stadium to get back on track.

It was Granderson’s 65th career home run in 910 at-bats at the Stadium, an average of one every 14 at-bats. Grandy hit 63 homers at the Stadium in his four seasons with the Yankees, which accounted for 54.8 percent of his dinger output during his time here. I would have thought that percentage would be higher, but Curtis showed he could hit the long ball elsewhere than the Bronx, which should be encouraging to him.

After a messy second inning in which he gave up the salami to Gardner, Bartolo Colon settled down and pitched three scoreless innings as his team clawed back into the game. It all came apart for Colon in the sixth.

Solarte followed a one-out double by Alfonso Soriano with a single to break the tie. Johnson, playing first base for Teixeira, was credited with a triple on a drive to left-center hat was poorly played by Eric Young Jr. to score Solarte.

Johnson displayed questionable judgment in trying to score on Brian Roberts’ grounder to the left side against a drawn-in infield and was thrown out in a rundown. Gardner sent Colon packing with a dart of a single to right field that put Roberts on third. On a steal attempt by Gardner, d’Arnaud threw the ball into center field which allowed Roberts to score.

Kuroda came out of the game at the start of the seventh. Alfredo Aceves, a candidate to start Thursday night, came in on his throw day but was not sharp. He walked d’Arnaud to start the inning and one out later gave up Eric Young Jr.’s first home run of the season that got the Mets back to a run.

Daniel Murphy singled after Young’s homer. Aceves got a big out by catching Wright looking at a slider for a called third strike. With Granderson at bat and a 2-2 count, Murphy tried to steal second and was thrown out by McCann. Granderson is strikeout prone, but it did not make much sense to me to run Murphy there. It was a nice break for the Yankees on a night when not much else went their way.

Butler’s homer a stinging reminder to Cano

It would figure that the day the competitors in the All-Star Home Run Derby were announced that the Royals would be in town to remind everyone of the situation last year in which Kansas City’s Billy Butler was not picked for the American League squad by captain Robinson Cano, who was the target of boos from the crowds at Kauffman Stadium both nights.

As if to punctuate the situation, Butler clubbed a home run in his first at-bat off the Yankees’ Phil Hughes in the second inning when the Royals took a 2-0 lead in a game interrupted by thunderstorms.

Say this for Butler. He took the high road and in every interview during All-Star week last year asked Royals fans to lay off Cano. The Yankees second baseman was tabbed for the assignment again this year but did not have the same problem for next week’s game at Citi Field because the Mets will be represented in the Home Run Derby. In fact, third baseman David Wright is captain of the National League team.

Joining Cano will be first baseman Chris Davis of the Orioles and Prince Fielder of the Tigers. There is one more spot open as Cano is waiting to hear back from his final choice. Davis leads the AL in homers with 33. Fielder is a two-time winner of the event, last year and in 2009 at St. Louis’ Busch Stadium. Cano won the competition in 2011 at Chase Field in Phoenix.

Wright’s picks as teammates are outfielders Bryce Harper of the Nationals and Carlos Gonzalez and Michael Cuddyer, both of the Rockies. There are no former winners in the group. Wright came the closest as the runner-up to Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard in 2006 at PNC Park in Pittsburgh.

The Yankees wasted no time in getting new first baseman Travis Ishikawa, plucked off waivers from the Orioles, into the mix. He was in the lineup batting sixth as he became the 43rd player used this season by the Yankees, who employed 45 all of last season. To make space on the 25-man roster for Ishikawa, the Yankees optioned infielder David Adams to Triple A Scranton.

Cano to captain AL Home Run Derby squad again

Robinson Cano probably won’t run into the same problem next month that he had a year ago in Kansas City when he was the captain of the American League team in the Home Run Derby the night before the All-Star Game. You may remember all the booing Cano endured throughout the competition when he was shut out trying to reach the fences.

But that was not why Cano was the object of scorn for fans at Kauffman Stadium. The Yankees second baseman was targeted because he did not include the Royals’ Billy Butler on the squad. Cano’s selections in addition to himself were Blue Jays right fielder Jose Bautista, Tigers first baseman Prince Fielder and Angels outfielder Mark Trumbo. It was a pretty strong group, but the KC faithful were unforgiving to the point that Cano was still booed last month when the Yankees played at Kauffman Stadium.

“You play for the Yankees, everywhere you go you get booed,” he said.

A similar situation should be avoided this year. Once again, Cano has been named AL captain for the Home Run Derby that will take place July 15, the night before the All-Star Game at Citi Field. The venue this time, however, should keep Cano from getting hammered by fans except, of course, for the usual Bronx cheers reserved for Yankees players from Mets fans. Those who cheer for the Mets cannot get on Cano for his choices, however, because their favorites are in the other league.

The choice of Mets third baseman David Wright as the National League captain takes care of the possibility that the host team will be snubbed at the Home Run Derby. This was a good call by the powers that be in Major League Baseball. Wright is among the most popular players in Mets history and one of the truly good guys in the game. Whatever he decides will win approval from the Mets faithful.

Each captain has the task of selecting three other hitters from his league to compete in the Home Run Derby. Though the event is an individual competition, the leagues are pitted against each other in teams of four. Cano did not clear the fences himself last year, but his AL team clobbered the NL overall, 61-21. The individual winner was Fielder, once of Cano’s picks. Cano won the competition in 2011 at Chase Field in Phoenix. Cano entered play Tuesday night with 15 home runs, tied for fifth in the AL. Wright had eight with only one coming at Citi Field May 27 against the Yankees off Phil Hughes.

Fans may once again participate in the Home Run Derby Fan Poll. You will have the opportunity to select three players in each league. All-Star voting is also still underway. Cano is currently the leader among AL second basemen. Wright ranks second at third base behind the Giants’ Pablo Sandoval. Fans may submit 25 online ballots during the voting period and can earn a one-time bonus of 10 additional online ballots.

To access additional online ballots, you must be logged into your MLB.com account when you submit any online ballot. If you do not have an MLB.com account, visit http://www.mlb.com and register in accordance with the enrollment instructions for a free MLB.com account.

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.

Gardner pulled off an ‘Endy Chavez play’

I remember the first time I walked out on the field at Citi Field the year it opened in 2009 and looked at the left field wall and thought what a mistake the Mets made. Instead of an eight-foot high fence such as the one at old Shea Stadium, the same area at Citi Field had a 16-foot wall that resembled the old San Diego Stadium, later known as Jack Murphy Stadium and Qualcomm Stadium.

Whatever name the San Diego yard had, it was a lousy idea to have such a wall around the outfield because it took away the possibility of an outfielder making a home run-robbing catch. I remember Dave Winfield making a fence-climbing grab in left field at Yankee Stadium during a playoff game in 1981 and telling me afterwards, “I couldn’t have done that in San Diego.”

In the same vein, one of the Mets’ greatest postseason moments at Shea could not have occurred at Citi Field in its first three seasons. Left fielder Endy Chavez’s leaping, glove-extending grab of a drive by Scott Rolen denied the Cardinals third baseman a two-run home run in the sixth inning of Game 7 of the 2006 National League Championship Series.

I covered that game for MLB.com and recall writing a story that rated Chavez’s play with those of other New York outfielders in postseason play, such as the World Series catches by the Dodgers’ Al Gionfriddo off the Yankees’ Joe DiMaggio in 1947, the Giants’ Willie Mays off the Indians’ Vic Wertz in 1954, the Dodgers’ Sandy Amoros off the Yankees’ Yogi Berra in 1955, the Yankees’ Mickey Mantle off the Dodgers’ Gil Hodges in 1956, the two beauties by the Mets’ Tommie Agee off the Orioles’ Elrod Hendricks and Paul Blair in 1969 and the Yankees’ Paul O’Neill’s hamstring-straining, game-ending rundown of a drive by the Braves’ Luis Polonia in 1996.

Although the Mets eventually lost the game and the series, Chavez’s catch has been defined as the greatest defensive play in Shea’s history, with only Ron Swoboda’s belly-flop snaring of a Brooks Robinson liner in Game 4 of the 1969 World Series qualifying as a rival, another play to which I referred in the 2006 NLCS story.

All of this came to mind Monday night when Yankees center fielder Brett Gardner took away a potential two-run home run by Daniel Murphy in the sixth inning that preserved at the time a 1-0 lead for the Bombers. Gardner was able to make such a smashing play because the Mets had the good sense to change the dimensions prior to the 2012 season.

Part of the reason for the change was that Mets right-handed hitters, particularly David Wright, the face of the franchise, were getting psyched out by the unfriendly distances. Wright and his pals would continually watch well-struck drives turn into 400-foot outs. But the best part may have been the erection of an eight-foot fence in front of the previous one. It created a party deck that has been a featured seating section and has allowed the outfielders to have a chance to act like Jesse James once in a while.

“Thank goodness it’s a part of the park where it’s a fence, not a wall,” Gardner said after the game. “The poles out there have got some pretty good pads in front of them, so I’m fine. It wouldn’t be as difficult if I was a little taller [5-foot-10]. You’ve just got to hope that you’re able to get a good clean jump. You want to get back there close to the fence as possible, but you don’t want to run into the fence or hit the fence on the way up. I was able to time it just right.”

It was a gem of a play, one that pitcher Phil Hughes called the best catch he ever saw from the mound. It certainly was reminiscent of the play Chavez made. Unfortunately for the Yankees, it was also similar to Chavez’s play in that the opposition came back to win the game.

Mets prevail in rare bullpen failure by Yankees

Wasn’t the pitchers’ duel in this series supposed to be Tuesday night? That is when the Yankees’ Hiroki Kuroda goes up against the Mets’ prized rookie, Matt Harvey. Subway Series fans got a pitchers’ duel in Monday night’s opener as an appetizer with the Yankees’ Phil Hughes and the Mets’ Jonathan Niese matching zeroes for five innings.

The spell was broken in the sixth by Brett Gardner, who helped the Yankees take the lead and then kept them in front in the bottom half of the inning. Gardner led off the sixth against Niese with a slicing drive down the left field line where Lucas Duda attempted a diving catch but could not get there in time. As the ball rolled behind him, Gardner put on the jets and ended up with a triple.

Jayson Nix, playing the shortstop position that Derek Jeter had previously manned in all previous Subway Series, delivered Gardner to the plate with his second hit of the game, a single to center. Niese recovered nicely by getting Robinson Cano to ground into a double play.

Gardner got into the act again in the bottom of the sixth. With Niese, who had two of the four hits off Hughes, on first base and two out, Daniel Murphy hit a drive to deep left-center where Gardner made a leaping catch to rob the second baseman of a home run that would have given the Mets the lead. Gardner’s glove was above the orange line atop the fence that signals a home run when he gloved Murphy’s clout.

Hughes’ good fortune ended at the top of the seventh, however, when David Wright, who had tripled with two out in the first inning but was stranded, drove a 2-2 fastball to left-center for his seventh home run that tied the score. Gardner would have needed a crane to stop that one.

Hughes and Niese both came out of the game after the seventh inning and had similar pitching lines in terrific efforts that did not warrant no-decisions. Hughes allowed one run and four hits with no walks and six strikeouts. Niese gave up one run, eight hits and one walk with four K’s. Kuroda and Harvey would love to post such lines Tuesday night.

This game ended up in the bullpen, which is usually to the Yankees’ advantage, but the Mets’ 2-1 victory was at the expense of David Robertson, who had a shaky eighth inning, as the Yankees lost for the first time this season in 23 games in which they had the lead after the sixth. D-Rob gave up a one-out double to Mike Baxter and compounded the situation by walking pinch hitter Jordany Valdespin.

A passed ball by Chris Stewart advanced the runners to second and third. The Yankees got the second out when Baxter tried to score on a contact play and was thrown out by Robinson Cano on a close call at the plate. Murphy, hoping to get another important at-bat after losing a homer to Gardner, knocked in the deciding run with a line single to center.

As he broke from the box, Murphy tossed his bat in a sort of tomahawk fashion. The Mets have had issues this year with players flipping bats, notably Valdespin, who has irritated some clubs.

Yankees manager Joe Girardi defused the situation by saying, “I don’t have an issue with it. It’s an emotional game. I would only have a problem with it if a player is trying to show up a team.”

Home runs + quality pitching = success

Yankees manager Joe Girardi has finally admitted publicly what we all pretty much new. The Yankees need to hit the ball out of the ballpark to win games. All there struggles hitting with runners in scoring position point to that. Despite batting .217 in clutch situations, the Yankees are in first place in the American League East largely because of two elements – quality pitching and power hitting, both of which were on display Saturday night.

The Yanks guaranteed their winning of this year’s the Subway Series with a stirring, come-from-behind, 4-3 victory over the Mets at Citi Field. It was all Mets for six innings until the Yankees began hitting the ball over the fence. They have taken four of five games from the Mets this year, which turns Sunday night’s series finale into merely a marquee match-up between CC Sabathia and R.A. Dickey.

Raul Ibanez’s three-run home run in the seventh inning off Chris Young was the Yankees’ only hit in eight at-bats with runners in scoring position in this series, but it was a big one. It tied the score after the Yankees had looked pretty lifeless for six innings. One out later, Eric Chavez got a pinch-hit homer, the first of his career, to put the Yankees ahead.

The Yanks’ bullpen handled the rest. Spelling Ivan Nova over the final 3 1/3 innings, winning pitcher Clay Rapada (2-0), Cody Eppley, Boone Logan, David Robertson and Rafael Soriano (14th save) combined to hold the Mets to two hits and two walks with eight strikeouts. From the third out of the sixth through the second out of the ninth, all eight of those outs by the Mets were on strikeouts. In all, the Mets struck out 15 times in the game.

Rapada came on for Nova and ended the sixth with a strikeout of Kirk Nieuwenhuis, who had homered three innings earlier, after the Mets had gone up, 3-0. Logan inherited a one-out, runner on third situation in the seventh and struck out two left-handed hitters, Lucas Duda and Daniel Murphy. Robertson had a no-contact eighth with two walks and three strikeouts.

Soriano had two strikeouts sandwiched around a single by David Wright before Murphy excited the record Citi Field crowd of 42,122 with a fly ball to the warning track in right where it nestled in the glove of Nick Swisher. No leap at the wall this time.

“We’re a home run-hitting club,” Girardi had said Friday night when three Yankees home runs were not enough to avoid a 6-4 loss. “We are who we are. There are basketball clubs that are built around 3-point shooting and when they don’t make their 3’s they don’t win. If we hit two- and three-run homers, we usually win games.”

Plainer truth could not be spoken about the 2012 Yankees. They lead the majors in homers with 110 in 70 games, including 32 over their past 18 games. The Yankees are 41-15 when they hit at least one home run and 30-7 when they hit more than one. In games when they fail to go yard, the Yankees are 1-13. They have out-homered the Mets this year, 13-4.

But let us not forget pitching. The Yankees made sure that fans remember that aspect in helping to end a three-game losing streak and ensuring bragging rights over the Mets for another year.