Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Grandy Man Breaks Yank Fans Hearts

Grandy Man Breaks Yank Fans Hearts
Mets Score First Blood in Subway Series 

By Rich Mancuso

BRONX, NEW YORK, MAY 13- Last time we saw these two teams playing each other, the Yankees lost a heart breaker to the Mets at Citi Field. It was mid-May, Mariano Rivera blew the save and the Mets swept the four-game home-and-home series with a walk-off win. It is the Subway Series and that is enough said.

With one-out and a runner on, in the ninth inning of a 9-7 game, Monday night at Yankee Stadium, Brian McCann ended the game with a double play. Lucas Duda got the sharp ball at first base and made the diving stop. The ensuing over-shift got the Ball to David Wright near the left side.

The throw went back to Duda. And the Mets got the first draw in this Subway Series of 2014, the first of two in the Bronx, and two more Wednesday and Thursday night at Citi Field in Flushing. For Mets fans, they feel dominant because their team has won the last five games dating back to that rare blunder by Rivera  

But, there is no more Mariano to save the Yankees. And this is the last time Derek Jeter will be a part of this inter-league series, that is, unless these two teams meet in October. And with the Mets still rebuilding and with many holes to fill, and the Yankees, at a mediocre stage, chances are after Thursday night, Jeter plays his last game against the Mets.

There are those who say, this cross-town series has lost something and it is questioned about four-games on the schedule at a juncture in the season when the Yankees and Mets are still trying to find themselves. The series once the headline is now lost to playoff basketball and hockey that are part of the New York City landscape this May.

But, 46,517 fans at Yankee Stadium will tell you: This series is still meaningful and for baseball supremacy in the Big Apple.

“It was good to come back and get the victory,” said Curtis Granderson. “It’s cool not too many get to do this from the other side,” he said. 

The struggling Granderson, with a .194 average, loved to hit the home run at Yankee Stadium when he played in pinstripes. He became one of five more players this season who have played on both parts of town.

Granderson used Yankee Stadium to his advantage again driving the ball to right off Hiroki Kuroada in the sixth inning. The two-run shot was the first Granderson has hit in his career off a 3-0 count and tied the game 4-4. Just like Brett Gardner who hit a grand slam home run in the second inning that gave the Yankees an early 4-1 advantage.

The Mets would hit four home runs, so Yankee Stadium is definitely a place to get the home run ball going again. Travis d’Arnaud had a solo shot off Kuroda in the third, Eric Young Jr. got the Mets closer in the seventh with a home run to right, his first, and Chris Young also hit a two-run blast to left in the eighth that ended the scoring.   

That power displayed by his team prompted manager Terry Collins to say about the different dimensions of Citi Field to Yankee Stadium “Part of being here. The Chris Young ball is not high enough to get out of our place, I don’t think. This atmosphere creates intensity and it creates focus.”

As things always go in this series, the Granderson return to the Bronx drew some attention. Of course, a contingent of Mets fans from the group “The 7-Line” in a left field second deck gave their loud approval after his home run. It started a buzz again for this Sunway Series in the Bronx.

“Weird coming out the other side…. Especially for this series,” commented Granderson who got his share of boos from the Yankees fans. Recall, Granderson, when signed by the Mets in December said, “True New Yorkers are Mets fans.”

Truth is, the Yankees have owned New York. Mets fans know that and this was just another of the many storylines in this first game. The Mets probably won’t have the town back until they win another championship and the Yankees show a decline.   

Ruben Tejada has been trying to prove he is the player at shortstop for the Mets. His play at shortstop in the third inning, on a ball hit to his right sent him to the dirt. His throw was strong and good enough to Get Alfonso Soriano. “Got the ball to the right, it was a long throw to first,” said Tejada who has played in these games that are intense.

“Part of the game the play, not the series,” he said emphasizing more that he wants that job at shortstop. Collins could insert Tejada back in the spot Tuesday night. The rookie, Wilmer Flores is feeling better but after a play like that, Tejada may be more experienced to handle the Yankees in the Bronx.   

So what else happened Monday night in the Bronx?  Both bullpens could not hold the lead, though the Mets unveiled their potential new closer. Jenrry Mejia spoke to Collins earlier in the day and went with the plan. He came out of the pen and recorded 1.1 scoreless innings, his first relief outing since September of 2012 against the Pirates.

“In this ballpark the game is never over,” said David Wright who made good contact and almost added to the Mets home run parade. “There’s no lead that is safe here.”

Yankees manager Joe Girardi knows that he and his team is battling another injury hex. Three starters in the pitching rotation are injured, as are some position players. Mark Teixeira needed a night off and Soriano got banged up a bit Sunday in Milwaukee. Carlos Beltran left the game in what was described as an injured elbow that was sustained taking some swings in a cage in between bats, and ichiro Suzuki has a bad back.

That goes along with not knowing who will start Thursday night in the series finale at Citi Field because Girardi used Alfredo Aceves in relief. His pen is also taxed and Giardi said, “I was going to use Robertson (David) for a four-out save.”   

But it never came down to Robertson, who now inherits the closer role from Mariano Rivera in this Subway Series. Collins and the Mets may have the advantage because relief is on the way. The young arms, so highly touted, begin to arrive. Rafael Montero will get the start Wednesday night at Citi Field against the 5-0 Masahiro Tanaka.

And, with Mejia as the probable new closer, though Collins would not commit, the other young arm coming from Las Vegas, Jacob deGrom arrives Tuesday night that changes the complexion of a Mets bullpen that has been less than efficient. The days may be over for Kyle Farnsworth who survived because of that game ending double-play and for Jose Valverde.

 Just a part of the spotlight and intensity of a Subway series that is still interesting no matter when it is played. And as always, Jeter did his part with a three-hit game against the Mets.   

Comment Rich Mancuso: Mancuso

Photos by Ken Carozza

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