Tuesday, June 13, 2023

Subway Series: First Stop At Citi Field On Tuesday Night


Photo by Jason Schott.

The first installment of this season's Subway Series starts on Tuesday night at Citi Field, as the Yankees and Mets will play two games in Queens, with the first pitch of both at 7:10 p.m. They reconvene for a pair at Yankee Stadium in six weeks, on July 25 and 26.

Max Scherzer (5-2, 3.71 ERA) will take the mound for the Mets against Luis Severino (0-1, 5.75 ERA), who will make his fifth start of the season for the Yankees. 

Wednesday night will feature a pair of aces, as the Yankees will send Gerrit Cole (7-1, 2.84 ERA) to the mound against the Mets' Justin Verlander, who is 2-3 with a 4.85 ERA since he made his season debut on May 4. The first pitch of both games is 7:10 p.m.

The Yankees enter with a record of 38-29, and until the past week, they were one of the hottest teams in baseball. They were 15-15 on May 1 before they won 21 of their next 31 games. 

That run went until the end of the Yankees' series in Los Angeles against the Dodgers a week ago, in which they won two out of three games, but lost Aaron Judge, as he suffered an injury to his big toe after a miraculous catch in which he crashed into the bullpen fence in the game on Saturday, June 3. Judge is hitting .291 with 19 home runs and 40 RBI in 49 games this season.

The Yankees placed Judge on the injured list on Tuesday, and their lineup has taken a big hit, which led them to dropping four out of six games on their recent homestand - two of three to the Chicago White Sox, followed by the Boston Red Sox also taking two of three over the weekend.

The Yankees are nine games behind the Tampa Bay Rays (48-21) in the American League East, and if the season ended today, they would have the second wild card spot.

Meanwhile, the Mets have had a very stop-start season that has yet to catch fire, and at this point, feels like it's screeching to a halt.

The Mets had a tough first six weeks of the season before they appeared to get things on track with five straight wins over the Tampa Bay Rays and Cleveland Guardians from May 17-21. 

They had no follow-through off of those wins, most of which were stirring comebacks, as they lost four of six on the road to the Chicago Cubs and Colorado Rockies. 

The Mets returned home on May 30, and swept the Philadelphia Phillies to improve to 30-27.

Since then, they have gone off the rails, as they have lost eight of their last nine games - they were swept to the Toronto Blue Jays at Citi Field (June 2-4), followed by coughing up leads in three games in Atlanta and being swept by the Braves (June 6-8), and losing two of three to the Pittsburgh Pirates over the weekend.

That has left the Mets with a record of 31-35, in fourth place in the National League East, nine games behind the Braves (40-26).

The Mets are also without their best hitter, first baseman Pete Alonso, who is out with a wrist injury after being hit by a pitch in Atlanta, and is expected to be out for a month. Alonso has a Major League-leading 22 home runs, with 49 RBI, which is sixth-most, while he has an .872 OPS (on-base plus slugging percentage), while his average has dipped to .231 from .271 last season.

On Monday, the Mets signed former Yankees first baseman Luke Voit to a minor-league deal in the hopes that he can pick up the slack at first base and, possibly, designated hitter, where Daniel Vogelbach continues to struggle.

The Mets missed out on a reunion with 2015 playoff hero Daniel Murphy, as the Los Angeles Angels signed him to a minor-league deal on Monday. Murphy played for the Mets from 2008-15, and he last played in the Major Leagues in 2020. He returned for Old Timers Day at Citi Field last season, and that rekindled his fire, which led him to latch on with the Long Island Ducks this season before this news on Monday.


Yankees Manager Aaron Boone:

On if he gets excited about the Subway Series: “Yes! You know, we’ve had a lot of series lately that, you know, I’ve kind of answered it similarly, you know, we were just in L.A. (to play the Dodgers) for the first time; there’s just a buzz in the 162 (game schedule), that there’s just a little juice behind that. I think playing your crosstown rivals, there’s a little extra to that. You know, we play the Red Sox over the weekend, starting to feel like summer, there’s something to that, so year, I do, I enjoy it.”

On if Hal Steinbrenner is putting as much importance on these games as his father, George, did: “I think he wants to beat the Mets, but Hal’s also very measured and, you know, I appreciate my relationship with Hal and his interest and the questions he asks and wants to know about things. I think he does it different than George did, obviously, but I think he’ll be excited if we walk out here with some victories, to say the least.”

He was then asked by Brooklyn Digest if he could see a day, with all the changes in baseball, that the Yankees and Mets will be part of the same division or league: “Oh, you never know! You never know, I saw (veteran baseball executive) Jim Bowden had some realignment ideas, so you never know. When expansion hits and we get to that 32 teams, there could be realignment that goes with that, so never say never, but that’s for people above my pay grade.”

Mets Manager Buck Showalter: 

On if Mets Owner Steve Cohen puts any extra emphasis on these games, like Yankees owner George Steinbrenner would when Buck managed in The Bronx: “I haven’t met many more competitive people than Steve - he wants to win every game, and wants to do everything possible to help from his capacity, so I’ve said many times, I know you get tired hearing it, but it’s important to our fans, and it’s important to our players. That’s where I know, Mr. Steinbrenner, we had to beat the Red Sox in the spring, we had to beat the Mets.”

On how important it would be to beat the Yankees knowing the current state of his team, Buck said, “I think that’s something for someone else to weigh in on. I think it’s just not good to have somebody say, ‘if this happens, this is over,’ or if something good happens, that means this is going to happen’ because it’s just not reality, you know. I think leadership among players and coaches and managers is about defining reality. You know, it’s important and we’re going to try like heck to win, but they don’t stop the season after, you know. We’ve got a lot of opportunities to strengthen our season.”

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