It was too little too late for the NY Mets as they tried to stave off a four game sweep in their crosstown series with the NY Yankees at Citi Field last night.
The Mets trailed 7-1 heading into the bottom of the ninth, with Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez doing most of the damage. Sanchez smacked a three-run homer in the first inning and added two more RBI's with a two-run single in the fourth, with Steven Matz yielding all the runs for the Mets. On the other side of the hill Luis Severino took a two-hit shut-out into the seventh, striking out nine along the way, and there was no expectation of a Mets comeback when the ninth rolled around.
But the Mets loaded the bases in the ninth against Bryan Mitchell and Curtis Granderson unloaded them with a grand slam to make it a 7-5 game. That forced Yankees manager Joe Girardi to call on Dellin Betances to close out the game, and he did, making it four wins in a row for the Yankees as they head to Fenway Park tonight for yet another critical series with the A.L. east-leading Boston Red Sox. That appearance by Betances, though, was not what Girardi wanted heading into the showdown with the Red Sox as Betances has now been called upon in four of the past five games for the Yankees, so we'll see if that has an effect on tonight's contest. The gap between the two ancient rivals is four games, and the pitching match-up tonight will feature two southpaws, rookie Jordan Montgomery for New York against the veteran Drew Pomeranz for Boston, who were idle yesterday following their dramatic three-run come from behind victory in the bottom of the ninth against St. Louis Wednesday night.
By the way, if you're keeping track of Aaron Judge's consecutive strike-out streak, it is still in play, now at 34 games, two shy of Adam Dunn's major league record, but with 37 home runs on the year for Judge, the Yankees will take that trade off every day of the week and twice on Sunday.
One other note from this series, and it is a curiosity that occurred in game three when Mets manager Terry Collins got creative with a player shortage and consequently created a box score for the ages. Collins had injuries to third baseman Wilmer Flores and second baseman Jose Reyes and was forced to use his catcher Travis D'Arnaud at third, with Asbrudal Cabrera at second. But D'Arnaud had never started a game at third base in his eleven years in the majors and that made Collins nervous. So every time a right handed Yankees batter came to the plate, D'Arnaud switched places with Cabrera and went over to second, the idea being that a right-handed hitter is more likely to pull a ball towards third, and Collins wanted to make sure D'Arnaud had to field as few balls as possible at the hot corner. And the switch was made back every time a Yankee lefty came up to bat. This swapping of positions happened 22 times in the game and if you check the box score from that Mets loss two nights ago you see a line of alternating 2B and 3B markings next to D'Arnaud's name that looks like someone fell asleep on the computer keyboard. Just another indication that when you finally think you've seen it all in baseball, you haven't.
The Toronto Blue Jays are technically still in last place in the A.L. east, but so are the Tampa Bay Rays and Baltimore Orioles, all three teams now tied for last in the division, ten and a half games behind the first place Red Sox. The difference for Toronto is that they've been winning ball games to achieve that three-way tie while the O's and Rays have mostly been losing them, especially Tampa, tagged with another loss to Toronto last night, 5-3 at the Rogers Centre. Justin Smoak had the game winning hit, a two-run homer in the bottom of the 8th that broke a 3-3 tie and teammate Josh Donaldson added to his recent power surge, hitting two solo home runs off Tampa starter Chris Archer in the win, and Donaldson has now gone yard in eleven of his last nineteen games. I said a few days ago that it's probably too late in the season for the Blue Jays to make a run at the playoffs, but while the division title is likely out of reach, if you're a glass half full Jays fan you'll note that Toronto is just three games out of a wild card spot. But as a card carrying member of the glass half empty club I must point out that there are seven teams ahead of them for that same wild card entry, so to get into the post season the Jays will need to sustain their recent home run barrage for the rest of August and well into September. Stranger things, as the saying goes, have happened.
In New York Penn League action, the Vermont Lake Monsters trailed 2-1 heading into the bottom of the ninth, but got a walk-off win at Centennial Field thanks to a clutch two-out, two-run double by Mickey McDonald that delivered a 3-2 win for the Monsters over the Lowell Spinners.
McDonald was an unlikely hero, mired in a 2-for-25 slump, but he had a great at-bat, fouling off three 0-2 pitches before lining a double to right-center to score Will Toffey and James Terrell for Vermont’s sixth walk-off win of the year. Vermont has now won three straight to maintain its first-place lead in the Stedler Division ahead of the Tri-City Valley Cats. The Lake Monsters pitching staff yielded just two unearned runs on six hits and a walk, combining for 14 strikeouts. Vermont starter Jesus Luzardo, gave up just one hit and struck out five over four scoreless innings in his second start for the Lake Monsters.