07/04/2004 4:54 PM ET
Wigginton spurs sweep of Yankees
Infielder's first multihomer game gives Mets city title
By Kevin Czerwinski / MLB.com
NEW YORK -- Ty Wigginton hopped behind the controls of the 7 Train Sunday afternoon and drove the Mets to a Subway Series II sweep.
|Kaz Matsui turns a third-inning double play to help Jae Seo out of trouble. (Ed Betz/AP)
Wigginton blasted the second of his two homers in the eighth inning, a solo shot off Tom Gordon, to power the Mets to a 6-5 victory over the Yankees before a sellout crowd of 55,437 at Shea Stadium. The victory was New York's fourth straight, putting Art Howe's club a season-high two games over .500 (41-39), the first time it has been that far above the break-even point since Aug. 3, 2002.
The Mets remain two games back of the first-place Phillies as they head down to Philadelphia for the start of a four-game East Division showdown Monday night. Still, the victory marked the first time in franchise history that the Mets swept a three-game series from the Yanks. The Mets also won the season series (4-2) from the Yankees for the first time.
"It was a great weekend for us, let's face it," Mets manager Art Howe said. "It turned out the way we hoped it would after we won the first one Friday night. The key, though, is to not get too far beyond ourselves here. We played a great series, but we have two tough teams [Philly and Florida] ahead of us before the break so we can't afford to relax."
The Mets certainly didn't relax on Sunday, not even when the Yankees tied the game, 5-5, in the top of the eighth. Wigginton, who went 6-for-12 in the series, was fooled by a Gordon slider on Saturday afternoon. He wasn't about to let it happen again, going yard on a 1-0 pitch.
"'Flash' got me with that breaking ball yesterday so I went up there looking for that little slider today," said Wigginton, who collected the first multihomer game of his career. "And I got one. It feels nice. I had never faced him before but I talked to the guys on the team who had. You look at the numbers he puts up. He's one of the top setup men in the game."
Wigginton has been the subject of trade rumors lately and has had to deal with third base prospect David Wright coming up fast behind him. But he has handled the pressure well, impressing Howe.
"Ty has handled it by just going out and playing great baseball," Howe said. "Without him in the lineup today, it's a losing effort."
The game, however, was not without controversy. Yankees skipper Joe Torre decided to play the game under protest when Jorge Posada was called out in the top of the eighth inning after getting hit by a Miguel Cairo grounder between first and second.
"My understanding is that once a fielder gets a chance to field the ball and someone gets hit by it, it's not an automatic out," Torre said. "The ruling was that the second baseman had an opportunity, too, but just to get it right, I figured I'd lose nothing by [filing the protest].
"It's an umpire's decision, but I didn't want to find out that the rule was other than what they stated to me. I did it as a safety net. I came in and checked it after the game, and if the umpire says that in his estimation that the second baseman has a chance to catch the ball, then he made the right call."
The Mets jumped on Javier Vazquez (9-6) quickly, taking advantage of some uncharacteristic wildness. He walked Kaz Matsui, one of the season-high five base-on-balls he allowed, to lead off the game. Todd Zeile followed with a perfectly placed hit-and-run that put runners on the corners. Mike Piazza gave the Mets a 1-0 lead with a sacrifice fly to left.
Vazquez issued a leadoff walk in the second to Jason Phillips and Wigginton made him pay, following it up by smacking a 2-2 pitch over the wall. Bernie Williams drew the Yanks to within one with a solo homer in the third, but an Alex Rodriguez error in the fourth led to the Mets' fourth run.
The Bombers battled back, knotting the game against the New York bullpen after Jae Seo went an impressive 5 2/3 innings. He left with a 4-2 lead, but the Yankees roughed up Mike Stanton in the seventh, scoring a pair on four consecutive singles off the veteran southpaw.
Richard Hidalgo put the Mets in front in the bottom of the inning, though, sending Felix Heredia's 3-1 offering over the wall in left. It marked the fourth consecutive game in which Hidalgo has homered, tying a career high and equaling the club mark reached eight times previously, the last time coming in April of 2001 when Edgardo Alfonzo turned the trick.
Hidalgo's heroics got Stanton off the hook, but Orber Moreno couldn't keep the Bombers from knotting things up. Hideki Matsui led off the eighth with a double and scored on Posada's RBI single, setting the stage for the protest and Wigginton's heroics.
Kevin Czerwinski is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.