The Yankees and Mets defied the pitch clock to bend time at Citi Field on Tuesday night in the first installment of this year's Subway Series.
Three hours and 30 minutes after Max Scherzer's first pitch, the final out nestled into Isiah Kiner-Falefa's glove in center field, but both starters only barely imprinted upon the game's final story.
For about one-third of this one's total length, Luis Severino's abject failure was the dominant story, but Max Scherzer's fourth-inning meltdown erased Sevy's contributions entirely. As the Yankees' right-hander passed 100 pitches, Aaron Boone looked him in the eyes and decided his former ace could record the final out of the fifth; he couldn't, evening the game again before exiting in a cloud of confusion.
Luckily for the Yankees' manager, the game had several more timelines still left to unfold. Also luckily for the Yankees' manager, he has an overload of intriguing bullpen options to play with. Even if a few of the middle buttons glow hot, he always has an additional few left to push.
Ultimately, Tuesday's series opener wasn't defined by Boone trusting his starter or the offense striking back. It wrested on his decision to insert Clay Holmes with the bases loaded and one out in the eighth inning against Francisco Lindor and Starling Marte. Wandy Peralta didn't have it. Perhaps he was still exasperated from facing off with Masataka Yoshida for 97 pitches on Saturday night (estimated total).
Either way, Holmes stared down the ultimate high-leverage opportunity. He even provided back-to-back full counts to heighten the drama. He executed with a perfect fastball to Lindor and an even better slider to Marte.
Yankees closer Clay Holmes delivers for Aaron Boone in eighth inning
Holmes has now allowed a single run in his last 19 appearances, striking out 24.
The game wasn't yet over. Luckily for Boone, his final button shrugged off three straight tough outings against the Dodgers, White Sox and Red Sox to plow through the bottom of the Mets' order in the ninth and unveil a changeup in the process.
In order for Boone's gambit to work, Michael King had to be good enough. He was more than that. He was as fresh as he's looked in weeks, nipping the corners with his two-seamer and getting Tommy Pham to chase a rarely-used change of pace for the second out.
Will the Yankees' offense eventually be able to carry their spectacular bullpen to the postseason? Will striking back from early deficits become the norm rather than a rarity so stunning it has Mets fans questioning their birthright (again)? Who's to say? There probably won't be much consistency at the plate until Aaron Judge returns. Luckily, the bullpen thrives on a lack of consistency.
Give Aaron Boone credit. He messed up in the fifth. He did. But to get this one to the finish line, he threaded three different needles and emptied the tank with Gerrit Cole on the mound in Game 2. But forget tomorrow; he needed this one, and managed for the now, something he rarely does. Holmes and King responded.