Yanks' 'pen steers high-wire act to Subway sweep

Judge continues march toward history with 48th home run

August 24th, 2022

The enduring snapshot of this intracity showdown between two first-place clubs bound for October drama may well have taken place on Tuesday evening at Yankee Stadium. For a regular-season game, the electricity of that ninth inning would be difficult to match.

After Clarke Schmidt was pushed to a season-high 60 pitches, Wandy Peralta extinguished a bases-loaded jam by inducing a Francisco Lindor flyout, sealing the Yankees’ 4-2 victory over the Mets and a sweep of the Bronx portion of this year’s Subway Series.

“The way I see it is, it’s just me, the catcher and the hitter,” Peralta said through an interpreter. “You can’t really pay attention to the situation or what is going on. You’ve got to execute your pitches and you’ve got to get the job done.”

Aaron Judge hit a 453-foot drive into the bleachers for his Major League-leading 48th home run and Andrew Benintendi delivered a go-ahead hit as the Yankees rallied for their third consecutive victory. An announced crowd of 49,217, the largest at Yankee Stadium since 2013, witnessed the Yanks’ first series win of the month and just their third since the All-Star break.

“We got some clutch hits and clutch at-bats from guys,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. “This was a really good baseball game out there in a great environment. We were able to hang on tonight. It’s a good way to finish what’s been a tough stretch for us.”

After Frankie Montas held the Mets to two runs over 5 2/3 innings, making his fourth start as a Yankee and his Subway Series debut, Boone handed the ball to the 26-year-old Schmidt. Promoted this week, Schmidt has been envisioned by Boone to serve in a variety of roles, anything from spot starter to closer.

On this night, with Ron Marinaccio, Jonathan Loáisiga and Lou Trivino all considered unavailable, Schmidt would be Boone’s fireman -- helping turn the clock back to the 1970s in a game that featured a handful of bunts from both clubs.

Assisted by what Boone called “a really special” 6-4-3 double play in the eighth, Schmidt tossed three scoreless innings of three-hit relief, recording the first two outs of the ninth before a walk, an infield hit and another walk filled the bases.

“I’ve got to do a better job of finishing it, but it was a learning lesson to be in that environment,” Schmidt said.

Peralta knew his assignment was for Lindor, an opportunity to flash his slider. Getting ahead of Lindor 0-2, Peralta gasped as Lindor slashed the third pitch foul down the left-field line, just a few feet shy of clearing the bases. Peralta went to the changeup, inducing another foul, and then got a fly ball to center field that ended the game.

“It’s been a tough stretch, and we’re grinding,” Boone said. “I think these wins can go a long way in helping you get a little bit of confidence and get that swagger back, hopefully. We’ve got a lot of season left; we know we’ve got to play well. It’s right in front of us.”

Judge’s second homer in as many nights sparked the attack against Taijuan Walker, who permitted two runs over five innings, including a bases-loaded walk that marked rookie Oswaldo Cabrera’s first career RBI.

Starling Marte’s fifth-inning RBI single put the Mets on the board, and the visitors tied the game in the sixth, taking advantage of a lapse by second baseman Gleyber Torres. With Pete Alonso stumbling around third base, Torres attempted to tag out Jeff McNeil diving back into second base, allowing Alonso to dash home.

The Yankees pushed ahead with two runs in the seventh inning, offering rude welcomes to a pair of former Bombers relievers: Joely Rodríguez and Adam Ottavino.

Jose Trevino’s twisting popup off Rodríguez eluded Alonso for a hit that placed runners at the corners, then Benintendi slashed a run-scoring knock through the left side of the infield. One out later, Judge hammered a run-scoring single off Ottavino, collecting his Major League-leading 105th RBI.

Could this have been a preview of a true Subway Series, 2000-style? Judge thinks it may have been.

“That was as close to a playoff atmosphere as you’re going to get -- the last two nights and then [the July series] over at Citi Field,” Judge said. “It was a fun matchup. You’d like to think ahead a little bit, because of the pace they’re on and where we are too. But we’ve got to get there first.”