Yankees Top Mets in Error-Riddled Opener to Subway Series

When Mets leadoff hitter Jeff McNeil lined a fastball from Yankees pitcher Masahiro Tanaka the opposite way in the first inning Tuesday afternoon, it appeared destined to land on a patch of grass in the Yankee Stadium outfield.

But Yankees left fielder Brett Gardner reacted quickly, sprinted to his left, laid out for the ball and made the backhanded catch to record the out.

It was the Yankees’ way of welcoming their crosstown rivals to the Bronx. Though McNeil rebounded to give the Mets a 4-1 lead when he hit a three-run homer on the first pitch of his second at-bat, the Yankees answered with a five-run inning in the bottom of the fourth.

On and on the Yankees went, continuously one-upping the visitors in the opening game of a day-night doubleheader to win, 12-5.

In the first Subway Series of the season, the Yankees (41-24) continued to run on the express tracks with a playoff destination in sight. The Mets (32-34) looked on from the local tracks, gingerly progressing from series to series in a season that may go off the rails any game now.

“We’re not going to give up,” Mets Manager Mickey Callaway said. “We’re going to get to .500, and then we’re going to take off at some point. We’re just going to keep grinding away.”

A day after Monday’s heavy rains forced the teams to play both games of the series on Tuesday, the Yankees beat the Mets in the first game with their replacement roster and less-than-stellar defense.

The Yankees overcame three errors by taking Mets starting pitcher Zack Wheeler deep twice in the fourth inning. Yankees third baseman Gio Urshela struck first when he stroked a two-run homer to tie the game at 4-4. Designated hitter Luke Voit followed suit four batters later with a three-run homer to take a 7-4 lead.

Wheeler only lasted four and two-thirds innings. He yielded 10 hits, and five of the nine runs he allowed were earned. He also threw a wild pitch, and was replaced by reliever Wilmer Font, who proceeded to allow another three hits and an earned run. Tim Peterson gave up the last two runs on a homer from Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez in the eighth.

“It’s crazy, Voit said. “There’s three, four guys that had three hits today.”

He added: “It just shows no matter who is hitting one, two, five, or eight, we’re gonna rise to the punch and get the job done.”

Tanaka lasted six and two-thirds innings and surrendered five runs, four of which were earned.

Even though they stayed within New York’s city limits, the Mets could not improve their miserable road record. They have now lost 18 of their last 22 games away from Citi Field.

The afternoon was riddled with errors by both defenses. It started in the third inning with Yankees shortstop Didi Gregorius, playing in his fourth game this season after recovering from Tommy John surgery, throwing wide to first base and pulling first baseman Kendrys Morales off the bag. Then, in the fourth inning, Morales failed to receive a ball thrown to him, and was charged with an error that allowed Mets third baseman Todd Frazier to reach first base. Sanchez dropped a foul pop in the sixth, as well.

“I do feel like, defensively, our personnel right now allows us to where that should be a strength,” Yankees Manager Aaron Boone said.

The costliest miscue happened on the Mets’ end, though. Frazier committed a throwing error with two outs in the fourth to allow D.J. LeMahieu to reach base. Aaron Hicks walked, and Voit homered for the 16th time this season to tack on three more runs to Wheeler’s tab.

“Once I threw it, I knew it was going the wrong direction,” Frazier said. “That was on me. Turned into a bigger inning because I couldn’t get the ball to first base.”

Mets shortstop Amed Rosario also committed an error when he failed to step on second base.

It could have been worse for the Mets. McNeil made an all-out effort of his own on a bloop single by Sanchez in the third. McNeil couldn’t quite get to it, and he landed hard. Having come off the injured list on June 4 after going down with a hamstring injury, the team has paid close attention to McNeil, the club’s best hitter. A member of the training staff checked with McNeil on the field. He was cleared to remain in the game and did so.

The night end of the doubleheader was slated to start at 7 p.m., with the Mets sending Jason Vargas to the mound and the Yankees, who have swept their two previous doubleheaders this season, starting James Paxton.

INSIDE PITCH

Dellin Betances, the Yankees’ star relief pitcher who has been out since spring training with a right shoulder injury, has a low grade strain of his right latissimus dorsi muscle and will be shut down for a couple weeks, Manager Aaron Boone said. Betances had been facing hitters at the team’s spring training facility in Tampa, Fla. last week when he suffered the setback and underwent a magnetic resonance imaging examination on Tuesday.

James Wagner contributed reporting.

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