Yankees-Mets: Russell Martin's Walk-Off Homer Completes Sweep of Subway Series
It was fitting, then, that the series would end on a home run to win the game for the Yanks. Entering Sunday's game, Joe Girardi's squad had taken the previous two from the Mets and were looking for the sweep.
Facing off was a battle of two left-handers—Andy Pettitte for the Yankees and Jonathan Niese for the Mets.
The Mets were able to get to Pettitte in the second inning, starting with an RBI single by Vinny Rottino that made it 1-0. Three batters later, Jordany Valdespin hit a two-run double that put the Mets up 3-0, and it was looking like the Mets might chase Pettitte early in the game.
After walking Andres Torres to load the bases, Pettitte came back to strike out Jason Bay and David Wright to prevent a blowout inning and keep the Yankees close.
Niese was pitching very well and was able to keep the Bronx Bombers off balance for the better part of the game.
Following the third inning, Pettitte settled down, really got the strikeout pitch going and did not allow another run to score.
In the top of the sixth, Scott Hairston hit a grounder that Pettitte fielded with his bare hand, making the out at first. The Yankees training staff took a look at Pettitte's hand, and on the TV you could see the hand shaking a bit.
Pettitte insisted on continuing and finished the inning by striking out Lucas Duda and getting Vinny Rottino to fly out to right.
Pettitte came out of the game after six innings, allowing five hits, three runs, walking two and striking out eight.
Down 3-0 at his exit, Pettite was ineligible for the win, though still in danger of the loss column.
Niese held the Yankees offense down until the bottom of the seventh, when Russell Martin connected on a two-run home run to right field to make it a 3-2 score. Niese retired after the inning, going seven solid innings, allowing seven hits, two runs, one walk and six strikeouts.
In the bottom of the eighth inning, the Yankees were able to get to Bobby Parnell, as Mark Teixeira ripped an RBI single to tie the game at 3-3.
The very next batter, Alex Rodriguez got an RBI single off an infield hit to score Curtis Granderson and give the Yankees the go-ahead lead at 4-3.
In the top of the ninth, Rafael Soriano blew his first save as the Yankees closer this season, when Ike Davis hit a pinch-hit RBI double to score Duda and tie the game at 4-4.
In the bottom of the ninth, the Mets sent Jon Rauch to the mound, and Martin crushed a fastball into the left-field seats for a walk-off home run to give the Yanks the 5-4 victory over their Subway Series rivals.
With the sweep of the series, the Yankees were able to stay within a half-game of the AL East-leading Tampa Bay Rays.
Both starters pitched very well in this game. And for both of them, it came down to one bad inning for each.
For Pettitte, his only rough inning was the second, as he really pitched well the rest of the game on 95 pitches. The veteran southpaw is not known as a strikeout pitcher, but in 2012, he's been just that for the Bombers.
For Niese, the only major mistake he made was the home run to Martin—otherwise, Niese was very good in shutting down the Yankees offense. The Yankees had several chances to get to Niese, and he didn't back down or buckle.
It was good to see that the Yankees were able to get some situational hitting in the bottom of the eighth, with Teixeira and A-Rod coming up with much-needed hits.
Now, with the Yankees playing the Braves, and the Mets playing the Rays, both teams and their fans will now be rooting for the other to beat their division rivals.
In two weeks, the second part of the Subway Series will take place, this time at Citi Field.
Following this series, interleague play continues. The Atlanta Braves will play host to the Bombers at Turner Field, and the two teams that played in the 1996 and 1999 World Series will kick off a three-game set down in Atlanta.
Ivan Nova is scheduled to take the mound for the Yankees, while Randall Delgado will pitch for Atlanta.
Interleague baseball is in full swing for the Bombers, and it'll be interesting to see where the Yankees are in two weeks when they square off against the Mets again.
Stay tuned, Yankees Universe.
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