Over the past month, the Yankees have managed to win 13 straight games, but have also suffered four- and seven-game losing streaks. The Mets started August in first place and finished it in third place, out of the playoff photo and apologizing that some of their stars made thumbs-down gestures to their own fans.
The star-studded seasons of both teams converged this weekend in the first Subway series played on the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. The match began with a heartfelt ceremony honoring the victims on Saturday’s 20th anniversary, in which players from both teams mingled on the foul lines for the national anthem, wearing hats honoring first aid agencies such as the New York Fire Department and the New York Police Department. The teams then led a nearly four-hour home and away game in which the Yankees won, 8-7, to end a winless week.
The roller coaster of a game matched the unfolding of the seasons for both teams.
“I think every day is the start of a streak,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. “I believe in this team. I believe in this group. It wasn’t pretty. It is sometimes ugly. But I don’t think this group will ever lose faith in what we’re capable of when we’re at our best.
As the Mets’ playoff odds fell to just 4.3 percent, according to FanGraphs, the Yankees, who are battling for a wildcard spot in the American League, needed Saturday’s win just to make the point. on the spot, as their main competitors have also received feedback.
But for the New York teams, Saturday had emotions that went beyond the season. A sold-out crowd with bipartisan sympathies repeatedly rehearsed call-and-response chants of “Let’s go Mets” and “Let’s go Yankees”, with everyone joining the chorus of “USA, USA!”
“It was for the city,” said Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge, who scored twice and had a dive in the ninth inning.
“It was for the Yankees fans. It was for everyone who was affected that day, ”he said. “It was more than just a baseball game tonight. It was an honor to be able to be there and to be on this ground and to be able to represent New York. It’s hard to describe. I grew up in California, but my heart and soul is in New York.
Summoning that spirit of victory came in spurts for the Yankees. A loss to Toronto on Thursday night ended what Boone called a “horrible homestand” that culminated in four losses to the Blue Jays. On Friday, with the skid reaching seven games in a loss to the Mets – the Yankees’ worst streak in 25 years – infielder DJ LeMahieu admitted the Yankees were “beyond frustration”, saying his club was “the brightest team in the league”.
But on Saturday, the team that had dominated the majors not so long ago showed up.
The Yankees hit three home runs in the second inning against Mets starter Taijuan Walker, and Judge hit his second of the night in the eighth to tie the game. And their brute strength was complemented by a bit of fuss with their winning run – the only one of the eight not to be tackled on a long ball – turning around thanks to a hard slide and stray throw. Pinch hitter Luke Voit sank into what looked to be a double play late in the inning, but Mets second baseman Javier Baez pulled his pivot throw away from first base, allowing to pinch runner Andrew Velazquez to come home.
“You can always go strong and challenge it, and he absolutely made an impact on this game and made a difference,” said Boone. “It was good to see a core racing game, a hustle and bustle game, really paying dividends for us there.”
The Yankees rally ended what had seemed like a fairytale victory for the Mets, thanks to a home run with an unequivocal echo. Just as Hall of Famer Mike Piazza had a late-inning two-run moonshot on September 21, 2001 to help the Mets win the first major sporting event in New York after the 9/11 attacks, so did The New Catcher. franchise starter James McCann had a two-run homerun to take a late lead on Saturday. McCann had also trebled and scored in the bottom half of the second.
“The guys have been resilient once again, fighting, and we’ve shown that all year with guys who don’t give up despite that start they had against Walker,” the manager said. des Mets, Luis Rojas.
The Mets, however, were unable to hold on to the lead, reliever Trevor May allowing three points as his team fell to a 7-5 lead. The loss left the Mets four games away from second place wildcard. It was their eighth loss this season as they led after seven innings.
While Saturday’s win helped the Yankees avoid falling behind Toronto in their own wildcard run – the Blue Jays won both games of a doubles program against the Baltimore Orioles on Saturday to virtually qualify for the second wildcard – there are still a lot of issues to be resolved.
More than three hours before Saturday’s first pitch, the Yankees were practicing on the field, a necessary task after appearing remarkably neglectful in an unbalanced 10-3 loss to the Mets on Friday. In the first inning, Yankees wide receiver Gary Sanchez received a throw while Mets’ Jonathan Villar was still 20 feet from home plate. Still, Sanchez only made one high beacon attempt on Villar, who never slowed down and then glided safely. Speaking of Friday’s game as a whole, Boone called it “just a bad performance, period.”
Several players spoke during a team meeting, full of reminders about the potential of the team. “We’re the same team that just had 13 straight wins a few weeks ago,” said outfielder Brett Gardner, who hit a home run and a single Saturday night.
Already battling injuries in three-fifths of their rotation – Gerrit Cole, Jameson Taillon and Domingo German are all missing – the Yankees have compounded their recent challenges by failing to squeeze depth out of their patchwork of starters. Corey Kluber came out after four four-run innings on Saturday, the sixth time in the past eight games that the team’s starting pitcher failed to complete the fifth inning.
Saturday was the first of those games they won, but the streak left the Yankees wondering how to maintain that pace for the last 20 games of the season. After the win, Boone admitted he was not sure yet who would start on Sunday night. He had also used all positional players except two on Saturday.
“One of those where we needed everyone, and we used almost everyone,” he said.