Results tagged ‘ Subway Series ’

A-Rod has not earned starting nod

Alex Rodriguez has had a hard time getting in the Yankees’ starting lineup the past two weeks. Thursday night in Game 4 of the Subway Series seemed to be his best chance of cracking into the lineup because Bartolo Colon was the starting pitcher for the Mets.

To say A-Rod has owned “Big Sexy” in his career is a huge understatement. In 52 career at-bats against Colon, Rodriguez has batted .442 with seven doubles, one triple and eight home runs.

Yet when manager Joe Girardi posted his lineup, there was no Rodriguez in it. For the second straight night, the designated hitter role was filled by Gary Sanchez, the Yankees’ prized catching prospect who was recently recalled from Triple A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Sanchez got his first major-league hit, a single to center field in the seventh inning, as part of a 1-for-4 game Wednesday night in the Yankees’ 9-5 victory.

Sanchez had two more hits Thursday night in the 4-1 loss to the Mets that turned this year’s Subway Series into a push as each club won two games. Sanchez scored the Yankees’ run in the seventh. He doubled with one out off Colon and scored on a two-out single by Aaron Hicks off reliever Jerry Blevins. Sanchez beat out an infield single in the ninth off Mets closer Jeurys Familia (38th save) to bring the potential tying run to the plate before Rob Refsnyder grounded into a game-ending double play.

Otherwise, it was all Mets, due largely to Colon (10-6), the 43-year-old marvel who gave up one run, six hits and no walks with one strikeout in 6 1/3 innings. Yankees starter Nathan Eovaldi (9-8) had one bad inning in seven — the fifth — but it was a brutal one.

Kelly Johnson led off with a Yankee Stadium right field porch home run. One out later, Curtis Granderson doubled to left-center. Eovaldi then made a pivotal mistake on a check-swing grounder to the mound by Alejandro De Aza by throwing to second base in an attempt to cut down Granderson, but he slid back into the bag safely, costing the Yanks a possible sure out at first base.

After Neil Walker lined out, Jay Bruce, obtained earlier this week in a trade from the Reds, made his first contribution to the Mets with a three-run home run to right-center. Bruce had been 0-for-10 with four strikeouts since joining the Mets before that homer, his 26th, that raised his National League leading RBI total to 83.

Girardi acknowledged that Rodriguez’s statistics against Colon were “tremendous,” but also pointed out “most of those numbers came many, many years ago.”

Indeed, A-Rod ran up those stats against Colon in the previous decade while he was winning three American League Most Valuable Player Awards against a pitcher who copped an AL Cy Young Award, in 2005 with the Angels. Girardi added that when Rodriguez last faced Colon, in 2012, he was 1-for-6.

As frustrated as Rodriguez may be, at 41 he has not shown much at the plate to warrant his playing regularly. A-Rod started the first five games after the All-Star break and batted .188 with one home run and one RBI in 16 at-bats. He has started once in the past 12 games and struck out four times in that game. Rodriguez has one hit, a single, in his past 19 at-bats as his season batting average has shrunk to .204 with nine homers and 29 RBI in 216 at-bats. He has been stuck at 696 career home runs since July 18.

In defending his decision not to start Rodriguez against Colon, Girardi said most of his problems have come against right-handed pitching. True enough, A-Rod is hitting .196 against righties this year. Wednesday night, he also sat against a left-handed starter, Steven Matz, but Rodriguez has not exactly lit it up against lefties, either (.219).

Girardi denied that he was being told by the front office not to play Rodriguez, who is under contract through the 2017 season. And despite reports suggesting that the Yankees have discussed releasing Rodriguez and eating the $27 million due him over the remainder of his contract, general manager Brian Cashman told ESPN Radio there have been no such talks.

“First and foremost, you just have to flat-out admit, it is not easy to eat — meaning release — that kind of money,” Cashman said. “It’s not something you come to a quick decision on. You see players — and I don’t want to name them because they are still playing — but there are players around the game who are on big contracts that have been well-below-average players now for many years, not just a year. Alex hit 33 home runs last year. This is a bigger media market and more attention, and there is certainly a tempest about what should be done. All I can tell you is, slow down a little bit and here is the counterarguments: There is a very large financial commitment through next year on a player of Alex’s caliber that was productive as early as last year.”

The financial considerations are for the front office to worry about. That is not the manager’s concern. He has to put the players in the lineup that give his team the best chance to win. It has been some time since Rodriguez fit into that equation.

I remember years ago talking to a manager who had an aging superstar on his team. The manager said, “The best piece of advice I got from a managing mentor of mine was not to argue with your general manager over the 25th player on the roster and try not to let a star fall on you.”

It is one of the most difficult assignments for any manager, to find a way for a player well past his prime to maintain his dignity while dealing with severely diminished skills.

Also missing from the lineup was Mark Teixeira, who had a big game Wednesday night (three-run home run, two walks, hit by a pitch). The HBP by Matz left Tex with a bruised left shin.

Earning a return to the rotation was Luis Severino, who got his first victory of the season for not allowing an earned run in 4 1/3 innings in relief of Chad Green, who was optioned to SWB. Severino will start next Tuesday night at Boston.

Teixeira bugs Mets in more ways than one

Chad Green’s audition for the rotation spot that used to belong to Ivan Nova before he was traded to the Pirates did not go that well Wednesday night in Game 3 of the Subway Series, a 9-5 Yankees victory. Fortunately for Green, his teammates picked him up by battering Mets starter Steven Matz, who lost for the seventh time in his past eight decisions.

Green was lucky just to get through the first inning. He gave up a home run leading off the game to Curtis Granderson, the former Yankees outfielder who has made a career of hitting the long ball at Yankee Stadium, and let in another run on a walk and three singles. The Mets had two runs in and the bases loaded before Green got his first out, a strikeout looking on Michael Conforto. A double-play grounder by Wilmer Flores gave Green some needed relief.

The Yankees responded with three runs in the bottom of the first on a two-run double by Chase Headley and an RBI double by Didi Gregorius. Green let the Mets tie the score in the second on a double by Kelly Johnson and a single by Rene Rivera.

In the bottom half, the Yankees struck with two out on singles by Jacoby Ellsbury and Rob Refsnyder and a three-run homer by Mark Teixeira. The next time Tex batted, in the fifth, he was struck below the left knee by a pitch from Matz and was not happy about it. Teixeira shouted at the pitcher as he went to first base while the dugouts emptied but no punches were thrown.

“Steven’s a good kid, and I like him,” Teixeira said later. “But if you hit a home run and the next pitch you see doesn’t come close to the plate and hits you it looks bad. I told him I didn’t appreciate it.”

Green was gone from the game by that point. His pitch count got up to 86 with two out and two on in the fourth when manager Joe Girardi brought in Luis Severino to face Yoenis Cespedes, who struck out.

Severino kept himself in position to get his first winning decision after six losses, even in the seventh when the Mets loaded the bases with none out on a walk to Granderson, a bunt single by Neil Walker and an error by third baseman Chase Headley on a hot grounder by Cespedes. Severino got a huge strikeout of RBI leader Jay Bruce before giving up an unearned run on an infield out and then struck out Conforto.

For Granderson, the game-leading home run was his seventh of the season and 42nd of his career, including a franchise-record 18 for the Mets, breaking the tie he had with Jose Reyes, who rejoined the Mets last month and is on the 15-day disabled list. Granderson has hit 68 career home runs at Yankee Stadium. Pitching him carefully after that, the Yankees walked Granderson three times.

Teixeira, who reached base in all four of his plate appearances, found himself in a weird situation in the seventh when while on second base he kept being stared down by Hansel Robles, the reliever who stepped off the rubber several times amid the taunts from the sellout Stadium crowd of 48,339.

“I guess he thought I had their signs, but I didn’t,” Tex said. “He started yelling at me, so I yelled back, ‘If you think I have the signs, you should change them.’ ”

The Yankees caught another break in the ninth when Cespedes tweaked his troublesome right quad that has bothered him for a month in striking out and was placed on the 15-day DL. The Mets had planned to keep him off the field as a DH in this series and in the weekend, inter-league set at Detroit.

Star Wars Night highlights current homestand

Wednesday night’s Game 3 of the 2016 Subway Series began a five-game homestand during which the Yankees will have their first Yankee Stadium Star Wars Night Friday when the Indians with former Yankees relief pitcher Andrew Miller follow the Mets into the Bronx.

As part of the festivities, an assortment of Star Wars characters will be present at various locations throughout the Stadium to interact with fans from approximately 5 p.m. until 6:30 p.m. and again for about 45 minutes after the first pitch. In addition, the first 18,000 people in attendance will receive a R2-D2 Yankees Knit Cap.

Didi Gregorius Bobblehead Day will take place Sunday. The first 18,000 people in attendance will receive a bobblehead. The Gregorius bobblehead is part of the limited-edition collectible player bobbleheads, presented by AT&T. The set of four — Mickey Mantle Triple Crown June 24, Gregorius Aug. 7, Dellin Betances Sept. 10 and Roger Maris Oct. 1 — is the fourth series in a collection of Yankees bobbleheads.

The Hard Rock Cafe presents Little Steven’s Underground Garage Concert Series, powered by JBL, will continue in the Pepsi Food Court on the third-base side of the Field Level Friday with The Grip Weeds. The performance is scheduled to take place from 5:30-6:15 p.m. Admission to the pregame concert is included with a valid game ticket for that date. Future acts are scheduled to perform throughout the summer. More information on the series can be found at http://www.yankees.com/bands.

Ticket specials will run Saturday and Sunday (both Youth Games). For a complete list of ticket specials, including game dates, seating locations, and terms and conditions, fans should visit http://www.yankees.com/ticketspecials. Please note that all ticket specials are subject to availability.

Tickets may be purchased online at http://www.yankees.com, http://www.yankeesbeisbol.com, at the Yankee Stadium Ticket Office, via Ticketmaster phone at 877-469-9849, Ticketmaster TTY at 800-943-4327 and at all Ticket Offices located within Yankees Clubhouse Shops. Fans with questions may call 212-YANKEES [926-5337] or email tickets@yankees.com.

For information on parking and public transportation options to Yankee Stadium, please visit http://www.yankees.com and click on the Yankee Stadium tab at the top of the page.

Subway Series keeps Yankees in focus

Yankees manager Joe Girardi had hoped that despite losing four prominent players in trades over the past week his team would be energized playing against the Mets at Citi Field. The usual buzz that comes with playing in the Subway Series was just what the skipper felt the Yankees needed as they moved through what for them were the unchartered waters of being sellers at Monday’s non-waiver trade deadline.

There might have been too much energy displayed in the case of leadoff hitter Brett Gardner. He opened the game with a drive off the wall in right-center that rolled back towards the infield. Rather than settle for a triple, Gardy tried for an inside-the-park home run but was thrown out at the plate.

It may have been over-aggression on Gardner’s part, but he can be forgiven for trying to give an early jolt to a club that no longer has Carlos Beltran in the lineup, Aroldis Chapman or Andrew Miller in the bullpen or Ivan Nova in the rotation. And except for Adam Warren, the players the Yankees got in return from those trades are all in the minor leagues.

The energy turned to the Mets’ side in the middle of the game, but the Yankees got some late mojo to tie the score in the eighth and win it in the 10th. That took CC Sabathia off the hook. The lefthander squandered a 3-1 lead and put the Yanks in a 5-3 hole in the sixth when he gave up a three-run home run to recent Triple A call-up Matt Reynolds, now playing shortstop for injured Asdrubal Cabrera.

Mets relievers took control in the middle innings, but the Yankees showed plenty of life in the eighth. Gardner walked leading off the inning but was still standing on first base after Jacoby Ellsbury and Mark Teixeira struck out. Brian McCann singled Gardner to third off Addison Reed, who got into a duel with Didi Gregorius. Along the way, Reed made a huge mistake with a wild pitch that allowed pinch runner Ronald Torreyes to take second base.

Gregorius fouled off three two-strike pitches before lofting a single to left field on the eighth pitch of the at-bat that sent Gardner and Torreyes scampering home. If Miller were still around, he would have come in to face the Mets in the eighth. Warren handled that instead and retired the side in order. He worked a scoreless ninth as well as the game went into extras.

Triple A call-up Ben Gamel contributed to the game-winning rally with a sacrifice bunt. Mets reliever Seth Lugo took a chance at trying for Ellsbury at third base, a risk that failed as the Yanks loaded the bases with none out. Another chance to be a hero did not work out this time for Gregorius, who struck out, but Starlin Castro got the run home with a sacrifice fly.

Dellin Betances’ new role as closer proved challenging when James Loney led off the bottom of the 10th with a double to right-center. He was bunted to third. Betances got into more trouble when he hit Alejandro DeAza with a pitch. DeAza took second on a slow roller by Rene Rivera that turned into an out at first base. Betances truly earned his first save of the year by striking out Curtis Granderson.

Yankees obtain 3 more prospects for Beltran

On the day of the first Subway Series game in 2016, the best position player of those who spent time with both the Yankees and the Mets was on his way out of New York again. Carlos Beltran, the Yankees’ most productive hitter this season, followed the path of relief pitchers Aroldis Chapman and Andrew Miller and was traded for three prospects.

Beltran was a major trade chip for the Yankees, particularly to American League clubs that could use him at designated hitter as well as in the outfield. The Rangers have been in need of added punch at the plate since Prince Fielder was lost for the remainder of the season due to a neck injury that required surgery.

Beltran will certainly provide that for Texas. At the age of 39 and despite nagging leg issues, Beltran hit .304 in 359 at-bats for the Yankees and led the team in hits (109), home runs (22) and runs batted in (64) and was tied for the club lead in doubles (21). He was an All-Star for the ninth time in his career and the first time as an American Leaguer.

Earlier this season, he reached 20 homers for the 12th time in his career (1999, 2001-04, ’06-08, ’11-13 and ’16), tied with former teammate Mark Teixeira for the fourth-most 20-homer seasons all time among switch-hitters. Eddie Murray had 16 such seasons, and Mickey Mantle and Chipper Jones 14 apiece. Beltran also became the second switch-hitter in major league history with a 20-homer season at age 39-or-older, joining Murray (21 homers at 39 in 1995 and 22HR at 40 in ’96).

Beltran was a five-time National League All-Star during his seven-plus seasons with the Mets. Only Darryl Strawberry rivals him as a major position player on both New York teams. The best pitcher who was on both clubs was David Cone, with Dwight Gooden a close second.

Of the four players the Yankees received in return for Beltran, the most promising is pitcher Dillon Tate, a righthander who was the Rangers’ selection in the first round (and the fourth overall pick) in the 2015 First Year Player Draft. The Yankees also got two other right-handed pitchers, Erik Swanson and Nick Green.

Tate, 22, was 3-3 with a 5.12 ERA (65.0IP, 37ER) in 17 games (16 starts) and 65 innings with Class A Hickory this year. He made his professional debut in 2015, posting a 1.00 ERA over six starts and nine innings with Hickory and short-season Class A Spokane. Entering the 2015 draft, Tate was tabbed by Baseball America as the top pitcher and third-best prospect overall. Following the 2015 season, the Claremont, Calif., native was ranked by the publication as baseball’s 69th-best prospect.

During his collegiate career at the University of California-Santa Barbara, Tate was named a 2015 Louisville Slugger All-America and UCSB’s first-ever Golden Spikes Award semifinalist after going 8-5 with a 2.26 ERA and 111 strikeouts in 14 starts and 103 1/3 innings as a junior. In 2014, he earned a spot on USA Baseball’s Collegiate National Team, recording three saves while posting a 0.79 ERA in 11 appearances. The highest selection ever out of UCSB, Tate is a product of Major League Baseball’s Urban Youth Academy in Compton, Calif., where he played in tournaments across the United States and Japan as a teenager.

Swanson, 22, was 6-4 with one save and a 3.43 ERA (81.1IP, 31ER) in 19 games (15 starts) and 81 1/3 innings with Hickory in 2016 and was a South Atlantic League mid-season All-Star. The Terrace Park, Ohio, native was originally selected by the Rangers in the eighth round of the 2014 First-Year Player Draft. Over three minor league seasons, he has combined to go 8-6 with two saves and a 3.52 ERA in 44 games (15 starts) and 120 innings.

Green, 21, was 2-2 with a 4.98 ERA in seven starts totaling 34 1/3 innings with Spokane in 2016. Originally selected by Texas in the seventh round of the 2014 First-Year Player Draft out of Indian Hills Community College in Iowa, Green has posted a 6-8 record and 5.15 ERA in 31 career appearances (21 starts) and 108 1/3 innings over three minor league seasons. The Fountain, Colo., native was previously drafted by the Yankees in the 35th round of the 2013 First-Year Player Draft but did not sign.

In another transaction designed towards the future, the Yanks traded pitcher Ivan Nova to the Pirates for two players to be named. The Yankees added relief pitcher Tyler Clippard, who they acquired from the Diamondbacks Sunday, to the 25-man roster and recalled pitcher Nick Goody and outfielder Ben Gamel from Triple A Scranton/Wilkes Barre.

Yankees manager Joe Girardi did not say who would replace Nova in the rotation. The candidates are Luis Severino and Chad Green. The manager was also unclear how he would replace Beltran.

“We lost the most important hitter in our lineup,” Girardi said. “This is a chance for young players to step up. I believe we can still win with the players in that room.”

Yanks closing in on Jays, but Tanaka is hurt

Sunday night’s Subway Series finale became an even bigger game for the Yankees after the Blue Jays lost again to the Red Sox in the afternoon. That trimmed Toronto’s lead over the Yanks in the American League East to three games.

So with a victory Sunday night over the Mets and Matt Harvey the Yankees would get to 2 1/2 games behind the Blue Jays heading into a true showdown at Toronto, a three-game series that begins Monday night that gives the Bombers a chance at returning to the top of the division.

Yet just as things were looking up for the Yankees, they sustained a severe blow before Sunday night’s game with the news that Masahiro Tanaka will have to be scratched from his scheduled start Wednesday night at Rogers Centre because of a Grade 1 sprain of his right hamstring.

Inter-league play was the culprit. Tanaka sustained the injury while running out a ground ball in the second inning of Friday night’s loss to the Mets, although he batted again in the fifth and remained in the game through six innings. The designated hitter rule is not in effect in National League parks, so Tanaka had to bat in the game.

A similar situation occurred to the Yankees in 2008 when pitcher Chien-Ming Wang suffered a serious foot injury while running the bases in an inter-league game at Houston, then an NL city.

The pitching match-ups for the Yankees-Blue Jays series have been set: Adam Warren (6-6, 3.33 ERA) vs. David Price (16-5, 2.42 ERA) Monday night, Luis Severino (4-3, 3.12 ERA) vs. Marco Estrada (13-8, 3.14 ERA) Tuesday night and Ivan Nova (6-8, 5.11 ERA) in place of Tanaka (12-7, 3.38 ERA) vs. Marcus Stroman (2-0, 3.00 ERA) Wednesday night.

But first things first. The Yankees need to get past the Mets. CC Sabathia, who has pitched well in two starts since coming off the disabled list and wearing a strong brace on his arthritic right knee, must dig down deep for a pennant-race performance. Sabathia allowed only one earned run over 11 1/3 innings (0.79 ERA) in his past two starts, both no-decisions. The lefthander is winless in nine starts since July 8 but is 0-1 with a 2.76 ERA over his past six starts.

Starting pitching has been a strength for the Yankees at Citi Field. With Saturday’s shutout over the Mets, the Yankees have pitched shutouts in three of their last four games at Citi Field (also May 14 and 15, 2014). They were the first visiting team to throw back-to-back shutouts at Citi Field and the first to blank the Mets at their home field in consecutive games since the Braves July 2 and 3, 1999 at Shea Stadium.

Yankees starters have a 0.81 ERA in their past seven starts at Citi Field covering 44 2/3 innings dating to June 24, 2012 and gave up two runs or fewer in each of those games. Since Citi Field opened in 2009, Yankees starters have allowed one run or fewer in 11 of 18 starts and two runs or fewer in 15 of 18 starts. The rotation’s career ERA at Citi Field is 2.04 in 110 1/3 innings.

The Elias Sports Bureau reports that Carlos Beltran’s three-run home run Saturday marked his first career game-winning RBI against the Mets, in his 25th career game against his former team. He is the only active player who has game-winning RBI against all 30 major league clubs.

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.

Yanks go down fighting but definitely down

At least the Yankees went down fighting. Trailing by four runs in the top of the ninth inning, they loaded the bases with one out against Mets closer Jeurys Familia and had the sellout crowd of 43,602 at Citi Field pretty nervous. Familia recovered, however, and down the Yankees indeed did go.

The 5-1 loss smarted, and least of all because it came against the Mets. These Subway Series certainly draw the interest of the two New York teams’ fan bases, but as former Yankees manager Joe Torre used to point out at this juncture of the season they are not playing for the same prize, which is the downside of inter-league competition.

What hurt mostly is that the setback corresponded with the Blue Jays winning at home against the Red Sox so that the Yankees fell 4 1/2 games behind the Blue Jays in the American League East. Also, the Yanks were defeated with their ace on the mound, which could mean having Masahiro Tanaka make his next start Wednesday night at Toronto might be a waste of time. A lot can happen over the next four days that could convince manager Joe Girardi to give Tanaka extra rest so that he can be at his sharpest for the wild card game.

With 16 games remaining, it is far too early for the Yankees to concede the division title to Toronto and concentrate on making sure they are the home team in the wild card playoff. But the idea has to have crossed Girardi’s mind.

Tanaka started Friday night on regular rest so that he would be available to pitch in the Toronto series that follows the Subway Series. He pitched well, too, although he could not keep two balls in the yard that ruined his outing. Solo home runs by Lucas Duda off a high splitter in the second inning and Daniel Murphy on a wimpy slider in the sixth were the only real mistakes made all night by Tanaka, who has allowed 24 home runs in 149 innings.

The Yankees got a run in the first inning off Mets rookie Steven Matz on a sacrifice fly by Chris Young before the lefthander settled down and held the Yankees at bay through the sixth. That was Matz’s last inning and one that presented Girardi with a big decision.

With the score 1-1, the Yankees had runners on first and third and two out with 8-hole hitter Brendan Ryan due up and Tanaka in the on-deck circle. On the bench lurked Alex Rodriguez, rendered a bench warmer because the designated hitter is outlawed in the National League. That might have been the perfect time to let A-Rod try to break open the game as a pinch hitter, but Girardi did not think so.

The skipper’s thinking was that there was still an open base, even though it was second base, so Rodriguez could have been pitched around, perhaps even purposely walked and then Girardi would have to lift Tanaka for a pinch hitter. He liked the way his pitcher was throwing and did not want to chance that Rodriguez would be wasted in an at-bat in that circumstance. So he let Ryan hit or at least swing, which he did on the first pitch and grounded out to end the threat.

Murphy’s homer off Tanaka came in the bottom of that inning, and the Mets never looked back. Juan Uribe would have the big pinch-hit at-bat in the game for the Mets and drove an opposite-field, two-run home run to right off Chasen Shreve, who has been struggling of late (six earned runs in his past four innings).

Rodriguez did come up in the pinch, but it was when the Yanks were four runs behind in the ninth with a runner on second and one out. He, yep, walked, just as Girardi feared would happen earlier. A single by Jacoby Ellsbury off Familia’s shin filled the bases, but the Mets’ closer in a non-save situation retired Brett Gardner on a fly to left and struck out Chase Headley.

The NL East-leading Mets reduced their major number for clinching their first division title in nine years to eight, but this was a case of one New York team being hurt more by a loss than the other was fortified by a victory.

Ellsbury benched for Subway Series opener

When an opponent starts a left-handed pitcher, as the Mets are doing Friday night, Yankees manage Joe Girardi occasionally gives one of his left-handed hitting outfielders a night off. Not in Friday night’s Yankees lineup at Citi Field was Jacoby Ellsbury.

This should not come as a surprise considering the slump the center fielder has been in this month. Ellsbury is batting .123 with no extra-base hits or RBI in 57 September at-bats and has stolen merely one base. He has three hits in his past 38 at-bats, a .079 stretch that included a hitless string of 25 at-bats that he ended with two hits Wednesday night at St. Petersburg, Fla.

Ellsbury, who was sidelined for seven weeks in the first half of the season due to a right knee sprain, says he is healthy but he has not been the same hitter since he came off the disabled list. He was batting .324 with 14 stolen bases at the time of the injury but in 247 at-bats since his return July 8 Ellsbury has hit .211 with four steals as his season batting average has plummeted to .253.

As it was, this was not an easy decision for Girardi because Brett Gardner, who was the leadoff hitter Friday night and shifted from left field to center, entered the game hitless in his past 15 at-bats since his three-homer, seven-RBI performance in a doubleheader last Saturday against the Blue Jays at Yankee Stadium.

The Yankees are 9-8 in inter-league play this season and are on a four-game winning streak against the National League. They won two of three games in this year’s first Subway Series back in April at the Stadium, long before the Mets played their way into postseason contention.

Yankees batters have hit 23 home runs in 17 inter-league games and have scored at least 10 runs in three of their past four games. In inter-league play this season, the Yankees lead all clubs in on-base percentage (.364) and on-base plus slugging percentage (.843) and rank second in runs (108), batting (.290) and slugging (.480).

Yankees pitchers have a 4.89 ERA in 17 inter-league games and 152 2/3 innings after producing a 2.94 ERA in 183 2/3 innings last year, the third-lowest mark in the majors. Yankees starters have a 5.61 ERA in 94 2/3 innings this season and have allowed at least 5 earned runs in six of 17 starts.

Yankees pitchers are 1-for-18 (.056) in inter-league play this year. Branden Pinder ended a team 0-for-30 with an RBI double Aug. 30 at Atlanta, the first hit by a Yankees pitcher Chase Whitley May 14, 2014 at Citi Field, the first extra-base hit since Andy Pettitte’s double June 19, 2009 at Miami and the first RBI since CC Sabathia’s RBI groundout Aug. 2, 2013 at San Diego. Pinder was the second Yankees reliever in the designated hitter era (since 1973) to get a hit. The other was Mike Stanton June 6, 2000 at Montreal. Yankees pitchers have batted a combined .091 with nine doubles, 13 RBI and 45 sacrifice hits in 385 inter-league at-bats.

The Yankees are 3-4 in NL parks this season and are on a three-game winning streak. The Yankees lead the majors in all-time inter-league victories (201) and winning percentage (.593). They have posted a winning inter-league record in 15 of 18 seasons.

Yankees make NY pit stop on trip

A weird thing about this trip for the Yankees is that they get to sleep some nights in their own beds. They ended the Tampa Bay stop Wednesday night with a 3-1 victory and came home for their last off day of the regular season Thursday.

The flight was to New York was because their next stop on the three-series trip is in Queens to play the Mets at Citi Field in the second installment of the Subway Series. With both New York clubs in the hunt for postseason berths, an extra element of anticipation is in the air.

The Yankees remained three games behind the Blue Jays in the American League East with Toronto winning at Atlanta. The Jays come home this weekend and play the Red Sox before the Yanks enter Rogers Centre for a three-game set starting Monday night.

With an eye on the Toronto series, Yankees manager Joe Girardi set his rotation for the Mets series with Masahiro Tanaka getting the ball on regular rest for Friday night’s game. That will allow the righthander to make his following start next Wednesday night at Toronto, also on regular rest. Tanaka has allowed one earned run in 16 innings against the Blue Jays this year.

Tanaka will be opposed Friday night by Mets rookie Steven Matz. Saturday afternoon’s game pits Michael Pineda against the Mets’ Noah Syndegaard. CC Sabathia will start Sunday night’s finale against the Mets’ Matt Harvey, who will be held to a strict pitch limit.

Girardi did not announce the rest of the rotation for the Toronto series, but he did say that Ivan Nova would be in the bullpen for the Mets series, which means that it is likely Adam Warren will start Monday night and Luis Severino Tuesday night against the Blue Jays.

Severino was one of two rookies who were central figures in the Yanks’ victory Wednesday night, their second in a row against Chris Archer, who had won his previous five decisions against them. Severino pitched 5 2/3 innings and gave up one run, six hits and one walk with seven strikeouts in improving his record to 4-3 and bouncing back from his first rough outing in his prior start at Yankee Stadium against Toronto.

The other rookie pivotal in the victory was first baseman Greg Bird, who drove in the Yankees’ first run with a double in the second inning off Archer and an important insurance run in the ninth with a monstrous home run to right field off reliever Andrew Bellatti.

The run that proved to be the deciding one was driven in by Chase Headley, who fought off a tough slider from Archer for a flare single to left field in the sixth that increased the Yankees’ lead to 2-0.

Severino came out of the game in the bottom of the sixth after he was touched for a run on a double by Steven Souza. Justin Wilson got the last out of the inning with a strikeout and the first two outs of the seventh as well.

Dellin Betances then came in and did another high-wire act similar to his Sept. 7 appearance against the Orioles when he walked three batters and struck out three in the same inning. He walked the first three Tampa Bay batters he faced Wednesday night but came back to strike out James Loney, who had three hits, on three pitches.

As he had done in Monday night’s victory, Andrew Miller struck out the side in order for his 34th save.