For the second straight game, the Yankees got clutch pitching to shut down the Mets and take a close one, 3-2. Pettite was very good through six, coming out for the sixth after a 53-minute rain delay and ultimately out-dueling Santana. Veras, Nuke, and Mariano shut the door by combining for three innings of one-hit, three strikeout ball with Mariano earning his 22nd save of the year and 465th of his illustrious career.
The Mets struck first when Ramon Castro blasted a deep homer to center in the bottom of the second, 1-0 Mets. The first three innings were really tight, with Santana fanning the side in the second, and allowing only one base runner through the first three. Pettite hung tough and got help from Melky’s great catch in center off Wright, and the Yankees’ patience paid off in the top of the fourth. Jeter and Abreu worked back-to-back walks to lead off, A-Rod singled to left to load the bases, Giambi’s slow 6-3 scored Jeter, 1-0, and Jorge’s sac fly to center made it 2-0. Cano singled, but Melky forced Cano at second. But Pettite held the lead thereafter, getting ex-Yankee Andy Phillips to ground into a 6-6-3 DP to end the fourth. With two outs in the bottom of the fifth, Reyes singled and Easley walked, but with Wright up Pettite whirled and picked a frozen Reyes off second to end the threat. That was pick-off artistry.
The Yankees added on a run in the sixth when A-Rod walked, advanced to second on Santana’s balk, Giambi K’d, Jorge received an intentional pass, and Cano singled to center to score A-Rod, 3-1, nice clutch hitting from Cano. Much to my chagrin, Melky swung at the first pitch with his F7 ending the inning, but it stood up for the Yanks after a brief rain delay. Wright led off with a homer on a slightly hanging cutter, 3-2 Yanks. But Pettite fanned Beltran and got Delgado and Tatis to ground out. Veras entered and was good, Nuke pitched the eighth and was better, fanning Beltran to end the frame. But Mariano, the greatest relief pitcher of all time, made the ninth look easy, earning the save on only 12 pitches, fanning two.
Cano was 2-4 with his 33rd RBI, batting .244 now. Giambi’s RBI groundout was his 46th RBI. Jorge’s sac fly was his 20th RBI. A-Rod was 1-3, batting .327, with his 10th stolen base and his 44th run in 60 games. Abreu was 1-3 with a run and is hitting .286. The Yankees’ #1-4 hitters each had a walk. The Yankees left eight on, four in scoring position, but did just enough in a well-pitched game.
I remember thinking before the game, as I grabbed a cold Foster’s motor oil can, that there might be five runs scored in all today. That was so, thankfully in the Yanks’ favor. The Yanks win the Shea part of the series, and the win caps their first half at 44-37, ahead of last year and not too shabby in spite of a lot of injuries and inconsistency. Pettite improves to 9-5 with a 3.98 ERA
I’ll post mid-year grades before tomorrow afternoon’s game, an HDLR event, and before tomorrow night’s YFCR appearance. Veras’s ERA is 2.96, Nuke’s ERA is at 4.00, and Mariano is down to 0.74. The Yankees are 14-6 in the last 20 games. Keep up the good work, guys.