There was a battle this weekend, good people. You might not have even realized it was happening, but the very foundation of New York City was held in the hands (and legs, and bats, and gloves) of 2 titans of local sport. For years they've battled for city supremacy, with the evil empire from the Bronx reigning supreme time and time again. But not this year. Not with the Mets poised to strike while the empire was down. Not with The Dark Knight and The Guy With The Hair and that third baseman who's not A-Rod and that young catcher who always gets hurt and Curtis Granderson's rotting corpse and the closer who got pinched for steroids. Surely this was the year that the Mets would take back the city, reclaim it as their own, and vanquish the evil empire back from whence they came. Or maybe not, since they played like a JV high school team last night and got beat. Same old Mets.
And they had a fighting chance to take last night's rubber game against a very shaky Nathan Eovaldi. In his last start we got a glimpse of the new and improved Eovaldi, the more polished pitcher that Larry Rothschild was trying to build. Last night, it was the same old Eovaldi. He struggled right out of the gate, failing to put Granderson away on the opening at-bat of the game and giving up a leadoff homer to him, then giving up another run on a 2-out double by Daniel Murphy. He just couldn't locate his fastball on the corners. Plain and simple.
It didn't take long for the Yankees to strike back. Alex Rodriguez started the festivities with a solo shot in the bottom of the 1st. He got a 2-2 curveball from Jon Niese that stayed up enough for him to drive it out to right field. He got just enough of it to put it over the wall and put the Yankees on the board. He was a contributor in the bottom of the 2nd too when the Yankees really broke out. Jon Ryan Murphy got it started with a 1-out double, and after a 3-pitch Stephen Drew strikeout the Yanks rattled off 4 straight 2-out hits. Gregorio Petit double, Brett Gardner double, Chris Young single, A-Rod double. 4 runs on the board and a 5-2 lead for Eovaldi.
Which he very quickly gave back in the top of the 3rd. After striking out the first 2 batters of the inning and looking like he had settled in, Eovaldi lost his command again and gave up a single to Lucas Duda and back-to-back doubles by Michael Cuddyer and Murphy. All good at-bats, all well hit, and 2 of the hits coming with 2 strikes. The Mets got back within 5-4, and that 3rd inning was really all Joe needed to see to know how he was going to manage the rest of the game. Eovaldi got through the 4th no problem, but as soon as he gave up a hit to Juan Lagares in the 5th and Duda came back to the plate, Joe went to the 'pen.
And it worked out just the way you'd expect it to, with a first-pitch HBP by Chasen Shreve and an inning-ending double play off the bat of Cuddyer. That was the last real threat the Mets would mount on the night, succumbing to bad baserunning in the 6th and the overwhelming back end of the Yankee bullpen in the 8th and 9th. All in all, the 'pen went 4.2 hitless innings with 1 walk and 4 strikeouts. That was enough to hold the lead and ensure the city stayed in the clutches of the evil empire for a little while longer.
- The Yanks scored an insurance run in the 5th on a Wilmer Flores throwing error, 1 of 4 committed by the Met defense last night. The Yanks had 2 of their own as well. A well-played game this was not.
- I'd call this game a step back for Eovaldi. He fell into some bad habits and could never completely find his fastball command. He threw a lot of good sliders and a few decent changeups, but you can't miss that much in the middle of the zone, give up consistent hard contact like he did, and expect to get a lot of leash. 7 hits in 4.1 innings is too many. But no walks, so that's a plus.
- Nice night for A-Rod: 2-4, 2 XBH, 2 RBI, no strikeouts, and a pretty funny scene when he tried to advance to third base on his double in the 2nd. It was a horrible throw from the outfield, so it made sense to go. But there's just no giddy up left in those legs. He looked like he was carrying a refrigerator full of bricks as he took off for third. He knew it too. Good times.
- Gardner also had a 2-hit night subbing for Ellsbury in the leadoff spot. He's quietly having a nice start to his year.
- And another solid game for Murphy. 2-3 with a double and a R scored, and I thought he did a pretty good job grabbing Eovaldi a few more strikes here and there on close pitches. He really looks like a different player this season. Like he knows he belongs now.