Beltran and McCann both homered and Pineda won his 11th game of the season

Michael Pineda.

Michael Pineda.

The Yankees beat the New York Mets, 5-0, on Saturday afternoon and their deficit in the American League East is now 3.5 games since the Toronto Blue Jays lost to the Boston Red Sox. The Yankees had a 5-0 lead entering the bottom of the sixth inning, but Joe Girardi still ended up using six relief pitchers. It worked out in the end because the Mets did not score a run, but Girardi could have brought in one fewer pitcher out of the bullpen.

Michael Pineda pitched 5.1 innings on Saturday against the Mets, allowing four hits, one walk and striking out four. He is a very effective pitcher when he throws his slider where he wants it to go and he did exactly that against the Mets. Big Mike was taken out of the game after throwing only 86 pitches and allowing two singles and then striking out Yoenis Cespedes in the sixth.

Joe Girardi said that he was taken out of the game because of how he had previously pitched against Daniel Murphy, who was the next batter. Girardi’s strategy ended up working in the sixth inning as Justin Wilson walked Murphy to load the bases and then struck out David Wright and Juan Uribe swinging to end the frame.

Noah Syndergaard, who is one of the best young pitchers in the National League and came into the game with a 3.20 ERA in 21 starts, was not effective in the first inning. His least effective innings this season have been in the first and sixth innings, and Synergaard allowed multiple runs in both of those innings.

Carlos Beltran hit a homer to right field to drive in Jacoby Ellsbury and Brett Gardner in the first inning. That was Beltran’s 16th blast of the season, which is tied for fifth most on the team. He also has the best average on the team (.279) and nobody would have expected that at this point of the season after he had a .162 average at the end of April.

“The first month I wasn’t really basically using my lower body,” Beltran said. “Looking at a lot of videos, looking at a lot of clips from previous years, I was able to make the adjustment.”

Another positive about the first inning is that Ellsbury and Gardner both singled and it will be important that they continue to get on base at the top of the lineup in the remaining 15 games for the middle of the order to have RBI opportunities.

Brian McCann hit a 433-foot homer to right center in the sixth inning to score Beltran to give the Yankees two insurance runs. That was McCann’s 26th homer of the season and his team leading 89th RBI. McCann, who is a seven-time All-Star, is on his way to finishing with 30 homers and 95 RBIs for the first time in his career.

Wilson struck out four in his 1.1 innings of relief but after that Girardi truly mixed and matched his relievers for the rest of the game. Wilson came out of the game with two outs in the sixth inning and from the point on Caleb Cotham, Dellin Betances, James Pazos, Chris Martin and Andrew Miller all pitched for the Yankees.

Betances pitched a perfect eighth inning striking out two batters and then Girardi went to the rookie Pazos. He had only allowed one hit in six appearances (3.0 innings) coming into this game, and he got the only batter he faced (Murphy) to ground out to Didi Gregorius. Girardi could have opted to leave in Pazos, but luckily Miller only had to throw three pitches to get the final out of the game, which means that he will be able to pitch again on Sunday.

Girardi doesn’t like to throw Betances or Miller three days in a row, but that rule could be thrown out of the window now and Sunday would only be his second day in a row pitching anyway.

“I think his rules usually [don’t] include September,” Miller said. “That’s how I understood them. I know they’re not hard and fast. I don’t know how many games we have left but I’m going to try to pitch in every one of them.”

The Yankees will look to win the series and keep their chances of catching the Blue Jays in the AL East alive with a win over the Mets on Sunday Night Baseball. Matt Harvey will be limited in this game due to coming back from Tommy John surgery and it was reported that he will throw about 70 pitches in tonight’s start.

CC Sabathia will get the start tonight for the Yankees and he has pitched better since getting a new brace on his knee. Sabathia, who has a 4.93 ERA this season, allowed zero runs in a start for the first time this season in his previous start.

“CC threw the ball as well as he’s thrown it all year,” Alex Rodriguez said. “Four pitches for strikes, and it’s not just about speed, it’s throwing the ball with conviction. Tremendous performance by CC. Very encouraging.”

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