The Yankees continued to thrive without captain Derek Jeter in the lineup on Saturday, as Robinson Cano hit a two-run triple to back six strong innings from Bartolo Colon in a 5-2 triumph.
Jeter’s replacement, Eduardo Nunez finished 3-for-4 with two doubles and a solo homer, while Curtis Granderson added a solo shot for the Yankees, who improved to 14-3 since their captain went on the disabled list with a calf injury.
“Nunie has played well, but Derek is our shortstop,” said Yankees manager Joe Girardi when asked if Nunez, who has gone 7-for-8 in the series, might threaten Jeter’s job. “He’s been here for a long, long time and he’s still a great player.”
Jeter played in a rehab game on Saturday and was 1-for-2 with a walk. He is expected to play for Double-A Trenton again on Sunday and rejoin the Yankees in Cleveland on Monday, as he continues his quest for 3,000 hits.
“He’s played well,” Jeter said of Nunez. “I texted him and told him to keep working. It seems like he is very confident. He’s done a great job. He’s gotten an opportunity to play and he’s doing well.”
Activated from the 15-day disabled list prior to the contest after suffering a left hamstring strain, Colon (6-3) yielded five hits while fanning six to win his fourth straight start.
“He’s kind of surprised us all year long,” Girardi added. “We weren’t sure what we were going to get out of him in spring training, but he pitched well from then, and that’s what he did today.”
Jason Bay and Lucas Duda drove in a run each for the Mets, losers of three straight. Dillon Gee (8-2) was tagged in defeat for seven hits and four runs over seven full frames, striking out seven with three walks.
To make matters worse, shortstop Jose Reyes left the game with a hamstring injury. He is slated to have an MRI on Sunday and is doubtful for today’s finale.
Getting the call for the Yankees this afternoon will be right-hander Freddy Garcia, who has won his last two starts. Garcia defeated the Milwaukee Brewers his last time out, as he allowed two runs and eight hits in six innings to run his record to 7-6 while lowering his earned run average to 3.28.
Garcia lost to the Mets earlier in the year despite giving up just two runs in seven innings and is 1-2 in three starts against them with a 2.61 ERA.
The Mets, meanwhile, will rely on knuckleballer R.A. Dickey, who is 4-7 on the year with a 3.77 ERA. Dickey won for the first time in four starts on Tuesday in Detroit, as he surrendered three runs and 10 hits in seven innings.
Dickey beat Garcia and the Yanks back on May 20, giving up just a run in six innings. For his career he is 3-1 against them with a 2.39 ERA in eight games, two of which have been starts.
The Yankees, who are a major league-best 13-4 in interleague play this season, took two of three from the Mets earlier in the year and are 12-5 against them since the start of the 2009 campaign.