(Long Island, NY) Things seemed bleak for the Yankees prior to the third game of this year’s installment of the Subway Series. The Mets took the first two and had one of their top starters, John Maine, going against 22 year-old Tyler Clippard, who was making his major league debut. But no one came out and told Clippard.
The young righty pitched six innings of one-run ball, surrendering only three hits while striking out six Mets and walking three. He earned his first career win with the Yankees salvaging the last game of the weekend set, 6-2.
David Wright put the Mets on the board first in the bottom of the second inning with a solo home run to left field. But Clippard avoided any further damage by inducing Jose Reyes to fly out with the bases loaded.
In the top of the fourth, the Yankees took advantage of two walks by Maine. Clippard successfully sacrificed two runners over in only his second at-bat in the majors. That led to a two-run double by Johnny Damon and Derek Jeter answered that with a two-run home run. By the time it was all said and done, a slim lead turned into a 4-1 deficit for the Mets.
An inning later, Jorge Posada blasted a Maine change-up into the Mets bullpen to extend the Yankees advantage to four runs. Reyes then made a diving stop in the hole on a grounder by Robinson Cano, but the Yankee second sacker beat the throw. The inning ended when Paul Lo Duca threw Robinson out attempting to steal.
Alex Rodriguez greeted Mets reliever Ambiorix Burgos with a laser into the Flushing night that traveled an estimated 390 feet, making the score 6-1 Yankees in the top of the seventh.
Damian Easley hit a solo home run off Yankees’ closer Mariano Rivera in the ninth, but that was a too little, too late.
It’s hard to call a game in the middle of May a ‘must-win.’ But in Yankee-land, this was pretty close. Prior to the game, Yankees manager Joe Torre commented on speaking to owner George Steinbrenner before Saturday’s 10-7 loss to the Mets. “It was all supportive. That means a lot to me.” He also said that the Yankees’ recent slide has been “the toughest stretch that we’ve gone through.”
Torre felt confident throwing the young Clippard out there in a national game. “He [Clippard] really impressed us in the spring. You look in someone’s eyes and you can tell what type of personality they have.”
That seemed to be a sign of things to come as Clippard not only impressed with his pitching, but with the bat, as well. He doubled into the right-centerfield gap off Mets reliever Scott Schoeneweis for his first major league hit.
“This was the first time I hit in a game in like four and a half years. Since high school,” said a beaming Clippard in the winning clubhouse after the game. He had the game ball on the top shelf of his locker, sure to be a life-long souvenir.
Clippard’s strong showing convinced Wright. “He threw the ball well for a young guy,” said the Mets third baseman. “I was impressed. He had a live fastball with a herky-jerky motion. He was throwing strikes.”
Although the Mets dropped this game, rightfielder Shawn Green chose to look at the positive side. “Going into Atlanta [three-game series starting on Tuesday], it was big for us to take this series.”
Not as big as the Yankees getting a much-needed win.