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Mets' 9th-inning charge falls short vs. Yankees

MLB.com @AnthonyDiComo

NEW YORK -- For nine brief innings on Friday night, for three short hours, the Mets rediscovered what they look like with Yoenis Cespedes anchoring their lineup. Cespedes homered and the Mets won a game, and all was rosy until the outfielder's postgame admission that he may need major surgery on his heels.

A day later, the Mets tumbled back to the reality of life without their best hitter. As Cespedes rested, the Mets struggled throughout a 7-6 loss Saturday to the Yankees at Yankee Stadium, which exposed their lack of position-player depth.

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NEW YORK -- For nine brief innings on Friday night, for three short hours, the Mets rediscovered what they look like with Yoenis Cespedes anchoring their lineup. Cespedes homered and the Mets won a game, and all was rosy until the outfielder's postgame admission that he may need major surgery on his heels.

A day later, the Mets tumbled back to the reality of life without their best hitter. As Cespedes rested, the Mets struggled throughout a 7-6 loss Saturday to the Yankees at Yankee Stadium, which exposed their lack of position-player depth.

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"We know that when he's healthy, he's going to produce," manager Mickey Callaway said of Cespedes. "It's more about the other guys that we have, that we need to figure out exactly what they can and what they can't do."

The critical rally unfolded in the fourth, when center fielder Matthew den Dekker misplayed a trio of run-scoring hits. First, den Dekker dived in an attempt to snare Didi Gregorius' liner, which skipped past him for a triple. Two batters later, Greg Bird crushed a double that glanced off den Dekker's glove as he attempted to make a basket catch. Then Austin Romine hit a sinking liner that den Dekker did not read properly off the bat, resulting in a single.

Video: NYM@NYY: Matz, den Dekker talk loss to Yankees

"That's just how it goes sometimes," den Dekker said. "Sometimes you make the play, sometimes you don't. They put some good swings on the ball and it paid off for them."

All four runs in the fourth were charged to Steven Matz, who allowed a total of five in five-plus innings

Without Cespedes, the Mets struggled to match that sort of offensive output. Michael Conforto provided an early run with a solo homer off Yankees starter Sonny Gray, and the Mets took advantage of two walks and an error to draw within a run of the lead in the sixth.

Video: NYM@NYY: Rosario drives in Conforto with a single

They then rallied against Aroldis Chapman in the ninth, scoring twice and loading the bases with no outs to force the Yankees to pull their closer from the game. But Chasen Shreve induced a double play from Devin Mesoraco, and Wilmer Flores grounded out to end the game.

"You had a guy out there that was kind of struggling [with] the strike zone," Callaway said. "I thought we were going to be able to make a good comeback there."

Video: NYM@NYY: Reyes draws a bases-loaded walk in the 9th

It is a comeback that might have been easier with Cespedes, who ranks fifth on the team in home runs despite losing nine and a half weeks of the season to injury. And he's almost certainly about to miss more. After Saturday's loss, Callaway said Cespedes will undergo an MRI and meet with a foot specialist early next week. The outfielder is dealing with calcification in both heels, which he says could require major surgery and an eight- to 10-month recovery.

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Rally in the ninth: Trailing by four runs heading into the ninth, the Mets found new life when Chapman loaded the bases on a pair of walks and an infield single. Jose Reyes followed with a bases-loaded walk to force in a run, and Chapman hit the next batter, Brandon Nimmo, to send home another.

That was enough for Yankees manager Aaron Boone, who lifted Chapman in favor of Shreve. The move worked, as Shreve stranded the potential tying run on third.

"I just think it's one of those hiccups that happens over the course of the year," Boone said. "It just got a little away from him there."

Video: NYM@NYY: Kelly scores on DP to bring Mets within 1

SOUND SMART
Aaron Judge's solo homer in the seventh snapped a stretch of 25 consecutive innings without one for Mets pitchers. Tim Peterson gave up the shot.

Nimmo tied Lucas Duda (2015) for the Mets' single-season record for hit-by-pitches when Gray plunked him in the fifth, and he broke the mark when Chapman clipped him in the ninth, Nimmo's 15th hit-by-pitch of the year.

Video: NYM@NYY: Nimmo gets HBP with bases loaded in the 9th

ROESSLER, CABRERA EJECTED
Unhappy with Larry Vanover's strike zone, Mets hitting coach Pat Roessler began barking at the home-plate umpire after he called Reyes out on strikes in the third inning. Vanover turned toward the dugout and began yelling back at Roessler, ultimately ejecting him.

Video: NYM@NYY: Roessler tossed from the game in the 3rd

Two innings later, Asdrubal Cabrera slammed his bat to the dirt when third-base umpire Hunter Wendelstedt called him out on a check-swing appeal. As Cabrera verbalized his protest from 90 feet away, Wendelstedt tossed him from the game.

"Everybody wants to win," Callaway said. "Everybody's pumped up for this series. They're grown men and they have to say what they have to say, and they have to do what they have to do. I think they're just fighting, trying to win a game."

Video: NYM@NYY: Cabrera tossed after striking out to end 5th

HE SAID IT
"Familia was a great teammate, a really great person. It's not great to see him go. I really enjoyed having him around this team, and having him come in that ninth inning. It's tough when you have guys around for a while. But we understand it's a business, and that's what's got to happen." -- Matz, on the Mets' trade of closer Jeurys Familia, which they finalized after the game

Video: NYM@NYY: Matz whiffs Sanchez swinging in the 4th

UP NEXT
Fresh off his second career All-Star appearance, Jacob deGrom will open his second half in a Sunday Night Baseball matchup with Masahiro Tanaka at Yankee Stadium. deGrom will put his MLB-leading 1.68 ERA on the line in the 8:05 ET game, facing a Yankees offense that ranks top two in the Majors in home runs, OPS and runs per game.

Anthony DiComo has covered the Mets for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo, Instagram and Facebook.

New York Mets