The Subway Series was a Subway Sweep. On Wednesday night, Max Scherzer and the New York Mets walked off the crosstown rival New York Yankees to wrap up the quick two-game sweep at Citi Field. . The two New York teams will play another two games at Yankee Stadium next month.
Wednesday's game was a fairly low-scoring event through seven innings. The Mets took a 2-0 lead into the eighth inning, Torres tied it to give the Yankees life, then the Mets strung together three hits in the ninth to walk it off. The Mets have won six of the last eight Subway Series games and 14 of the last 24 dating back to 2018.
The win combined with the Atlanta Braves loss earlier in the day (PHI 7, ATL 2) gives the Mets a three-game lead in the NL East, their largest since July 7. Even with the loss, the Yankees own baseball's best record at 66-33. They are 11 1/2 games up in the AL East.
Here are three things we learned from this installment of the Subway Series.
Alonso lives for big moments
Was this a big series? In the grand scheme of things, not really. It was two games between non-division (non-league) rivals in July. But is sure felt like a big series, big enough that both managers used their closer in the eighth inning at one point. The Citi Field crowd brought postseason intensity and also brought the best out of Pete Alonso, who went 3 for 3 with a double and a walk Tuesday, then opened the scoring with a solo homer Wednesday.
"I've never played in a major-league playoff game before, but if I had to guess, that's what it would be like," Alonso told MLB.com following Tuesday's win.
Alonso went 1 for 3 with the homer and a walk Wednesday, upping the tally to 4 for 7 with a double, a homer, and two walks in the two-game series. Even if it wasn't a "big" series, per se, the lights were bright and the baseball world was paying attention, and Alonso rose to the occasion. He was the star at the plate in the two games.
In fact, the top of the Mets lineup starred in the series. Their 1-2-3-4 hitters -- Brandon Nimmo, Marte, Francisco Lindor, and Alonso -- went a combined 12 for 28 (.429) with three doubles and two homers in the two games. The rest of the Mets went 7 for 38 (.184) with two doubles and a homer.
Scherzer dominated Judge
Birthday boy Max Scherzer -- he turned 38 on Wednesday -- was dominant in his first Subway Series start, striking out six Yankees in seven scoreless innings. He owns a 2.09 ERA in 13 starts this season. The biggest of those six strikeouts was the last, when Scherzer struck out Aaron Judge with two on and two out to end the seventh.
Judge went 0 for 4 with three strikeouts against Scherzer on Wednesday -- he also struck out with two on and two out in the third -- and missed with all six swings he took against his slider. Scherzer totally dominated the AL MVP candidate, if not AL MVP favorite. Judge is now 2 for 10 with six strikeouts against Scherzer in his career.
Sliders were a theme for Scherzer all night -- he threw 30 sliders among his 99 pitches -- and they've been a theme all month. In five July starts, Scherzer has thrown 132 sliders among 466 total pitches, or 28.4 percent. He's throwing his slider far more than ever nowadays. Here is Scherzer's slider rate by month over the last five seasons:
It's always possible the uptick in sliders is a blip -- look at Scherzer's slider rates the previous two months, for example -- but the gradual upward trend over the years suggests this is a veteran pitcher adapting. Adapting to his arsenal (which has aged exceptionally well) and also adapting to modern hitters, who are more likely to swing and miss than they were even five years ago.
Slider or no slider, Scherzer has not missed a beat since returning from his oblique injury earlier this month. He's allowed five runs in five starts since returning and looks no worse for the wear., the Mets will soon have their vaunted 1-2 punch together for the first time. Scherzer was great Wednesday and has been great all year. So have the Mets.
(And, by the way, the six strikeouts Wednesday give Scherzer 41 on his birthday in his career. That is the most all time, passing Hall of Famer Randy Johnson. The Big Unit fanned 39 batters on his birthday, Sept. 10, in his career.)
The Yankees need another starter
This was plainly obvious before the Subway Series, so the past two games just reinforced it. Jordan Montgomery was tagged for five runs (four earned) in 2 1/3 innings Tuesday, then Domingo Germán danced around danger en route to being charged with two runs in 4 1/3 innings Wednesday. Yankees starters now have a 4.31 ERA in June after posting a 3.05 ERA from April through June.
Domingo Germán has allowed 1.77 HR/9 since 2018. That's 2nd-highest in MLB over that span among pitchers with at least 300 IP.— Seth Rothman (@SethDRothman) July 27, 2022
Montgomery's outing was the third time in five games New York's starter failed to throw more than three innings. Five times in 22 games this month the Yankees failed to get more than four innings from their starter. It happened five times in 77 games from April through June, and that includes one opener game that was a short start by design.
"I wanted to be out there, but I sucked," Montgomery told MLB.com after needing 71 pitches to get seven outs Tuesday. "Obviously, I needed to be pulled. But I was ready to throw as many pitches as necessary."
Luis Severino will miss another few weeks with a lat strain and Jameson Taillon and Nestor Cortes will need to have their workloads monitored down the stretch. At minimum, the Yankees need to bring in a depth starter prior to next week's trade deadline to soak up innings in August and September. Ideally they would add an impact starter (hello, Luis Castillo) to be 1B to Gerrit Cole's 1A.