At least for a few days, the baseball order in New York has been reversed.
Some might have predicted a Subway Series sweep — but by the Yankees, not the Mets.
Instead, Dillon Gee finished off the first sweep by the upstarts from Queens over their older, more-renowned rival, which couldn’t have come at a more unexpected time.
Gee struck out a career-high 12 and limited the Yankees to four hits over 7 1-3 innings in a 3-1 victory Thursday night that completed the Mets’ four-game smothering of their famous foe from the Bronx.
”It’s always fun to win this series, especially for our fans,” Mets captain David Wright said. ”It gives our fans some bragging rights.”
Marlon Byrd had a two-run, second-deck homer in the second off rookie Vidal Nuno (1-2), John Buck hit a slow-rolling RBI single off third base in the eighth and Gee made that stand up with a start that may have saved his job.
”You’re playing as hard as you always do, but you know it’s something special for the fans,” Byrd said. ”We can’t go on the road and let up. We have to keep going hard, like we did here.”
The Yankees were outscored 16-7 in the sweep and went 5 for 23 (.218) with runners in scoring position. Mets starters were 4-0 with a 1.91 ERA.
”Does it mean any more that it’s against the Yankees? Had we been playing better, yeah, it would have been huge. But right now we’ve just got to win some games, and it didn’t matter who it was,” Mets manager Terry Collins said. ”It establishes a mood in the clubhouse that, you know what, we’re not that bad.”
Since the start of interleague play in 1997, the only Subway Series sweep had been by the Yankees, when they went 6-0 in 2003.
”It’s hard when you lose to your crosstown rivals,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. ”You don’t want to be part of a team that gets swept by your crosstown rivals. Over time, it’s going to happen, but you don’t want to be the team that it happens to.”
The Yankees began the week leading the AL East at 30-20. And the Mets, who had never won four straight over the Yankees, were fourth in the NL East at 18-29.
But the Mets extended a winning streak to five for the first time since May 5-9 last year. And the Yankees have lost five in a row in a single season for the first time since a six-game slide May 11-16, 2011.
Collins had challenged his team.
”I tried everything that I knew to try and it wasn’t working: the pats on the back, the `hang with them,”’ he said. ”So you just had to say, `Hey look, it’s got to be now. It’s got to be stepped up right this minute,’ and they did it.”
Using a sharp slider, pinpoint changeup and a fastball in the upper 80s, Gee (3-6) didn’t go to three balls on a single batter, threw 63 of 88 pitches for strikes and retired his final 15 in a row.
Collins had told him his rotation spot was in jeopardy.
”He said, `Good job’ for once when I came out of the game,” Gee said. ”It’s hard to put into words. I needed that on so many levels it’s crazy.”
The Mets tied a franchise record by going three straight games without allowing a walk, the first time they’ve accomplished the feat since July 5-7, 1994, according to STATS. Yankees batters, usually patient, have gone three games without a free pass for the first time since June 12-14, 1991, when Kevin Maas was their cleanup hitter.
While Gee wasn’t missing the plate, he was missing something: whiskers. Since he pitched against Atlanta last weekend, Gee shaved off his beard and mustache.
He escaped two-on, no-outs trouble in both the first and second innings, and then allowed just one more runner – on Robinson Cano’s one-out homer in the third, his 14th of the year. Gee and his bullpen then retired the Yankees’ last 20 batters.
”He didn’t get many balls over the middle of the plate,” Gardner said.
Scott Rice got the final two outs of the eighth, and Bobby Parnell finished the four-hitter for his ninth save in 11 chances.
Now the Mets just have to play like this the rest of the time.
”It’s a lot more fun to come to the ballpark. Guys are smiling, laughing, having a good time, playing a little more loosely,” Wright said. When you go out there and you feel like you have to play perfect to win games, that’s when you get a little tense and start making some silly mistakes.”
NOTES: The rivals played three games apiece in 1997 and `98, then six regular-season games a year through 2012. The Yankees brushed past the Mets 4-1 in the 2000 World Series for their third straight title. … Quintanilla was brought up from Triple-A to take the roster spot of Ruben Tejada, who went on the DL with a strained right quadriceps. Quintanilla flubbed his first chance, allowing David Adams’ second-inning grounder to roll through his legs. … The Mets said LHP Jonathon Niese will miss his turn Sunday against Miami because of shoulder tendinitis.