NEW YORK -- Billed as the most impactful regular-season Subway Series ever, this weekend's matchup between the Mets and Yankees proved as chaotic on the field as it was in the standings. Sunday's rubber game emerged from the pages of an almost unfathomable script: Dominant for five innings, Matt Harvey departed due to an innings limit and the Yankees jumped all over his relief corps in an 11-2 win at Citi Field.
The victory moved the Yankees within 2 1/2 games of the Blue Jays ahead of a three-game series in Toronto starting Monday. The Mets, meanwhile, had their National League East lead sliced to six over the Nationals, who defeated Miami on Sunday and will come to Citi Field in less than two weeks for the season's final three games.
"It was the perfect storm," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "You couldn't have set it up any worse."
Between then and now, baseball's media universe will be abuzz with talk of Harvey, who was as dominant Sunday as at any point this season. Striking out seven over five innings, Harvey allowed just one hit. Only four of the 18 batters he faced hit the ball out of the infield.
But the Mets removed Harvey after the fifth in an effort to keep him within spitting distance of 180 innings in his first season back from Tommy John surgery -- a significant point of contention amongst the Mets, Harvey and his agent, Scott Boras. As soon as Harvey departed, the Yankees capitalized on two Mets errors to explode for a five-run sixth against reliever Hansel Robles, who allowed a two-run double to Carlos Beltran and a three-run homer to Dustin Ackley.
"[Harvey] was rolling pretty good," Ackley said. "We couldn't really string anything together and yeah, when he did come out, we got some guys on base. We knew that was a good chance to really make something happen."
Greg Bird added a three-run homer in the eighth inning as the Yankees piled on amidst a classic Subway Series atmosphere. A chanting, screaming crowd hung on nearly every pitch and double-switch -- as did Yankees manager Joe Girardi, who was ejected in the second inning for arguing balls and strikes. Even the team's social media accounts joined in on the rivalry, ribbing each other with jabs such as the Yankees referring to the Mets as their "little brother."
"I would say that we were able to take advantage today," Beltran said. "Sometimes it doesn't work that way. It was good to win today's ballgame. It's huge for us. I know they're in first place, we're trying to get there. It was a very meaningful win."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED With Harvey out, Yanks rally: The Yankees were not unhappy to see Harvey lifted after five innings, immediately batting around for a five-run sixth inning. Facing Robles, Beltran took advantage of two Mets errors, slugging a two-run double up the gap in right-center field. Ackley later connected for his eighth home run of the season, a three-run shot to right. The Yankees have liked the way Ackley has been swinging, and there are indications that he may have supplanted Stephen Drew as the starting second baseman.
"This kid has had success before," Girardi said. "I know this year has kind of been a tough year for him, but you start to wonder how much his back was bothering him and he didn't even realize it was bothering him, and if there was some weakness there. He took those couple of weeks off, went down to rehab and swung the bat great. It's just continued here."
Five good innings: Before his innings limit interfered, Harvey was at his dominant best. He struck out a pair in the first inning, did not allow a hit until the third and limited the Yankees to three baserunners in five innings. Harvey received a standing ovation as he walked off the mound after the fifth, having retired seven in a row at that point. They wound up being the last seven batters he would face. More >
"More than anything, I want to be out there," Harvey said. "The way things were going, tight game, the last thing I want to do is come out. I'm kind of kicking myself for having some long innings and getting the pitch count up."
Added Mets third baseman David Wright: "I think that we'd like to have Matt on the mound. But he wasn't. I guess we've got to deal with it."
Sabathia battles through: CC Sabathia had the Yankees concerned about a short night in a 32-pitch first inning, but the big lefty was able to hold the Mets to just Wright's RBI double by beginning a string of nine straight batters retired. It was another encouraging outing for Sabathia, who credits a protective brace that he is now wearing on his right knee for allowing him to pitch without discomfort. He has held opponents to a .190 batting average against in three starts since returning from the disabled list.
"It feels good," Sabathia said. "I think if anybody knows me, it hurts me more to let the team down than for myself. To be able to help the team out and try to get wins, just to be healthy enough first of all, and to be able to go out and do it, it feels good." More >
"The only thing I'm scared of is death. And I'm not scared of that." -- Mets outfielder Yoenis Cespedes, who snapped an 0-for-19 skid with a fifth-inning double. Cespedes was responding to the assertion that Marlins pitcher Tom Koehler affected him by plunking him with a fastball in a game last Tuesday.
Girardi was ejected by third-base umpire John Hirschbeck in the second inning, apparently as a result of arguing a check-swing called on Bird. The manager charged out of the dugout and exchanged words with Hirschbeck after the call. It was Girardi's fourth ejection of the season.
"Our guys, myself included, clearly saw that Greg Bird didn't swing," Girardi said. "And we didn't like the call. I think you can read his lips, what he said to me, and I took offense to that." More >
FROM THE TRAINER'S ROOM
Mets second baseman Juan Uribe left with a chest contusion two innings after diving for Brett Gardner's infield hit in the third. X-rays were negative and Uribe is day to day. More >
Better news came from the Mets' bullpen, where Carlos Torres emerged to pitch for the first time since Sept. 7. Torres had been sidelined with a strained left calf.
WHAT'S NEXT Yankees: The Yankees travel north of the border Monday to begin a three-game showdown with the first-place Blue Jays at Rogers Centre, with first pitch scheduled for 7:07 p.m. ET. Right-hander Adam Warren (6-6, 3.33 ERA) gets the ball for the Yankees, taking on left-hander David Price (16-5, 2.42).
Mets:Jon Niese will look to restore sanity to the Mets' rotation when he kicks off a three-game series Monday against the Braves. Niese owns an 8.77 ERA over his last five starts and, if the playoffs started today, could be on the outside of the roster looking in. He will oppose right-hander Shelby Miller in the 7:10 p.m. ET game at Citi Field.