by Michael Reistetter
The “Battle for New York,” took place from Sept 18. – Sept 20. The visiting New York Yankees of the American League strolled into Citi Field, home of The National League’s New York Mets.
The most important Subway Series since the Yankees defeated the Mets in the 2000 World Series, kicked off last Friday night. The NY Post declared the Mets as the heavy favorites entering the series, and the Mets responded by making a statement with a victory in Game 1.
The Mets beat the Bronx Bombers off the backs of a clutch performance by rookie Steven Matz, a Long Island native, who has impressively began his career by winning his first four major league starts.
Matz outdueled Yankees’ Ace Masahiro Tanaka. This season, Tanaka has silenced many doubters who believed he should have undergone Tommy John Surgery in the offseason, and has sang to the beat of a 12-7 record with a 3.38 ERA. Tanaka has guided the Yankees in their hunt to clinch their first postseason birth since 2012, the largest drought for the franchise since the early 1990s.
The first-place Mets are seeking to clinch their first division title and playoff appearance since 2006, which they are on pace to achieve fairly soon. Still, memories of the 2007 and 2008 late season “collapses” by the Mets have both their organization and the fans holding their breaths.
After former Met Chris Young got the Yankees on the board in Game 1 with a Sac Fly in the 1st inning, longtime Mets Lucas Duda and Daniel Murphy ruined a tremendous outing by Tanaka, launching a pair of solo homeruns in the 2nd and 7th innings, respectively.
Juan Uribe added a pinch-hit two-run blast in the seventh for the Mets off Yankee reliever Chasen Shreve.
A late rally by the Yankees was thwarted when closer Jeurys Familia struck out Chase Headley with the bases loaded, to secure the victory in the opener for the Mets, 5-1.
The following afternoon, former Met Carlos Beltran, while being booed ferociously by Mets fans, retaliated for his teams’ loss the previous night by crushing a crowd-silencing three-run homerun off of rookie Noah Syndeergard in the very first inning. Brian McCann would later go on to add a 2-run homerun in the 6th for the Yankees, as the Yankees evened up the series by shutting out the Mets 5-0.
In Game 2, Manager Joe Girardi utilized his greatest weapons out of the pen, 2-time All-Star setup man Dellin Betances, in the eighth inning, and closer Andrew Miller to get the last out of the game. Betances and Miller have arguably formed baseball’s best 1-2 punch at the back end of the bullpen, and have affectionately been dubbed “DnA” by their fans.
The “Sunday Night Game of the Week” on ESPN broadcasted the deciding showdown of the Subway Series. Former ace CC Sabathia took the ball for the Yankees, while current ace Matt Harvey returned to the Mets pitching staff for his first start in eleven days.
Sabathia was considered amongst the elite class of starting pitchers from 2007-2012, winning a CY Young with the Cleveland Indians (2007), posting in the top 5 for the CY Young voting with the Yankees three times (2009-2011), and also leading the Yankees to their first world series title since 2000 in the first year of his lucrative contract (2009). However, many injuries in the past few years, as well as his increase in age, have affected CC’s speed velocity and effectiveness as a pitcher. Although he is far from the impact ace he once was, Sabathia can still deliver dominant outings if the stakes are high enough.
CC’s counterpart in the opposing dugout on this decisive Sunday night was Matt Harvey, who arrives with baggage of his own. Nicknamed “The Dark Knight of Gotham” by Met fans, Harvey burst upon the scene in 2013, being named as the starting pitcher of the All-star Game at the Met’s Citi Field in only his second season. Sadly, an elbow injury late in the season required Tommy John Surgery, and he was forced to sit out the entire 2014 season. Now his agent, the notorious Scott Boras, has recently come out and declared Harvey has a total innings limit for this season of 180 innings. Being negatively perceived by the media for the first time in his young career, Harvey responded, assuring he will “absolutely pitch in the postseason,” and he will be “healthy and ready to go.” The Mets, amidst the unfortunate array of miscommunications, subsequently announced Harvey would be on an innings limit per start for the remainder of the year.
Captain David Wright got the Mets on the board early with an RBI double, continuing his hot streak since returning from the DL. Wright was sidelined four months with spinal stenosis.
With the Mets cruising along to a 1-0 lead in the top of 6th, Beltran yet again made his former team pay, this time with a go-ahead two-run double off Hansel Robles. Next came newest Yankee and former first-round pick Dustin Ackley, cementing himself in Subway Series history by hitting a stunning three-run homerun into the right field seats, making the score 5-1 with the Yankees in the lead.
Rookie Greg Bird added a three run homerun in the 8th inning, and a few more insurance runs later, the Yankees sealed the win, with a final score of 11-2.
Notably absent from the highlights of the series was Alex Rodriguez, who had three days of rest because the DH (Designated Hitter) position he has transitioned into is not used in National League ballparks. Rodriguez’s improbable comeback would normally draw “MVP” chatter, had it not been for both the negativity surrounding his year long suspension he served in 2014, and the magnitude of the MVP chatters hovering around this season’s best player out of Queens.
The Yankees successfully kept superstar Yoenis Cespedes from erupting this weekend, cooling down the mid-season trade acquisition quite a bit, who had entered the series with 17 homeruns and 42 RBIS in only two and a half months with the Mets. Even though Cespedes was picked up at the trade deadline, his value to the Mets offense, an enormously scuffling one before Cespedes’ arrival, has many predicting he could steal some first place votes away from frontrunner Bryce Harper, outfielder for the division rival Washington Nationals.
For now, the unwritten clause of bragging rights has deemed the Yankees as the superior New York team. But in a year where the odds of the Mets and Yankees facing off in the World Series are the highest in nearly a decade, the only way to measure New York’s greatest current team is by viewing who goes further in the playoffs. Or more importantly, which team, if either can make it, walks off as champions in their final game of the year.