Starling Marte walked the Mets off to a Subway Series sweep, lining a game-winning single to left field to drive in Eduardo Escobar in the bottom of the ninth for the game-winning run off Wandy Peralta in a 3-2 triumph on Wednesday night at Citi Field.
Escobar led the bottom of the ninth off with a line-drive double to left field and moved to third on a Tomas Nido sacrifice bunt to set the scene and ultimately lift the Mets (61-37) to erase any evidence of a late-inning squandering by reliever David Peterson.
“I was just looking for a high pitch just so I could try to hit a fly ball,” Marte said of his approach with Escobar standing 90 feet from home. “He left a changeup up and that’s what I was able to do.”
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This was nothing new for Marte, though, as he leads Major League Baseball in walk-off hits over the last eight seasons.
“We like playing in situations like that because we know how to control the game and control our at-bats,” Marte said. “Luckily, we were able to win the game.”
After Max Scherzer valiantly gutted out seven scoreless innings — on his 38th birthday no less — to protect a 2-0 Mets advantage, Peterson lost it all in just five pitches. After walking Anthony Rizzo to lead off the top of the eighth inning, Gleyber Torres cracked a first-pitch, opposite-field home run to tie things up.
“You want to come to the park and get a win,” Scherzer said. “That’s all I wanted for my birthday so that’s what we got.”
Reliever Seth Lugo managed to see things out, though, striking out two in the eighth and getting through the top of the ninth to earn the win.
Scherzer lowered his season ERA to 2.09 on the season by allowing just five runs with six strikeouts while navigating an abundance of traffic and trouble — especially his third strikeout of Yankees slugger Aaron Judge on the night with two outs and runners on first and third in the seventh.
“He didn’t handle him… you just try to contain him,” Mets manager Buck Showalter said of Scherzer’s performance against Judge. “You knew they were going to make a run, just when Max needed to make a pitch, he made it.
“I love a guy, at 38, who has done the things he’s done… and still has that zest and love and competing at the best level in the world.”
Yankees starter Domingo German fared much better in his second start of the season after allowing five earned runs in three innings of work in his debut on July 21 against the Houston Astros. The righty went 4.2 innings, allowing two runs on five hits while striking out seven, but he was still saddled with the loss as his offense could muster little momentum against Scherzer.
Pete Alonso put the Mets on top in the first inning when he lined his 26th home run of the season just over the left-field wall — a solo shot that extended his MLB lead to 84 RBI on the season.
The shot was also his 132nd career home run, tying him with Michael Conforto for seventh in franchise history.
Scherzer encountered some trouble in the third when he allowed singles to Aaron Hicks and DJ LeMahieu — setting the table for Judge with two outs in the frame. But the birthday boy prevailed, getting the Yankees’ slugger to fan on a slider that dropped out of the zone to keep the Mets’ lead intact.
“Fortunately enough I was able to execute against him when I needed to and was able to get some big outs when I needed to,” Scherzer said.
Francisco Lindor gave Scherzer a bit more insurance with a two-out single that drove home Tomas Nido, who led off the bottom of the third with a double. But the Mets left a major chance on the table in the fourth when they failed to bring a run home following a pair of singles from Daniel Vogelbach and Mark Canha to lead off the frame.
Scherzer continued to put up zeroes, though, working around a lead-off Josh Donaldson double in the fifth to get out unscathed. He struck out Hicks and Isaiah Kiner-Falefa before Lindor snagged a liner off the bat of LeMahieu.
At that point, the Yankees had gone 0-for-13 with runners in scoring position while stranding 16 on-base over the first 15 innings of the Subway Series.
“It’s just about execution,” Scherzer said. “Not giving in in those situations. They hit a couple balls hard at people. Fortunate enough we had guys right there. Other times I made big pitches when I needed to.”
That number got even worse in the seventh when Kiner-Falefa doubled and moved to third on a sacrifice fly before LeMahieu walked to set up the final showdown of the night between Scherzer and Judge. It took just five pitches — which was the same amount of pitches it took to strike Judge out in his previous two turns at bat — and was capped off by a devastating slider that dropped to the bottom of the zone to get the Bronx’s No. 99 flailing.
“This was fun,” Scherzer said. “This was for bragging rights of New York. They’re a great team, they have a great lineup, and it’s fun to compete in an atmosphere like this.”
Judge had one more chance to put the Yankees ahead in the ninth with LeMahieu on first, but he grounded out to an inning-ending fielder’s choice as Lugo was able to close the door for the Mets.
“Really good,” Showalter said of Lugo’s performance. “That was about as sharp [as he was] in a high intensity, leverage situation… that was as good as we wanted to see him pitch.”