NEW YORK (AP) — Yoenis Cespedes homered in his return from the disabled list, Noah Syndergaard won his second straight start since coming back from an injury but left after a drop in velocity, and the New York Mets beat the Yankees 7-5 Friday night in a Subway Series opener.
Robert Gsellman pitched two innings for his fifth save as Mets closer Jeurys Familia sat in the bullpen. Manager Mickey Callaway said he was told mid-game not to use Familia because the team was close to trading him.
Cespedes had been out since May 13 with a strained right hip flexor, the latest in a string of lower body injuries that have limited him to 119 games in 1 ½ seasons since signing a $110 million, four-year contract.
He homered off an again ineffective Domingo German (2-6) to put the Mets ahead 4-0 in the third, sending a 3-0 pitch off the left-field foul pole. Cespedes is 8 for 10 with a pair of homers in his big league career on 3-0 counts. He also singled in the sixth — it would have driven in a run had Brandon Nimmo not been thrown out trying to stretch a double into a triple.
German was optioned to the minors after the game. He’ll be replaced in the rotation by Luis Cessa.
Syndergaard (6-1) returned just before the All-Star break after seven weeks on the disabled list caused by a strained right index finger. He allowed one run and eight hits in five innings, leaving after a velocity drop of about 2 mph in his final inning.
Callaway and a trainer came to the mound with one out in the fifth and looked at the finger, and Callaway and pitching coach Dave Eiland had a lengthy discussion with Syndergaard in the dugout after the inning. Callaway said after the game that Syndergaard was a little tired but his finger was fine.
Syndergaard has not had a 1-2-3 inning in any of his 10 innings since returning. His four strikeouts increased his total to 501 in 438 2/3 innings, and he bettered Dwight Gooden (445 1/3 innings) as the fastest Mets pitcher to 500 strikeouts.
Michael Conforto had three RBIs for the Mets, including an insurance run with a ninth-inning sacrifice fly off A.J. Cole.
Every Yankees starter had a hit, and they had a runner on in every inning but went 2 for 13 with runners in scoring position and stranded 14.
The Yankees dropped 5 1/2 games behind AL East-leading Boston, their biggest deficit since mid-April.
“I expect us to go out and be great,” manager Aaron Boone said before the game. “That’s kind of our expectation when we embarked on this season and that continues to be the expectation. And I think it’s a realistic expectation.”
To fulfill their goals, more pitching like is necessary. German gave up four runs, five hits and three walks in 3 2/3 innings, dropping to 0-2 in his last five starts.
The Mets started 11-1 but entered 39-55, the fewest wins in the National League. Familia and Asdrubal Cabrera are both eligible for free agency and could be dealt.
“We have to evaluate where we are as an organization and what we look like going into the offseason, so we know what to expect and what maybe our needs are,” Callaway said before the game.
Run-scoring doubles by Cabrera, Conforto and Jose Bautista built a 3-0 lead in the first. Giancarlo Stanton’s sacrifice fly cut the Yankees’ deficit to 4-1 in the third, but Conforto and Devin Mesoraco hit RBI singles for a 6-1 lead in fifth against Adam Warren, who walked the bases loaded.
Seth Lugo allowed Neil Walker’s two-run double in the sixth but retired Miguel Andujar on an inning-ending flyout that left the bases loaded in the seventh. Brett Gardner reached when shortstop Amed Rosario missed his one-out grounder in the eighth, and the Yankees closed when Didi Gregorius hit an RBI double and Stanton had a run-scoring groundout. With runners at the corners and two outs, Gsellman struck out Gary Sanchez. The catcher was 1 for 5 in his first game since injuring a groin on June 24 and ran very gingerly.
Gsellman walked Walker with two outs in the ninth, then got the save by inducing Gardner to ground into a forceout.
The Yankees had a scout at RHP Nathan Eovaldi’s start against Miami.
The 16th home sellout this season, a season-high 47,175, was three more than last year and matched 2014 for the most since 20 in 2011, the high at new Yankee Stadium.
Mets: OF Jay Bruce, who hasn’t played since June 17 because of a sore right hip, still isn’t swinging a bat.
Yankees: 2B Gleyber Torres, out since straining his right hip on July 4, is scheduled to start an injury rehabilitation assignment Saturday at Class A Tampa and rejoin Yankees on Wednesday at Tampa Bay. … OF Clint Frazier was put back in a concussion protocol and placed on the 7-day DL after making a diving catch for Triple-A Scranton Wilkes-Barre on Thursday night and leaving after one inning. Frazier sustained a concussion early in spring training, didn’t play his first minor league game until April 26 and his first big league game until May 198. … OF Jacoby Ellsbury, sidelined with a variety of injuries since spring training, still hasn’t progressed to baseball activities. “We hold out hope that he can get back at some point,” Boone said.
LHP Steven Matz (4-7, 3.38) starts Saturday for the Mets and RHP Sonny Gray (6-7, 5.46) for the Yankees.
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