Yankees Postgame Notebook: Gee a whiz as Mets take Subway sweep
So, that's just what Dillon Gee did on Thursday, allowing one run over 7.1 innings and striking out a career-high 12 en route to a 3-1 Mets win that sent the Yankees to their fifth straight loss.
"I thought his changeup was really effective tonight," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said of Gee after the game. "He was ahead of our hitters all night, and mixed in some curveballs and got some back doors on our left-handed hitters."
"He didn't really leave many balls over the plate; I didn't see much of the other at-bats, but for me, he didn't do that," said Brett Gardner. "Robby (Cano) and I took advantage of some good pitches to hit in the first inning, but we didn't get anything out of it and from there he had his way with us."
Gee certainly did that, as he got himself out of a pair of two on, no out jams in the first two innings, and then paired with Scott Rice and Bobby Parnell to retire the final 20 batters in a row after Robinson Cano's solo homer in the third.
All told, Mets pitchers struck out 14, with Reid Brignac and Travis Hafner both going down three times and the Austin Romine/Ichiro Suzuki combo in the nine hole the only ones to avoid a K on the scorecard.
"When you look up, he was throwing a lot of strikes, and his changeup a lot of times looks like a strike," Girardi said. "That's the bottom line. Our guys were swinging at it and they weren't hitting it."
Of the lineup, Gardner led off the game with a single and Cano was 2-for-4, but Brennan Boesch's second-inning single was the only other hit of the game, and the only other baserunner came courtesy of an error by shortstop Omar Quintanilla.
"It's frustrating. We were out there battling and trying to win a ballgame, we got good pitching again today but didn't do enough to support them," Gardner said. That good pitching came from lefty Vidal Nuno, who Girardi said "pitched another great game for us" in his third start of the season. Nuno allowed just two runs on three hits over six innings, but he made just one mistake - Marlon Byrd's second-inning home run - that ended up costing the Yankees.
"I just left a fastball over the middle; I tried to come in and he took advantage of it," Nuno said of Byrd's home run.
After that homer and a double to catcher Anthony Recker, however, Nuno retired 15 of the final 16 he faced, with Lucas Duda's third inning walk the only blemish.
"It was difficult early, but I was trying to just keep pitching and find a rhythm, and I did," Nuno said.
Despite three strong starts, Nuno appears to be headed back to Triple-A soon - likely when Kevin Youkilis and/or Mark Teixeira are activated but almost certainly by the time Andy Pettitte returns - but he said that thought has never crossed his mind.
"No, it's just day-by-day, that's my mental state, and whatever happens, happens," Nuno said. "I come in here and just pretty much work like I do every day."
Shawn Kelley (1.1 IP, 1 ER, 0 H, 3 K, 1 BB), Boone Logan (0.1 IP, 1 K, 1 IBB), and Joba Chamberlain (1.1 IP, 1 H, 3 K) came in to finish it out and looked impressive for the most part, but by the time Chamberlain allowed the Mets' third run on an infield single by John Buck, the damage was done.
With the loss, the Mets sweep the season series from the Yankees for the first time ever, and did so in true National League fashion. Wednesday's game notwithstanding, Yankees pitching allowed just eight runs total in the other three losses, but the offense scored just one run in each of those three games, and Girardi said that sometimes, these things happen.
"I think whenever you're playing well and you go through a bad streak, you're always a little surprised because you don't know what triggers it," Girardi said. "It just happens, and then you start playing well again and you don't know what triggers that. When you play 162 games, you're going to go through these things. It's no fun when you're going through it, but it always turns."
But, despite the Yankees' lack of plate discipline in the finale, Girardi didn't think it was all a byproduct of his hitters trying to do too much at the plate.
"Hitting can be contagious, and you can struggle. Teams go through it, and you have to find a way to get out of it, but this is part of the game," Girardi said. "The great hitters that hit .300 don't usually have the deep valleys - a lot of times they're really consistent - but guys are going to have some valleys and you just have to find a way to get out of it. It's a byproduct of both (good pitching and mental struggle)."
And as for the history his team was on the business end of this week?
"Well, you know there's a competitive edge on all those guys in that room. It's always hard to lose to your cross-town rivals, and you never want to be on a team that gets swept by your cross town rivals," Girardi said. "Over time, it's gonna happen, but you don't want to be the team that it happens to."