New York Post
MET THEIR MATCH
Bruce makes Yanks pay for missed trade
CLEVELAND — Think of how often, how dramatically, the Yankees have benefited from the Mets’ parsimony of the last halfcentury-plus.
Think of that, Yankees fans, and maybe that’ll soften the blow of what happened Thursday night at Progressive Field:
The Mets’ savings led to a Yankees loss.
Jay Bruce, a Met on Opening Day and a near-Yankee in August, has put his almost-employer in quite a hole.
The outfielder slugged a tworun homer and double and added a sacrifice fly, driving in three runs and scoring two, as his Indians blanked the Yankees, 4-0, in Game 1 of the ALDS. Down 1-0 in this best-of-five series, the Yankees must somehow survive or overcome Cleveland’s Game 2 starter, the AL Cy Young Award favorite Corey Kluber, in order to avoid a daunting, 0-2 deficit.
“I couldn’t have fallen into a better situation,” Bruce said. “Obviously, when you get traded and you’re in trade rumors, it’s usually a contender or a team that’s contending at the moment. For whatever reason, I ended up here.”
The Yankees, with Greg Bird, Aaron Hicks and Matt Holliday all on the disabled list in early August, engaged the Mets on Bruce, who had cleared waivers. The Mets asked for two specific prospects, the identities of whom have yet to be divulged, in return, and the Yankees acquiesced on the condition that the Mets pay about 80 percent of the roughly $5 million in salary that Bruce still had coming to him.
The Subway Series rivals took those talks far down the road, but the Mets ultimately decided to swap Bruce to the Indians for fullsalary relief and minor league pitcher Ryder Ryan.
The unsuccessful resolution produced tension on both sides, and one heck of a tweet in the middle of Thursday’s game. The Indians’ Twitter account produced this gem: “Jay Bruce is on our team because our owner wrote a check that competitors for Jay wouldn’t.” Wow! Fighting words! It’s the Mets’ prerogative to opt for the money over the talent. Their frustrated fans can now scrutinize the decision in a shorter time period. Rather than wait out the development (or lack thereof) of multiple minor-league players, they can see if the Mets pour the money back into the team for the 2018 season.
Furthermore, according to a source involved with the talks, the Mets didn’t like one bit the idea of Bruce helping the Yankees’ pennant drive. As for the Yankees and the Twitter smackdown they received from their opponents, they felt that their offer included far better talent, which a big-market club like the Mets should desire over dollars, than Cleveland’s. Nevertheless, if they wanted Bruce badly enough, they could have included the players and the money.
That would all fall into the “Water under the bridge” category if not for the inconvenient truth of the Yankees falling victim to Bruce. His second-inning double off Sonny Gray, a line drive off the leftfield wall, kicked off a basesloaded, no-out rally that resulted in Bruce scoring the game’s first run.
With no outs in the fourth inning and Edwin Encarnacion having walked, Bruce connected on an 0and-1, chest-high fastball from Gray and skied it into right field. It at first appeared that it might land in Aaron Judge’s glove on the warning track. Instead, it carried into the right-field stands, giving the home team a 3-0 lead. Then came the sacrifice fly in the fifth off Yankees lefty reliever Jaime Garcia.
This time, the worst time, the Mets’ financial gain converts directly into Yankees pain.