The Yankees apparently can only win by the score of 4-2. After the lousy play of the past few weeks, this team will take wins in any way they can. Frankie Montas delivered his best performance as a Yankee, and key contributions from Aaron Judge and the defense led the way. This one went down to the wire, but the Yanks pulled through for their third-straight dub — all by a 4-2 margin.
The trade deadline acquisition Montas looked a little shaky through the first couple of innings, allowing multiple hitters to reach base in each. It seemed like Wednesday might end up being a reprise of his first three outings in pinstripes, but the powerful right-hander buckled down and pitched himself out of trouble by keeping the Mets off the board on both occasions.
At a time when the offense is scuffling, each hitter has to do his part not to get lost in the struggle and keep their focus on the other phases of the game. You can easily change the path of a game with a defensive play here and there, and that’s exactly what this team did for Montas tonight.
The former Athletic faced runners at the corners with one out in the top of the second inning, and it looked like a long outing wasn’t in the cards with 34 pitches thrown and only four outs recorded. Thankfully, Isiah Kiner-Falefa and Gleyber Torres turned this gorgeous double play to keep the pitch count at bay and the game scoreless.
Fast-forward to the fifth inning, and with the Yankees managing a 2-0 lead that we’ll get to in a second, rookie Oswaldo Cabrera welcomed himself to the story. The 23-year-old has been lauded for his defensive flexibility, and while he had only three games of professional outfield experience before joining The Show, he robbed a home run in his first play in right field the other day. Tonight, he pulled off another marvelous play to keep the Yankees in the lead.
Starling Marte was at the plate with runners on second and third, and a very real threat to tie the game presented itself. Marte singled into right-field, and Cabrera came up with a laser to throw out Brett Baty at the plate, thus keeping the Yanks in the lead at 2-1.
Although those important defensive plays helped Montas through his outing, he left the mound with a bitter taste in his mouth and experienced the opposite end of what was just discussed. On his last pitch, his middle-infield defense betrayed him.
Jeff McNeil doubled with two outs and looked poised to drive into Pete Alonso, who was at first, but the Mets’ first baseman stumbled while rounding third. He was heading back to the base when Torres completely misread the play and tried to tag out McNeil between second and third, allowing Alonso to score easily.
A pitcher can only rely on his defense to bail him out so many times, and under normal circumstances, Alonso scores easily on that play, but that doesn’t shed blame away from Torres (or Kiner-Falefa, who was in no man’s land , not covering second). This was a play that showcased a lack of awareness and cost the Yankees both a run and the lead in a tightly-contested affair.
On the offensive side of the ball, it was the Aaron Judge Show once again, as the Yankees’ slugger hit his second home run in as many days, the fourth of his career against Taijuan Walker, and also added an RBI single in the bottom of the seventh.
The blast marked No. 48 on the season for No. 99, and he passed Hall of Famer Dave Winfield and tied Mark Teixeira for 13th all-time in Yankees history with his 206th homer.
However, it was encouraging to see different hitters contributing — mainly Benintendi who’s struggled to begin his Yankee career, but just delivered his third straight multi-hit performance. The former Red Sox foe showed off those contact skills that prompted the front office to make a move to bring him over from Kansas City at the deadline.
Before Judge upped the Yankees’ lead to 4-2, it was Benintendi who delivered the go-ahead hit with a single to the opposite field off 2021 Bomber Joely Rodríguez.
That hit came right after a defensive miscue by the Mets, as Alonso returned the favor by getting turned around and failing to catch a Jose Trevino pop fly into shallow right that ended up as a hit.
Tonight, the bullpen got a break before the off-day, as the first 8.2 innings were entirely covered by Montas and the recently-recalled Clarke Schmidt. The 26-year-old is a starter by trade and was stretched out in Triple-A, so he came in and nearly pitched the rest of the way while the Yankees seized the lead.
Schmidt managed to escape trouble in the eighth, but not before Wandy Peralta got up as a contingency plan. The same thing happened, as Schmidt almost gutted it out, but was unable to close out the ninth. He loaded the bases after earning two outs to open the inning, with two walks sandwiched in between an infield single by Brandon Nimmo.
Peralta came in with the bases packed to face Francisco Lindor and earned the rare one-out save by getting the Mets’ shortstop to fly out to Estevan Florial in center field. The lefty has been solid all year long and demonstrated last year that he can get a big out against just about anyone, even the likes of Lindor and Freddie Freeman. Peralta did the job once more for his seventh career save, securing the Subway Series sweep, a victory for Schmidt, and a three-game winning streak.
The Yankees get to breathe tomorrow with a day off as they travel out to the West Coast with an eight-game AL East lead on the Rays. New York will face the A’s on Thursday in Oakland with Jameson Taillon likely taking the hill. Brew some coffee and tune in with us at 9:40pm ET.