Slugging Mets beat Yanks at their own game
C. Young's eighth-inning homer, club's fourth, brings lead for good
NEW YORK -- When the Mets fell into an early three-run deficit on Monday night at Yankee Stadium, their hitters began chirping on the dugout bench. They told each other that the game was not over. Not in this park, anyway.
This was not Citi Field, where hard-hit shots go to die at the warning track and fearsome sluggers slip into early retirement. This was Yankee Stadium, where anything seems possible.
"I'm not sure the attitude's different," Mets third baseman David Wright said. "But the reality is."
It was a welcome alternate reality on Monday night for the Mets. Spurning their reputation as a pitching-rich, offensively challenged club, Wright's team outslugged its interborough rival in a 9-7 Subway Series victory. Four home runs, capped by Chris Young's go-ahead two-run shot in the eighth, allowed the Mets to win their fifth straight game over the Bombers through a show of brute force.
"You know in this ballpark the game's never over," Wright said. "There's no lead that's safe here."
Though the Mets never seemed completely out of this one, their recent history -- an average of 2.3 runs per game in their six prior contests -- suggested they would not keep pace once the Yankees were done bludgeoning Bartolo Colon for seven runs (six earned). But after pinch-hitter Eric Campbell doubled off Matt Thornton with one out in the eighth, Lucas Duda completed the comeback with a broken-bat RBI single.
Young followed with his two-run blast off Preston Claiborne, giving the Mets their first lead since the first inning.
"You naturally never give up," Young said. "You never feel like you're out of it. Especially in a ballpark like this, you know there can be a big inning at any moment for either side."
It is a luxury as well as a perpetual fear. After starter-turned-reliever Jenrry Mejia nursed the Mets' fledgling lead with four sharp outs in his bullpen debut, the Yankees nearly stormed back against closer Kyle Farnsworth in the ninth. Walking Derek Jeter to open the inning, Farnsworth subsequently served up a booming flyout to Jacoby Ellsbury and a bullet single off the right-field wall to pinch-hitter Mark Teixeira.
That brought up Brian McCann, who ripped a hard-hit grounder to the right side. Duda, the first baseman, dove to his right, gloved it and fired to Wright, who was covering second base due to a defensive overshift. Wright then relayed it back to Duda, nipping McCann at the bag to end things.
"He hit the ball pretty hard and I just got lucky," Duda said. "I stuck my glove out, and that was it."
Colon's struggles stemmed largely from Brett Gardner's grand slam in the second. After McCann, Alfonso Soriano and Yangervis Solarte singled in succession to open the inning, Colon carved a potential path out of the jam with a strikeout and a lineout. But Gardner followed with a slam to right-center, giving the Yankees an early three-run lead.
Colon cruised through the next three innings before slamming smack into trouble again in the sixth, when Solarte singled home Soriano and Kelly Johnson tripled in Solarte. A seventh Yankees run came home on catcher Travis d'Arnaud's throwing error, digging the Mets into the type of hole from which they are not accustomed to escaping.
Yet the Mets did just that, tagging Yankees starter Hiroki Kuroda for a d'Arnaud solo homer and a Curtis Granderson two-run shot, as well as a Wright RBI groundout in six innings. Then, in the seventh, Eric Young took advantage of Yankee Stadium's dimensions by lining a two-run blast into the short porch in right, drawing the Mets back within one.
"The two home runs I allowed led to this kind of result, I think," Kuroda said. "Obviously the home runs change momentum at the end, so we have to be careful."
That was the Mets' hope-turned-reality. They had not slugged four home runs in a game in more than a year, and their hitters readily admitted that the stadium had much to do with it. The Mets understand that pitching -- particularly starting pitching, unless Mejia changes the narrative -- and outfield defense are still their primary strengths, and that their own home ballpark augments both of them.
But hitting is fun for them, and the Mets certainly enjoyed Monday's alternate reality in an unfamiliar corner of New York City.
"A home run's a lot more likely here than our ballpark," Wright said. "That three-run lead is not safe here. A couple swings of the bat, and it's a tied game. We showed that tonight. They seemed like they had pretty good control of what was going on, but you blink and we score three."