MLB: Mets aim to remain hot in series vs. Yankees

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The New York Mets know they’re the hottest team in baseball this month.

But thanks to a chaotic ninth inning Sunday night, the Mets don’t know who their closer will be the rest of June and the start of July.

The Mets will be without Edwin Diaz and possibly Drew Smith Tuesday night, when they look to remain red-hot while hosting the New York Yankees in the first Subway Series game of the season.

Left-hander David Peterson (3-0, 3.97 ERA) is slated to start for the Mets against right-hander Gerrit Cole (0-0. 4.50).

The Mets’ latest series win may have come with a heavy price Sunday night, when they beat the host Chicago Cubs 5-2 in the finale of a three-game set. The Yankees lost their third straight series earlier Sunday afternoon, when the visiting Atlanta Braves earned a 3-1 victory.

Diaz, who was 1-0 with two saves in his first three appearances after a 15-day stint on the injured list for a right shoulder impingement, entered for the save opportunity Sunday night but was ejected by crew chief Vic Carapazza after he determined Diaz’s hand had an illegal sticky substance.

Diaz said his hand contained the allowed mixture of rosin, sweat and dirt, but Carapazza told a pool reporter “…(t)he substance was extremely sticky. Discolored. That was that.”

Pitchers ejected for using illegal substances are subjected to an automatic 10-game suspension, which would keep Diaz out through July 5. The Mets are not allowed to replace him on the active roster.

Smith, who served a 10-game suspension for sticky stuff last summer, entered and conducted his warmups on the mound. The right-hander, who has two saves this season but missed more than a month with a sore right shoulder, was visited by trainers after recording the first two outs and exited following Dansby Swanson’s single. Jake Diekman notched his third save by striking out Patrick Wisdom.

The closer drama overshadowed another impressive win by the Mets, who lead the majors with a 13-6 record this month after going 9-19 in May, which tied New York with the Oakland Athletics for the worst mark in baseball.

“We have been through a lot this year and we will find a way to get through it,” Mets manager Carlos Mendoza said.

The Yankees continued encountering their first serious challenges of the season during their three-game series against the Braves. New York went 16-2-2 in its first 20 series but has only a 7-9 record since June 7, a span in which it has dropped series to a quartet of contenders in Atlanta along with the Los Angeles Dodgers, Boston Red Sox and Baltimore Orioles.

“Nobody’s hanging their heads, nobody’s panicking in here,” pitcher Nestor Cortes said. “Just a rough patch that (over) 162 games you’re going to go through.”

The Yankees sustained their biggest loss against the Braves in an 8-3 win Saturday night, when designated hitter Giancarlo Stanton suffered a left hamstring injury while scoring from second in the fourth inning. Stanton was placed on the injured list Sunday — his eighth trip to the shelf in six seasons in New York — and is expected to miss a month.

The absence of Stanton magnifies the top-heavy nature of the Yankees’ lineup. Stanton, Aaron Judge and Juan Soto have combined for 64 homers and 171 RBIs while the rest of the team has just 51 homers and 210 RBIs.

In hopes of replacing some of Stanton’s production, the Yankees acquired J.D. Davis from the Athletics on Sunday. Davis, who has 28 homers in 660 career at-bats against left-handers, played for the Mets from 2019 through 2022.

Peterson, 28, earned the win in his most recent start June 17, when he gave up two runs and four hits over six innings as the Mets beat the Texas Rangers, 14-2. He is 0-0 with a 10.38 ERA in two career games (one start) against the Yankees.

Cole, 33, didn’t factor into the decision in his season debut last Wednesday, when he allowed two runs over four innings in the Yankees’ 7-6, 10-inning loss to the Orioles. The reigning American League Cy Young Award winner, who suffered an elbow injury in spring training, is 2-2 with a 5.89 ERA in seven games against the Mets.

–Field Level Media

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