David Phelps made his first start in the Subway Series Wednesday, but the main attraction for Mets hitters was a fastball that featured very little movement.
Perhaps nobody was as glad to see a straight fastball as Ike Davis, who capped a five-run first inning with a two-run single for the Mets, who now have a season-high four-game winning streak after last night’s 9-4 victory at steamy Yankee Stadium.
Phelps was coming off a career-high 7 2/3 inning performance in Tampa Bay in which he retired the first 12 hitters. Right from the outset it was apparent a repeat showing was not in order.
“I was just leaving a lot of balls up,” Phelps said. “They made me pay for it. It stinks. It’s one of the worst outings you can have but I’m not going to let it kill me.”
Phelps gave up the first run just three pitches in on a curveball Daniel Murphy hit to the warning track in right center just out of the reach of Brett Gardner for an RBI double. After walking David Wright with a slider and striking out Lucas Duda, Phelps left a fastball over the plate which John Buck turned into a base hit and a 2-0 lead.
It looked like Davis's slump would persist as he fell behind 0-2, but after restraining himself from chasing two off-speed pitches to reach a full count, Phelps went back to his fastball and Davis lined it up the middle to chase Phelps from the game.
“There was more to it than two breaking balls and all of a sudden a full count,” Buck said. “It was him laying off some off-speed pitches and working the count to get to the full count and earn himself the fastball. That at-bat was the type of at-bat that can definitely turn it around.
“He worked the whole at-bat to get to 3-2. He earned that fastball.”
Davis’s hit came in his first plate appearance since he and Ruben Tejada met with manager Terry Collins and front office members Tuesday night. The possibility of a demotion for both players was discussed.
“We’re all rooting for Ike,” Collins said. “You have to root for him. He’s a tremendous guy. He’s a big part of this team. I think David [Wright] said it best, if we’re going to have a chance to win here -- and that means this year, we’re not talking championship -- if we’re going to have a chance to win baseball games, Ike Davis needs to be in the middle of that lineup.”
While Davis was able to feel relieved about getting a hit with a possible demotion to Triple-A Las Vegas looming, Phelps had his night ended at 31 pitches with the Yankees in a 5-0 hole.
“It is what it is,” Davis said. “He basically just said that I’ve got to play better. That’s what I’m trying to do. I’ve been trying to do that for a long time now. Nothing really has changed.
“Obviously I don’t like playing bad. The fire’s been lit for a while. I’ve been upset all year.”
As for Phelps, he became the first Yankee to exit with only one recorded out in a non-injury situation at home since Mike Witt on June 1, 1993. He also became the second Yankee starter to exit that early in a Subway Series game, joining Darrell Rasner who left after two batters due to injury May 19, 2007 at Shea Stadium.
Phelps was pitching after taking a ball off the forearm Friday.
“He felt great yesterday,” manager Joe Girardi said. “He just had a stinker.”
The Yankees’ attempt at avoiding a season-high fourth consecutive defeat stopped at three runs. They avoided a shutout on Brennan Boesch’s home run in the fourth and scored two in the sixth on RBI singles by Boesch and Jayson Nix but did not get any closer.
About the only highlight for the Yankees was the relief performance of Ivan Nova, who struck out six in five innings.
Follow Yankees beat writer Larry Fleisher on Twitter @LarryFleisher.