Clay Holmes got out of a sticky situation, Drew Smith did not and the New York Yankees won a wild Subway Series opener at Citi Field.
Holmes escaped a bases-loaded jam in the eighth inning and the Yankees stormed back from four runs down against Max Scherzer to beat the skidding Mets 7-6 on Tuesday night.
“One of those fun ones,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. “Obviously the buzz around Mets-Yankees, and you can feel that in the building. To have a lot of really cool, big moments in that game and to have everyone have a hand in it, those are fun.”
Giancarlo Stanton and DJ LeMahieu homered off Scherzer, and pinch-hitter Josh Donaldson drove in the tiebreaking run with a sacrifice fly in the sixth after Brandon Nimmo misplayed a ball in center field.
Before the seventh, Smith became the second Mets pitcher ejected by umpires this season for using an illegal foreign substance.
“They said both of my hands were too sticky,” Smith said. “Really surprised, because I haven’t done anything different all year. Sweat and rosin. I don’t know what else to say. Nothing changed. It’s just, I think the process is so arbitrary.”
Nimmo hit his eighth career leadoff homer and Jeff McNeil had a two-run single for the Mets (31-36), who have lost nine of 10.
They opened a 5-1 lead in the third with the help of two second-inning balks by struggling Yankees starter Luis Severino, only to see Scherzer give up five runs and six hits in the fourth.
“You can put the camera right on me. I’ve got to be better,” Scherzer said.
LeMahieu’s two-run homer trimmed it to 5-3. Slumping rookie Anthony Volpe had an RBI double and Jake Bauers’ two-run bloop single over a drawn-in infield chased Scherzer and gave the Yankees a 6-5 lead.
“He threw some good pitches to hit and we didn’t miss them,” LeMahieu said.
The three-time Cy Young Award winner was booed by Mets fans in the sellout crowd of 43,707 who showed up to see the first meeting between the teams this season — played without injured sluggers Aaron Judge and Pete Alonso.
Luis Guillorme’s two-out RBI single tied it in the fifth, ending Severino’s night.
The Mets loaded the bases with one out in the eighth. Holmes entered and struck out cleanup batter Francisco Lindor with a sinker in a seven-pitch at-bat and Starling Marte on a slider in a nine-pitch encounter to preserve the one-run lead.
“I just knew I was executing tonight,” Holmes said.
Ron Marinaccio (3-3) pitched a scoreless inning for the win, and Michael King worked a 1-2-3 ninth for his fourth save. Yankees relievers lead the majors with a 2.72 ERA.
“I think we threw like six guys tonight out of the bullpen and went scoreless, so just to be able to continue kind of what we started and kind of hand the baton over,” Holmes said.
Josh Walker (0-1) gave up Billy McKinney’s infield single to start the sixth and a double by Volpe that should have been caught by Nimmo.
Smith never even threw a pitch. As he entered the game, he was stopped by umpires on the infield for a routine check. Within moments, teammates and Mets manager Buck Showalter were also huddled around the right-hander.
Smith held out his pitching hand and pleaded his case, but was ejected by first base umpire Bill Miller, the crew chief. Smith likely faces a 10-game suspension, a significant blow to a thin and shaky Mets bullpen.
“Drew Smith was ejected because he had sticky hands,” Miller told a pool reporter. “I don’t know what’s on his hand, all I know it was sticky — sticky to the touch. It stuck to my hands when I touched it. Not only his pitching hand, but his glove hand as well.”
Miller said Smith’s hand was the stickiest he’s felt this season, and that the other three umpires agreed.
“I think if something’s sticky, it’s illegal,” Miller said. “They cannot manipulate the rosin. They can’t use foreign substance. I don’t know what was on his hand. But his hand was sticky to the touch, where my hand stuck to his hand.”
Scherzer served a 10-game suspension after his April 19 ejection at Dodger Stadium for having a sticky foreign substance on his hand. He also claimed it was simply a mix of sweat and rosin, nothing illegal.
Yankees: CF Harrison Bader (hamstring) took batting practice and went through another full workout. He is scheduled to play a rehab game Wednesday for Double-A Somerset and then hopes to come off the injured list Friday night at Boston.
Mets: LHP José Quintana (rib surgery) threw 26 pitches over 1 1/3 scoreless innings in his first rehab outing for Class A St. Lucie. Quintana, sidelined all season, allowed two hits and walked one. … Alonso (bruised and sprained left wrist) took grounders and did some running. Showalter hinted the first baseman could return sooner than the initial estimate of three to four weeks. … INF Ronny Mauricio, one of the team’s top prospects, is day-to-day at Triple-A Syracuse after an MRI showed a bone bruise to his left ankle.
The two-game series concludes Wednesday night with Yankees ace Gerrit Cole (7-1, 2.84 ERA) facing former Houston teammate Justin Verlander (2-3, 4.85) in a marquee pitching matchup.
“I’m sure there will be a little extra buzz around that,” Boone said.