The Yankees have the better record, higher payroll and greater star power, but for one night, the Mets had what mattered most: the clutch hits.
With Jerry Manuel's job status riding on the Mets' performance these days, they came through in tight spots against the Yankees and looked nothing like the team that lost 10 of their previous 13 games, including a 2-1 loss to the Yankees on Friday night.
Jason Bay went 4-for-4 with three runs scored and Mike Pelfrey allowed one run in six innings, but the Mets' success in the clutch was why they notched their first victory over the Yankees at Citi Field in five tries. The Mets went 5-for-12 with runners in scoring position compared to the Yankees' 3-for-14.
Manuel said the game had a playoff-like feel to it because of the energy surrounding these games, and he was happy his players responded the way they did, especially in the clutch. "It's huge. It's very important," he said. "There's a lot of electricity in here."
Bay agreed. "We've struggled knocking in runs with guys, and with two outs especially," he said. "Two-out RBIs are a killer. Tack one on here, one on there and we ended up needing those runs at the end. We're not going to do it all the time, but we were barely doing it at all."
The Yankees know the feeling. Few things frustrate a team more than the double-dip of giving up runs with two outs and failing to come through with two outs, and the Yankees endured both. Most frustrating is that they left two runners on in each of their final three innings.
"There's no doubt we've struggled in those situations," manager Joe Girardi said.
They had their first two hitters in the seventh reach base but failed to score. They loaded the bases to start the eighth and scored two runs, but they had the bases loaded, one out and a run home and could add only one more run, thanks in large part to Francisco Rodriguez, who picked up a five-out save.
"You can look at all the wasted opportunities we had," Girardi said.
On the flip side, you also could look at all the times the Mets came through. Wright has struggled in the clutch this season, most recently making the last out of the Mets' 2-1 loss Friday night with the potential tying run on second base. But Wright broke through with two-out RBI singles off Yankees righthander Phil Hughes in the first and third innings.
"Those two-out RBI base hits up the middle were huge for him and huge for us," Manuel said. "It gave the whole bench a lift because we have not been very successful in those situations."
Pagan followed Wright's two-out RBI single with one of his own in the first inning, and he added a two-out RBI double off Chan Ho Park in the seventh to make it 5-1.
Hughes' outing could be best described as frustrating because all that stood between him and a solid outing was those two-out RBI singles. He had strong stuff, recording seven strikeouts in 52/3 innings, but too often he couldn't get the third out. Pinch hitter Alex Cora's two-out RBI single knocked him out.
Pelfrey breezed his first five innings, allowing no runs and only two Yankees to get into scoring position. The righthander quickly recorded the first two outs of the sixth inning, too, before the Yankees cut their deficit to 3-1.
Robinson Cano singled to centerfield and Nick Swisher lined a double to rightfield, putting two runners in scoring position for Francisco Cervelli, who hit a grounder back to the mound that Pelfrey had a chance to field but couldn't. The ball ricocheted off his glove for an infield hit and a run. Three innings later, however, with runners on first and third, Cervelli struck out to end the game.