Valdespin, Dickey and Nieuwenhuis Lead Mets To Victory
This week, the New York Mets bounced back from two tough series to finish off their road trip with a three-game sweep of the Tampa Bay Rays.
After struggling offensively against the Yankees over the weekend, the Mets' bats came through in a big way during Tuesday's series opener. Jordany Valdespin drove in four and Ike Davis provided the biggest blow of the night with a three-run homer as New York defeated Tampa, 11-2.
The beneficiary of all that offense was right-hander Chris Young, who settled down after a tough first inning to give his team 5.2 innings in his second start of the season. Young, who gave up nine hits but allowed just two runs, earned his first win since 2010.
Although the offense continued to perform well the next night in Tampa, the star of the show on Wednesday was starting pitcher R.A. Dickey. Coming off four straight fantastic outings, the knuckleball specialist found a way to raise his game even higher: He mowed down the Rays to the tune of 12 strikeouts, one hit and no walks.
That one hit came in the first inning. Third baseman David Wright attempted to pick up a B.J. Upton ground ball with his bare hand but could not field it cleanly. The Mets have filed an appeal with Major League Baseball to change the play, which was ruled a hit by the Tropicana Field official scorer, into an error on Wright.
If that appeal is successful, Dickey's start will enter the record books as the second no-hitter in Mets history, just 12 days after Johan Santana pitched the first. Even with the one hit, however, Dickey's 12-strikeout one-hitter was arguably an even more dominant pitching performance than Santana's eight-strikeout, five-walk no-no.
Dickey picked up his league-leading 10th win and broke Jerry Koosman's franchise record by completing a streak of 32.2 scoreless innings.
After that brilliant performance on the mound, the Mets came through at the plate to win Thursday's series finale, 9-6. Kirk Nieuwenhuis led the charge with his first career two-homer game, and Lucas Duda capped a four-run fourth with a two-run double to chase Tampa Bay starter Jeremy Hellickson from the game.
That was more than enough support for Santana, who picked up his fourth win of the year despite allowing four runs in five innings.
With Dickey emerging as one of the National League's best pitchers and an offense that scored 29 runs in the three-game series, the Mets have plenty of reasons to be optimistic as June rolls on.
They will return to Citi Field this weekend to host the Cincinnati Reds for the first contest of a nine-game home stand.
Yankees Sweep Their Way To First Place
After beating the Atlanta Braves in convincing fashion Monday night, the New York Yankees kept rolling all the way to first place in the American League East.
Tuesday's game was a tough one for ace left-hander CC Sabathia, who lasted seven innings despite giving up three runs in the first. Thanks to seven dominant frames from Atlanta starter Mike Minor, though, the series appeared to be headed for a 1-1 tie.
That all changed in the eighth inning. After one quick out, Derek Jeter, Curtis Granderson and Mark Teixeira reached to load the bases for the Yankees. In stepped Alex Rodriguez, who promptly unloaded the bases with his 23rd career grand slam; with that shot, he tied Yankees legend Lou Gehrig as the all-time leader.
Two batters later, Nick Swisher belted his 10th home run of the year to give New York a 6-4 lead. Relievers Clay Rapada and Rafael Soriano finished off the victory with two perfect innings.
The Yankees battled their way to victory in Wednesday's series finale behind right-hander Hiroki Kuroda. Though he pitched without his best stuff, Kuroda managed to strike out eight Braves in six innings and escaped from several tough spots, giving up just two earned runs on the night.
Curtis Granderson's 19th home run of the season gave the Yankees a 3-2 lead in the sixth inning. The bullpen was a little shakier than the previous night, but Boone Logan, Cody Eppley and Rafael Soriano still managed to preserve the win.
The Yankees have now won six straight games and have sole possession of first place in the American League East, albeit just half a game ahead of second-place Baltimore. They will face a tough opponent this weekend in the NL East-leading Washington Nationals.