When the Mets and Yankees last met on 4th of July weekend, they looked like two teams headed in opposite directions.
The Mets, who held onto first place in the NL East for two straight months at this point, handled them, to take two out of three at Yankee Stadium. As for the Yankees, they looked like they were destined to miss out on the postseason for the first time since 2016 due to an ugly first-half of the 2021 season.
But since then, the Yankees have managed to climb back into the playoff race, while the Mets have pretty much fallen out of it, following the July 30 trade deadline.
However, if you watched Friday night's Subway Series opener, you'd think nothing ever changed between these two teams since their previous meeting.
After a disappointing 2-4 finish to their eight game road trip, the Mets bounced back with a convincing 10-3 victory over their crosstown rivals to take the first game of the series at Citi Field.
Despite falling behind 2-1 early, the Mets' offense exploded for eight unanswered runs between the third and fourth inning, before adding two more runs in the bottom of the seventh on a Gleyber Torres throwing error.
On the other side of things, rookie Tylor Megill was spectacular on the mound for the Mets. The right-hander went a career-high seven innings, allowing two runs on four hits, while also setting a career-high with nine strikeouts.
"I was commanding the zone from bottom to top with all three of my pitches and I was making them feel uncomfortable," said Megill.
It's safe to say that the run support Megill received enhanced his confidence on the mound to go out and attack hitters.
“It gives me all the confidence in the world, just to throw the ball over the plate in a way and attack hitters more confidently knowing I have, I guess, room for mistakes pitching,” Megill said. “The offense killed it today. It’s awesome, they’ve been playing really well.”
Megill also did the Mets' taxed bullpen a huge favor by going deep into the game as well.
“For me, it was the first time going seven innings since I don’t even know when. Just being able to keep my pitch count as low as it was, and I was in a groove, and for the most part, I was dominating tonight,” Megill said. “Being able to go seven innings and save some bullpen arms and give them some rest for as long as we’ve been going, I was glad I was able to do that for them.”
Pitching in his first Subway series contest, Megill admittedly fed off the energy that the crowd brought.
“It was exciting. The energy definitely felt different from a lot of games, knowing that (it’s) Yankees-Mets. Going in today, I had a really good feeling with the energy and the crowd today and everything. It was fun,” Megill said. “I had a blast today throwing.”
The Mets are now 71-71 on the season and five games back of the Braves in the NL East with 20 games left to play.
Regardless, the Mets were in need of a feel-good type of victory, which is exactly what they received tonight at the Yankees' expense.
The sputtering Yankees have now lost seven straight games, and after a 13-game winning streak, they have dropped 11-of-13, hanging on for dear life of the second AL Wild Card spot by only a half game.
As a result, the Mets were able to keep their slim playoff hopes alive with their latest win.
"Every win counts, every win is huge when you are in September....Whatever it takes. Whatever it takes to play in that cold weather in October," said Francisco Lindor, who smashed his 14th home run of the season in the fourth inning.
In the top of the first, Brett Gardner wound up on third base with a triple after Jeff McNeil's failed diving attempt. This led to a run for the Yankees, as Aaron Judge drove him in with an RBI groundout.
The Mets tied things up in the bottom half on Javier Báez's RBI single, getting some help from a miscue by Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez. Left fielder Joey Gallo fielded Báez's single and fired a strike to home plate, beating Jonathan Villar by five steps, however, Sanchez tried tagging him up high, which allowed Villar to sneak his foot in safely.
In the top of the second, Gallo greeted Megill with a 427-foot solo blast to give the Yankees a 2-1 lead.
Fast forward to the bottom of the third, and after allowing a leadoff hit to Villar, Montgomery lost the strike zone, walking three straight batters to force in a run.
That's when Báez grounded out to Gio Urshela at third base, who threw the ball away to allow the go-ahead run to score. With the bases loaded and still no one out, Jeff McNeil laid down a perfect drag bunt for an RBI, before Kevin Pillar knocked in another run with a sac-fly.
The Mets capped off a five-run inning with James McCann's RBI double, which extended the lead to 6-2.
Yankees manager Aaron Boone stuck with Jordan Montgomery in the bottom of the fourth, and Lindor made him pay with a solo homer that just snuck into the seats near the foul pole in right field to increase the Mets' lead to 7-2.
Montgomery's final line was: 3.1 innings, seven runs (five earned) on seven hits to go along with six strikeouts and three walks.
Joely Rodriguez entered in relief of Montgomery and gave up another run on Báez's RBI double, which was the Mets' eighth run of the evening. Báez finished the night with three hits, one double and two RBIs.
"We are just being simple," said Báez of the offensive explosion. "We had one approach as a team and we just went by it, pitch-by-pitch."
The Mets got two more runs in the bottom of the seventh on Torres' throwing error to go up 10-2.
And although Anthony Rizzo's upper deck solo homer off Yennsy Diaz in the ninth gave the Yankees their third run, that's all the additional scoring they would get, as the Mets cruised to their first win on black jersey Friday since bringing back these uniforms on July 30.