Noah Raspler, Contributing Writer
From September 18-20, the Mets and the Yankees opened up a three-game series against each other for their last regular season matchup. This was the first time the two teams have played a meaningful series against each other in, well, a very long time. With both teams in a pennant race, and the end of the regular season in sight, this Subway Series had an unusual added edge.
On September 18, Mets rookie Steven Matz, opened up the series and outpitched Yankees ace, Masahiro Tanaka. Matz looked a bit unnerved right from the start, walking leadoff hitter Brett Gardner and surrendering a sacrifice fly to Chris Young. In the second inning, Matz gave up two more hits and needed to throw a combined 43 pitches. Matz held the Yankees scoreless for the next four innings while giving up just three singles. Homers by Daniel Murphy, Lucas Duda, and Juan Uribe helped power the Mets past the Yankees. Tanaka lasted six innings, giving up just two runs and five hits. The Yankees came to life and loaded the bases in the ninth, but Mets closer, Jeurys Familia, was able to close the door and seal the victory.
On the mound for the Mets in Game Two was rookie flamethrower, Noah Syndergaard, and pitcher, Michael Pineda, for the Yankees. Jacoby Ellsbury and Gardner led off the game with singles to right-center. Former Mets star, Carlos Beltran, wasted no time blasting a 3-run homerun off a sizzling 100 MPH fastball from Syndergaard. The game was quiet until the top of the sixth inning when catcher Brian McCann tacked on two more runs with another homerun, making it 5-0 Yankees. Pineda has struggled after recently coming off of a one-month stint on the disabled list caused by a right forearm strain. However, he pitched marvelously, allowing just four singles over 5 1/3 innings and secured only his second victory since the All-Star break in July.
Matt Harvey took the mound for the Mets against Yankees pitcher, C.C. Sabathia, for the final game in the three-game series. The Mets held a 1-0 lead into the fifth inning. Harvey pitched masterfully, throwing a five-inning shutout. However, he was pulled from the game after the fifth due to his innings limit. The Mets have every reason to be angry over his early exit because it definitely cost them this game. The Mets’ bullpen imploded, giving up 11 runs over the rest of the game, ending the game with a final score of 11-2 in favor of the Yankees.
On September 26, at precisely 7:08 p.m., the Mets clinched their first playoff spot in nine years and claimed the National League East division crown. With the regular season coming to an end, the Mets need to turn their attention to the postseason, particularly to their pitching. Harvey, Jacob deGrom, and Syndergaard have been confirmed to pitch in the National League Division Series. However, if a Game Four were necessary, the likely candidate to pitch is Matz. Where does that leave Jon Niese and 42 year old Bartolo Colon? Niese will most likely be sent to the bullpen, but Colon should also get some consideration. He brings something to the table that none of the other starters have – ten postseason starts. The other starters have a whopping total of zero postseason starts combined. The Mets need to stay within themselves, play loose baseball, do what they have been doing all year, and the wins will come. It definitely won’t be easy, but Mets fans are excited for the chance to hold onto their seats and finally go along for a postseason ride.
For the New York Yankees, it’s a different story. The Bronx Bombers seem to be headed for a do-or-die Wild Card playoff game for the first time in franchise history. “I think it’s still too early, because nothing’s decided yet,” manager Joe Girardi said when asked about who the American League Wild Card game starter would be. There are two factors to take into account. Tanaka seems to have the starting spot, but it depends on if his arm is healthy enough to pitch. It also depends on who the Yankees end up playing. If the Minnesota Twins were to come into town, that would bode well for the Yankees. The Twins have a long losing history against the Yankees, and their best starter, Ervin Santana, is ineligible for the postseason because of a drug suspension in April. The Houston Astros would likely bring in potential American League Cy Young winner, Dallas Keuchel, who recently threw seven shutout innings against the Yankees. The Los Angeles Angels factor in somewhere as well. If the Yankees players and Tanaka’s arm remain healthy enough, then they have a good chance to win. However, facing the right opponent will really determine the Yankees chances of getting past the WildCard round.