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Yankees Postgame Notebook: Subway Slugfest leaves Yankees in early series hole

05/13/2014 12:39 AM ET
By Lou DiPietro

Brett Gardner's grand slam in the second put the Yankees on the board Monday night.(AP)
If Game 1 is any indication, then this year's Subway Series is going to be exponentially different, at least scoring-wise, than the 2013 version -- but the New York Yankees hope the tide eventually changes in the win-loss ledger too, as Monday's 9-7 loss in the 2014 opener gave the New York Mets their fifth straight win against their cross-town rivals.

To say it was a see-saw game would be an understatement as the game featured runs scored in six of the nine innings, multiple lead changes and, in the end, the Yankees failing to capitalize on a couple of big opportunities.

On the mound, Hiroki Kuroda wasn't sharp, but he kept the Yankees in it, allowing four runs on seven hits with no walks and three strikeouts in six innings. The Yankees needed the distance with a depleted bullpen, but he was victimized by the long ball, with Travis d'Arnaud smacking a hanging slider for a solo shot in the fifth that made it 4-2, and Curtis Granderson hitting a 3-0 "get-me-over" fastball over the fence in the sixth to tie the game.

"I was trying to hang in there, but the sixth inning is something I should've avoided," Kuroda said through his interpreter after the game. "The two home runs I allowed sort of led to this result. Obviously the home runs change the momentum of the game. I thought there was a chance (Granderson) might swing 3-0, but because I was behind and in bad counts, I was in a bad position."

Kuroda's offense picked him up and gave him a 7-4 lead after six to leave him as the winning pitcher of record, but the depleted Yankees bullpen was unable to hold it. With Shawn Kelley unavailable because of lingering back soreness and Girardi wanting to stay away from Dellin Betances and Adam Warren because of recent workload, the skipper had to use Alfredo Aceves -- a candidate to start in place of CC Sabathia on Thursday -- in the seventh and trust both Preston Claiborne and Matt Thornton in unusual roles late in a close game.

It didn't work as he hoped, as the bullpen allowed five runs over the final three frames and blew the lead for good in the eighth, when Chris Young's two-run homer gave the Mets their final advantage.

"Yeah, we really struggled today, and we didn't make pitches," Girardi said. "I think they scored eight runs in those last four innings, although it wasn't all the bullpen. We didn't have some guys that we usually use, and we asked some guys to do some things they don't usually do and it backfired."

"Our bullpen has pitched good for us all year," Derek Jeter added in the relief corps' defense, with Brian McCann saying that "these guys have been pitching great and I feel like they've been throwing the ball well, but it's baseball. You play 162 of these games, and nights like tonight are going to happen."

As for the offense, a few players had great days, including Brett Gardner (2-for-5 with a grand slam) and Jeter (3-for-4 with a walk), but despite the numbers saying they got seven runs on 14 hits, the biggest offensive miscue was not taking advantage of opportunities.

All in all, the Yankees were 3-for-10 with runners in scoring position -- with two of those hits being Gardner's slam and Yangervis Solarte's earlier single that loaded the bases -- and got all seven of their runs in two fell swoops.

"We'd have liked to have won this game, especially having the lead late," Jeter said. "But the Mets battled back and we didn't score runs."

They had one last chance, though, in the ninth. Jeter led off with a walk, and after Jacoby Ellsbury (who was 0-for-5 but made a nice catch in left-center field) flew out, a limited Mark Teixeira came up to pinch-hit for DH John Ryan Murphy -- who himself had pinch-hit for Carlos Beltran in the seventh after Beltran hyperextended his elbow hitting in the cage between at-bats.

Teixeira, who didn't start because of lingering soreness in his legs, roped a ball into the right-field corner for a single, putting runners on first and third with one out in a situation where, if he was healthy, he may have turned it into a double.

"I felt alright, obviously I wasn't very fast, but I was under orders not to bust it. I was there to put the ball in the seats or at least get on base, and I knew I was getting pinch-run for," Teixeira said. "If the ball wasn't going to go right back to (Granderson), I'd have kept going. But, even if I'm 100 percent, with the way the ball went right back to him, he has a good arm in right field, so if I get thrown out at second base, that's not a good play."

That ended up potentially costing the Yankees, as the next batter, Brian McCann, grounded into a game-ending 3-5-3 double play that Joe Girardi came out to discuss with the umpires but let stand.

"Just making sure. I thought he was out but you never know," the skipper said.

It was extra disappointing for McCann, who was 1-for-5 on the night to drop his average down to .213.

"Off the bat that felt good, but it didn't find a hole. You run down to first and they turn a double play," McCann said. "I feel okay at the plate, but it comes and goes and the results aren't there. This is a results-oriented business, and I'm not getting it done."

At least there is always tomorrow, but what kind of limited roster Girardi has remains to be seen.

"You just have to find a way, and people have to step up," he said. "Tex did a good job and obviously you could see he wasn't running at full speed tonight. We should get Betances back tomorrow and hopefully Kelley, and we'll just have to wait and see what have on Beltran and we'll go from there."

A few other notes from Game 1 of the 2014 Subway Series:

-The injury bug hit again when Beltran was removed, making that six players on the active roster who were either unavailable, limited or removed from the game on Monday. It's a tough situation, but as Jeter reiterated, the Yankees have to find a way to fight through it: "Guys just have to step up, that's the bottom line. We have no choice. Teams deal with injuries throughout the year, you want to stay healthy but that's not the case. We need contributions from a lot of different guys."

-Teixeira said he felt good, and that he wasn't a concern for tomorrow: "I'm playing tomorrow no matter what. You hate to see guys not feeling good, but I'm out there tomorrow no matter what. This was a precautionary day to see if it would help; I didn't get a full one, but by the fifth inning I started getting loose and got it cranked up again because I knew I might have to pinch hit. It felt good swinging, and felt good coming out of the box, I just wasn't going to be able to bust it around the bases."

-Teixeira on the injury front: "That's what happens to older guys. You get bumps and bruises, and that's the unfortunate part of getting old. But we have a very deep team, with a bunch of guys who are chomping at the bit to get at-bats. We have All-Stars on the bench, and we'll fill in where we need to fill in. Guys that are bumped and bruised will get a day here and there, and we'll get back at it."

-Alfonso Soriano's second-inning single made him the seventh player to notch 1,000 hits in both the American and National Leagues, and with that hit he became the first to have 1,000 hits, 500 runs, 500 RBI, 100 homers and 100 steals in each leagues.

-Last word goes to Girardi, with his response when asked if the injury situation of late has given him any flashbacks to 2013: "I can't say that I have. Someone brought it up to me, and it seems like this year it's our pitchers more than our position players, but they seem to catch up pretty quick in one day. It's similar to last year in that we're losing players for substantial periods of time, but this time, it's pitchers. Position players have been more day-t-day, in a sense…but people just have to step up, and you have to find a way."

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