Andy recovers but hurt by 1st-inning 5-spot
The first inning Friday night at Citi Field was a stunning development for Andy Pettitte, who allowed five runs, which was the total he had yielded in his previous two starts covering 13 innings. Both were no-decisions, by the way, which Andy might have settled for again if the Yankees could get back in the game.
The five spot in the first put the Yankees in a decided hole and not surprisingly all the runs were scored after two were out. This has been a Mets specialty this season. They lead the majors in two-out runs. Their first-inning uprising brought the season total of two-out runs to 155.
The Mets had the bases loaded with one out, but it looked like Pettitte would work out of danger when he got Lucas Duda on a fly to shallow center. Justin Turner turned back a 1-2 sinker for a single through the middle that scored two runs. The real killer blow came on the next pitch, a hanging slider on Pettitte’s first delivery to Ike Davis, who popped a three-run home run to right field.
That was a crusher for Pettitte, who allowed insult to injury by later in the inning giving up a single to opposing pitcher Jonathan Niese, although Pettitte would return the favor the next inning.
Two weekends ago when the Yankees were out-homering the Mets, 8-2, in the Bombers’ sweep of the first round of the Subway Series, a lot of people around the Mets complained about the cheapness of home runs to right field at Yankee Stadium. Well, the homer by Davis was just as much a bargain-basement job.
In fact, the ball was almost caught by Nick Swisher. The right fielder leaped at the wall near the 330-foot mark for the ball that hit against the thumb of his glove and fell over the fence when his glove hand made contact with the top of the wall. So who’s talking cheap now?
Davis, who has shown recent signs of coming out of a season-long slump, was hitting only .121 at Citi Field this year before that at-bat but over his past 12 games overall has hit .382 with three home runs and 14 RBI in 34 at-bats. As horrid as Davis has been this year, his 36 RBI are only three behind David Wright, who is hitting over .350.
It was also Davis’ first career at-bat against Pettitte, who was retired last year. Davis broke into the majors in 2010 but did not face Pettitte. Mets manager Terry Collins loaded his lineup with right-handed hitters against the lefty Pettitte except for Davis, Duda and, of course, Niese. Andy caught a break with Jason Bay on the disabled list because of a concussion. Bay is a .400 hitter in 35 career at-bats against Pettitte.
Before the series, Collins said Citi Field would play different from Yankee Stadium as far as home runs were concerned. That was probably wishful thinking. Citi Field was an airline hangar for three seasons before the Mets got wise and brought in the fences the past offseason to make the yard fairer to hitters. It is by no means a bandbox, but the Yankees have proved they can hit home runs anywhere.
This was demonstrated by Alex Rodriguez, who got the Yankees on the board in the sixth by driving a 1-1 cutter into the Big Apple well over the 408-foot mark in straightaway center for his 12th home run of the season and career No. 641.
Leading off the seventh, Andruw Jones, who gave the Mets fits for years in his heyday with the Braves, launched his seventh home run into the left field stands beyond the old dimensions. Jones also made one of the fielding gems of the night, a diving catch in left field in the seventh that became a double play as Wright, who had doubled in a run, kept running and was forced out at second.
Pettitte was lifted for a pinch hitter in the seventh after having settled in nicely after the first-inning debacle. He pitched five scoreless innings after that with only two hits allowed, no walks and six strikeouts.