Sometimes the Subway Series is filled with surprises. Other times it serves to confirm our initial beliefs. Both were the case Friday night as it reconvened at the Stadium.
For Mets fans, there was a 7-5 victory before a sellout crowd of 47,175 that underscored what they suspected all along: that this might have been a very different season were it not for the injuries to Noah Syndergaard and Yoenis Cespedes. For Yankees fans, the loss was an irritating reminder that the club could use at least one more starting pitcher.
The real surprises came later. The relentless Yankees lineup assembled threats in the final four innings but the Mets held them off. The Yanks scored four runs — getting to within 6-5 in the eighth — but also stranded seven runners over that stretch. And it was Robert Gsellman and not closer Jeurys Familia who got Brett Gardner to hit into a game-ending forceout.
The Yankees stranded 14 runners and were 2-for-13 with runners in scoring position.
Mets manager Mickey Callaway said he was informed in the fourth or fifth inning that he wasn’t to bring Familia into the game “because there’s a potential trade.”
Rumors have swirled that the Mets would be sellers this month before the non-waiver trade deadline, but there was a palpable sense of sadness in the Mets clubhouse despite the triumph. Several teammates hugged Familia goodbye in case the deal was consummated before the team reported for Saturday’s 1 p.m. game.
The slugging Cespedes returned from missing nearly 10 weeks with a strained hip flexor and went 2-for-4 with a home run and two runs scored.
Syndregaard allowed eight hits but yielded just one run in five solid innings. He struck out four, including the 500th of his career. In the middle of the fifth, Callaway visited Syndergaard to see if anything was bothering him because of a velocity dip, but the righthander struck out Giancarlo Stanton and got an Aaron Hicks to fly out to finish the inning.
“Nothing was bothering me,” Syndergaard said. “My velo was a little bit down, but I think it’s just a little dead arm because of missing six weeks and then getting three days off for the All-Star Game. It’s nothing to be alarmed about . . . I’ll be ready to go in five days.”
Yanks starter Domingo German made a case for a starting pitching upgrade as he was tagged for four runs and wasn’t able to complete four innings. The righthander fell to 2-6, saw his ERA climb to 5.68.
Yankees manager Aaron Boone said German is being plagued by a mechanical issue and is being sent to the minors Saturday. The Yankees will likely add a pitcher for the upcoming four games and Luis Cessa will be penciled in to take that spot the next time through.
The sense of urgency for a rotation upgrade is clear; the Yankees are chasing the Red Sox and probably need better starting pitching if they are to avoid playing in the AL wild-card game.
Boone was asked before first pitch about the state of trade talks and replied: “I know from [principal owner] Hal [Steinbrenner] to [general manager Brian Cashman], they are exhausting every option, having conversations with all the teams . . . I have complete trust they’ll do what’s best for the organization and that no leaf is going to go unturned. They’re addressing every option, I know that.”
Cespedes said that he felt good in his return to the team and was comfortable running the bases, scoring from second on one of Michael Conforto’s three run-scoring hits. But Cespedes voiced concern about a perception that he has not worked hard to return and added that the myriad leg ailments he has dealt with in his time with the Mets are rooted in calcifications in both heels.
Through his interpreter, Cespedes said, “I think people have the wrong idea about [his health issues], I am sure of that.” And he added that he was disappointed with postings on social media that reflect that.
He also said that he was told surgery to repair his heels has an eight- to 10-month recovery period and that he isn’t certain about when that could happen. When asked if he could make it through the season, Cespedes shrugged.