NEW YORK – With his pitching staff depleted by injuries, New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi had only one choice: keep sending Vidal Nuno back out to the mound.
Nuno gave up a three-run homer to Curtis Granderson in a four-run first inning and things hardly got better for the fill-in starter Tuesday night as the Yankees were handily beaten by the Mets 12-7 for a two-game sweep in the Bronx.
"It's not something that we can go to our bullpen in the second inning. We just physically can't do it right now," Girardi said. "You can't ask these guys to continue to do this. It's not fair to them and their careers, so I knew I had to leave him out there."
Making his fifth start in place of injured Ivan Nova, out for the season following Tommy John surgery, Nuno gave up seven runs — five earned — on four hits, four walks and a hit batter in 3 1-3 innings.
The Yankees' pitching woes deepened, too. Reliever Shawn Kelley was placed on the 15-day disabled list, retroactive to May 7, with a bad back. After the game, Girardi said right-hander Chase Whitley will be called up from the minors to start in place of CC Sabathia on Thursday.
On the DL with right knee inflammation, Sabathia was examined by Dr. James Andrews.
"I think he agreed with the MRI and it's basically rest, get it to calm down, and see if we can get him back out there," Girardi said in relaying Andrews' opinion.
Granderson connected for the second consecutive game in his old ballpark, helping the Mets jump out to a quick lead after they used four homers to rally for a 9-7 victory the night before.
Daniel Murphy hit a three-run shot, David Wright had three hits and two RBIs, and Daisuke Matsuzaka (1-0) pitched 3 2-3 innings in relief of a wild Zack Wheeler. The Mets earned their sixth straight win against their crosstown rivals, including a 4-0 mark last year.
"It's nice to come here and feel good about yourself offensively, scoring some runs, hitting some homers," Wright said. "Hopefully that translates and gives us some momentum going back home."
Eric Young Jr. scored three runs without a hit, and the Mets won their third in a row overall to return to .500 after losing eight of nine. The Yankees learned right fielder Carlos Beltran has a bone spur in his right elbow that might require surgery, then lost their fourth in a row to drop to .500 for the first time since April 12. Both teams are 19-19.
The Subway Series shifts to Queens for the final two games, and Mets fans have several reasons to be excited. Pitching prospect Rafael Montero will make his big league debut Wednesday night against high-priced Yankees rookie Masahiro Tanaka.
This one lacked the frothy back and forth of the large crowd in the opener — perhaps the biggest cheer of the night from the 45,958 in attendance came when the final score of the New York Rangers' Game 7 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins was flashed on the scoreboard before the bottom of the sixth.
By then, the Mets had taken an 11-5 lead and both starters were long gone in a game that eventually lasted 3 hours, 58 minutes. A frustrated Girardi followed soon after, ejected after Kelly Johnson struck out looking to end the fifth.
The Mets took advantage of a sloppy Nuno (1-1) at the start. Young was hit by a pitch, Murphy walked on 10 pitches, Wright had an RBI single and, one out later, Granderson hit his fourth homer in 11 games. He had one in his first 26 games with the Mets.
"It was just one of those days," Nuno said. "It felt good in the bullpen and then I thought it would be carrying (over) in the game, but it didn't happen."
Brian McCann hit a two-run homer in the bottom half as the Yankees pulled to 4-3, but the Mets soon pulled away for good.
Third baseman Yangervis Solarte's errant throw to second while trying to start a double play led to two unearned runs in the fourth. Nuno was chased after Murphy's sacrifice fly. Wright greeted Alfredo Aceves with an RBI single to make it 7-3.
In the fifth, Murphy launched a soaring shot off Aceves toward the full moon hanging over the right field stands. Standing in the batter's box, still holding his bat, Murphy tried some body English to will it fair, and the ball hit high off the foul pole.
NOTES: The Mets have 13 homers in 19 games at Citi Field and six at Yankee Stadium in two. ... Babe Ruth's Hall of Fame plaque was displayed behind home plate during batting practice. It was the plaque's first time being displayed outside of Cooperstown, the home of the Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.