The last thing that Adam Ottavino wanted to see was manager Buck Showalter coming out of the dugout, but that’s exactly what he got.
The Mets setup man was trying to finish the eighth inning and protect a two-run lead but things changed fast. He issued a two-out walk. The Yankees pinch hit power hitter Joey Gallo as the tying run. And it was time for the Mets to issue what has become their best and final answer.
In came Edwin Diaz for a four-out save. Six pitches later, Gallo was walking back to the dugout, just another strikeout victim in a wake of them that the All-Star closer has left behind this season. The Mets were on their way to a 6-3 Subway Series win at Citi Field.
“Nobody wants to come out of the game; they want to get the last out of their \[assignment\],” Ottavino said. “But when he’s coming in, you feel pretty good about it. You feel \[it’s\] pretty automatic.”
Diaz got three more strikeouts in the ninth inning for his 22nd save in 25 opportunities. He’s fanned 27 of the last 36 batters and 82 of the 156 who have stepped into the box against him this season.
“When I have the ball in my hand, I am prepared to face anyone. I’m thinking I am the best on the mound,” Diaz said. “They have to think of this guy’s coming \[in\], so they have to be ready. I think I am the best every time.”
Pete Alonso said: “When we see Eddie get the ball, we know the he’s going to shut the door. He has really flourished this season.”
Diaz had come off a 57-save season with Seattle when the Mets acquired him with Robinson Cano for five players, including then-top prospect Jared Kelenic. And he didn’t help himself with a 5.59 ERA that first season after the highly scrutinized deal. But all of that negativity is vanishing in the rearview mirror now as hitters wave at his crackling 99-mph fastball and wicked slider.
“Sometimes when you go through some struggles, especially in New York, and you come out on the other side, it makes you even better,” Showalter said. “I don’t care if it’s a three-run lead or the bottom of the order, he pitches it like a one-run game and facing the ’27 Yankees ... Going through some ups and downs along the way and you get to that 29- or 30-year-old range, they kind of look around and understand why things happened in the past and don’t want it to happen again.”
In the Yankees’ ninth with the lead up to three runs, Diaz cut through trouble with pure power. He allowed an infield single to Jose Trevino and bounced back by striking out DJ LeMahieu on three fastballs and a slider to bring up Aaron Judge for one of the more entertaining at-bats of the contest.
One fastball got fouled off. The next Judge swung through. Then a slider that the Yankees slugger hit back to Diaz and which he awkwardly threw into the turf for an error.
No matter, though: he struck out Anthony Rizzo and Gleyber Torres to end it.
“I enjoyed it,” Diaz said of facing Judge. “I threw my fastball in the middle a couple times. He’s having an MVP season, so it was fun to face him today.”
“Edwin has been a rock for us and I don’t know if there’s been a better guy in the game this year than him,” Showalter said. “Competitively, and regardless that he’s pitching for you or not, it’s been an honor to watch him pitch all year.”