Long ball sinks Capuano

Chris Capuano #38 of the New York Mets

Chris Capuano #38 of the New York Mets looks on in the sixth inning after surrendering a home run against Alex Rodriguez of the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium. (May 21, 2011) (Credit: Jim McIsaac)

Unlike many first-time visitors to Yankee Stadium, Chris Capuano wasn't really interested in seeing Monument Park or any of the other historical nuances. In the hours leading up to his start Saturday, Capuano wanted to check out the mound, just so there wouldn't be any "surprises" when he took the baseball against the Yankees.

Apparently, Capuano should have taken a few more mental notes of his surroundings, particularly the dimensions of the Bronx ballpark. Maybe Capuano simply forgot he wasn't at spacious Citi Field anymore, because too many of the pitches he teed up eventually were caught by fans instead of teammates.

Capuano allowed a career-high four home runs in 51/3 innings and the Mets didn't have the firepower to keep pace as they stumbled to a 7-3 loss that evened the Subway Series. Russell Martin and Mark Teixeira swatted two-run homers, and in the sixth inning, Curtis Granderson and Alex Rodriguez added solo shots.

"'I'd say that maybe he threw seven bad pitches all night," manager Terry Collins said. "It's just that four were hit out of the ballpark."

There was nothing cheap about Martin's two-run blast, which Capuano described as a "no-doubter." And batting righthanded, Teixeira drilled a first-pitch fastball for what amounted to a 400-foot shot to right-center. But A-Rod golfed a changeup down the leftfield line and Granderson yanked a slider over the short rightfield wall.

"I think if you can keep them up the middle, you're OK," Capuano said. "You look down both lines, those stands are pretty close. When [Derek] Jeter led off the game with a fly ball to deep center, that kind of set me at ease. I knew if I could keep them up the middle, I'd be all right. I think I threw probably too many strikes, if that's possible, especially when I got ahead in the count."

Most disturbing was Granderson's home run. Entering Saturday, Capuano had allowed only 12 homers to lefthanded hitters in 644 at-bats during his career. That was tied with the Pirates' Paul Maholm for the fewest among active pitchers who had logged at least 800 innings.

"I kind of went to the well one too many times there," Capuano said. "I threw a couple of good sliders to get ahead and threw that one off the plate away from him. It was a little more up than I wanted it, but he was on it, went out and got it. I've seen him hit that pitch before.

"In retrospect, I would have chased him in with a good fastball before I went back to that. But I tip my hat. He went out there and got it."

Aside from his May 15 start, when Capuano left after five innings because of a blister threat, Saturday's outing was his shortest of the year. The six runs allowed was his highest total since April 14.

Capuano's implosion is the only blemish on what had been a brilliant May for the Mets' overachieving pitching staff. In the previous four games, they surrendered three runs in 38 innings (0.71 ERA). They allowed one run in the previous 27 innings (0.33 ERA). Before Capuano's rough night, the Mets' 2.66 ERA for this month had been the best in baseball, and the rotation was 7-4 with a 3.43 ERA.

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