NEW YORK -- Brett Gardner has always enjoyed the heightened atmosphere of the Subway Series, saying that he is entertained by the jockeying that takes place in the grandstands, no matter which borough the game is played in. That surely made his trip around the bases in Friday's intracity opener all the more enjoyable.
Gardner slugged a tie-breaking home run in the eighth inning to spoil Jacob deGrom's dominant effort, and Giancarlo Stanton collected yet another Citi Field homer as the Yankees rallied late to defeat the Mets, 4-1. Gardner's homer gave the Bombers their first lead of the evening after deGrom held the Yanks to a run on two hits over seven splendid frames.
"You go into it kind of like it's another game, but you know that it's going to be a great atmosphere," Gardner said. "The fans really get into it from both sides, especially when it's a close game like this. It's a lot of fun for us as players to be a part of."
Masahiro Tanaka was also on point through five innings before being forced to exit with stiffness in both hamstrings, the result of tagging up on an Aaron Judge sacrifice fly that represented the tying run in the sixth inning. Tanaka limped into the visitors' dugout after scoring his first big league run and will be re-evaluated on Saturday.
"You don't worry about that going into the game, but I am surprised it happened," Tanaka said through an interpreter. "I think we'll probably have a clearer picture tomorrow."
Tanaka surrendered a leadoff homer to Brandon Nimmo, marking his sixth straight start giving up a round-tripper, then limited the Mets to a walk and no further hits, with eight strikeouts.
"After the leadoff homer, he was dialed in," manager Aaron Boone said. "I thought his splitter was really strong tonight. He was cruising."
The Yankees' bench shifted from excitement to concern in the sixth, cheering as the weak-hitting hurler rolled a grounder to first base and reached on Adrian Gonzalez's error. Moving around the bases on Gleyber Torres' single, a walk to Gardner and Judge's sacrifice fly, Tanaka touched home plate when the throw from right fielder Jay Bruce took catcher Devin Mesoraco up the first-base line.
"It was shallow, so I wasn't sure if I was going to go or not," Tanaka said. "But our third-base coach kind of shouted, 'Tag up,' so that's what I did."
With the Mets' offense silenced after Nimmo's first-inning blast into the second deck in right field, deGrom continued his season-long trend of pitching dominant ball but garnering little run support to back it up.
After Tanaka exited, Jonathan Holder, Chad Green and Dellin Betances fired scoreless innings before handing the ball to Albertin Chapman, who recorded the final three outs for his 16th save.
At that point the Yankees had a three-run lead thanks to Stanton, who has collected the most homers of any visiting player since Citi Field opened its gates in 2009. The former Marlins slugger provided that breathing room by dinging one to left field in the ninth inning off reliever Paul Sewald. It was the 22nd homer in 53 games at the ballpark for Stanton, who has hit 15 in his first season with the Yankees.
"It's always been comfortable playing here," Stanton said. "Good backdrop. Good dimensions. That's all."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Gardner's blast came as he turned on an 87.3-mph deGrom changeup, slugging the ball 384 feet, as calculated by Statcast™. It was the sixth go-ahead homer by a Yankee in the eighth inning or later in a Subway Series, joining homers by Jorge Posada (July 10, 1999), Robin Ventura (June 14, 2002), Russell Martin (June 10, 2012), Robinson Cano (June 24, 2012) and Aaron Hicks (Aug. 14, 2017).
"I'm not a guy who's going to stand up there and just go deep every time a pitcher makes a mistake," Gardner said. "I've got to get a little bit lucky, too. I'm just fortunate to be seeing the ball well. I put a good swing on it and came through in a big spot."
Torres went 2-for-3, becoming the youngest Yankee (21 years, 177 days) with a multihit game in the Subway Series. The previous youngest Yankee with a multihit game in the Subway Series was Melky Cabrera (21 years, 324 days) on July 1, 2006.
"It's a lot of fans, Mets and Yankees fans," Torres said. "It's a little bit crazy. It's loud, too. I feel great. I feel excited for that game and focused and do my job, and try to enjoy and help my team."
HE SAID IT
"He means so much to our team, the heartbeat, what he brings every day. Quality at-bats all the time, and for the better part of a month now, the results have followed those quality at-bats. He's a savage up there at the top." -- Boone, on Gardner
The Yankees will continue the Subway Series on Saturday, with right-hander Domingo German (0-4, 5.44 ERA) taking the ball in a 7:15 p.m. ET start against the Mets at Citi Field. The rookie has posted a 6.33 ERA in five starts since taking Jordan Montgomery's place in the rotation. Left-hander Steven Matz (2-4, 3.42 ERA) will make the start for the Mets.