NEW YORK -- Luis Severino bounced back from the worst start of his career while Gary Sanchez flexed his muscle by driving in five runs, helping the Yankees complete a four-game sweep of this year's Subway Series with a 7-5 victory over the Mets on Thursday evening at Citi Field.
One outing after being rocked for a career-high 10 runs (eight earned) by the Red Sox, Severino recaptured the form that has elevated him into the Yanks' ace this season, holding the Mets to an unearned run and four hits over 6 1/3 innings to pick up his fifth victory in six starts.
"I was ahead in the count almost all the time," said Severino, who is 5-1 with a 2.28 ERA in seven starts since the All-Star break. "I tried to do that. I think the last time, I tried to pitch around the batters. This time, I just went after them."
Sanchez hit a three-run homer in the first inning off Steven Matz and added a two-run single in the fourth off Chasen Bradford as the Yankees closed within four games of the idle Red Sox in the American League East chase. The Bombers are scheduled to open a key three-game series in Boston on Friday.
New York also holds a 3 1/2-game lead over the Angels for the first Wild Card spot in the AL and is four games up on the next contender, Kansas City, which leads a whopping seven teams within three games of a playoff berth.
"These are really important games for us, because the clock is ticking," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "The most important thing is getting the wins, especially this time of year."
This marks the second time that the Yankees have swept a season Subway Series, having also done so with six victories in 2003.
"At this point in the season, it's all about winning games," Brett Gardner said. "Obviously, when we play the Mets, it's exciting for us as players to experience the Subway Series. It's fun to come over and play here at Citi Field, and I'm happy we played well."
The Mets fell a season-high 13 games under .500 for the first time since the final day of the 2013 season, when they were 14 under at 74-88.
"It's frustrating, especially against the Yankees," Mets outfielder Michael Conforto said. "Obviously, we want to beat our rivals and not get swept by them. In our park, it's tough to lose a couple here. But it's over with. All we can do is look forward to tomorrow."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED He is Gary, and that is gone: Sanchez had already seen Matz's curveball, sinker and fastball when the left-hander decided to throw an 83.4-mph changeup on the eighth pitch of their first-inning battle, and Sanchez crushed it a projected 385 feet, according to Statcast™, over the wall in left field. Sanchez has collected six homers and 13 RBIs this month, with five of those homers coming in his last nine games. He tallied 11 homers and 21 RBIs in 24 games last August.
"I didn't think it was going out," Sanchez said through an interpreter. "I hit it right on the barrel but I was a little off-balance, so I didn't think it was going to go out." More >
Luis, Luis: None of Severino's achievements on the mound have seemed to generate as much genuine enthusiasm as his first big league hit, a bunt popup in the fourth inning that eluded first baseman Dominic Smith. Severino raised his hands in the air after his soft knock, which loaded the bases with none out to set up Gardner's two-run double and Sanchez's two-run single.
"A hit is a hit. I'll take it," Severino said, with a laugh. "It was not the hit that I wanted." More >
"He was throwing high velocity and he was around the zone. He was throwing literally anything at any time." -- Granderson, on Severino
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Granderson now has 95 home runs with the Mets and 115 with the Yankees. He is the only player to hit at least 60 with each team, and is one of three players to appear in 500 or more games for multiple New York teams. Willie Keeler (Yankees, Dodgers) and Bill Dahlen (Dodgers, Giants) are the others, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
WHAT'S NEXT Yankees: Left-hander Jordan Montgomery draws the start on Friday as the Yankees open their three-game showdown with the first-place Red Sox at Fenway Park. Left-hander Drew Pomeranz is scheduled to start for Boston in the 7:10 p.m. ET contest.
Mets: The Mets will try to tame one of the league's hottest hitters, Giancarlo Stanton, when the Marlins come to Citi Field for a three-game series beginning Friday at 7:10 p.m. ET. Stanton's 18 second-half homers pace the Majors. Rookie Chris Flexen will attempt to quiet him, starting opposite left-hander Justin Nicolino.