NEW YORK -- Michael Pineda was pleasantly surprised to be staked to a three-run lead before the New York Yankees even recorded their first out Saturday afternoon.
"I got three runs, so I felt confident saying, 'This is my day,'" Pineda said.
The right-handed pitcher was surprised again -- and this time not necessarily in a happy way -- five innings later, when manager Joe Girardi decided to end his day with a shutout intact.
Pineda could smile about it after he watched six relievers record the final 11 outs of the Yankees' 5-0 win over the New York Mets in the middle game of the Subway Series at Citi Field.
"I was a little upset, because I love pitching. If you take the mound, you never want to come off the mound, you know?" Pineda said. "But this is the game and Joe has the control for every single situation. I'm fine."
But was he surprised to hand the ball off after 5 1/3 impressive innings of four-hit ball in which he walked one and struck out four?
"A little," Pineda said with a grin.
The three-run homer in the first inning by right fielder Carlos Beltran relaxed Pineda, who had a 6.21 ERA in his previous six starts but allowed the Mets to get just one runner as far as second base in the first five innings Saturday.
A two-run homer by catcher Brian McCann in the top of the sixth gave Pineda (11-8) even more breathing room. But Girardi, whose bullpen entered Saturday with the third most innings in the American League (479), got left-hander Justin Wilson up after Pineda allowed back-to-back singles to pinch hitter Kelly Johnson and right fielder Curtis Granderson.
Girardi pulled Pineda after he struck out center fielder Yoenis Cespedes with his 86th pitch of the game and called on Wilson to face left-handed-hitting second baseman Daniel Murphy, who was 1-for-2 against Pineda.
"Just the at-bats that Murphy had on him before, I thought it was time for a change," Girardi said "So I went to 'Willy.'"
Wilson walked Murphy to load the bases before he struck out third baseman David Wright and pinch hitter Juan Uribe. Wilson struck out the first two batters of the seventh before giving way to right-hander Caleb Cotham, who struck out the only batter he faced before right-hander Dellin Betances struck out the first two batters in a perfect eighth.
Left-hander James Pazos retired Murphy leading off the ninth, after which Girardi called on right-hander Chris Martin. But Martin gave up a pair of two-out singles to pinch hitter Michael Cuddyer and shortstop Wilmer Flores, at which point Girardi left the dugout yet again and called on his closer, left-hander Andrew Miller, in a non-save situation.
Martin got pinch hitter Travis d'Arnaud to ground into a fielder's choice to finally end the first 5-0 shutout in history in which the winning team used seven pitchers.
With the Yankees trying to gain ground on the Toronto Blue Jays in the AL East race, Girardi was unapologetic for his day-long quick hook.
"I thought our bullpen did a good job today," Girardi said. "It was important that they hold this lead for us today. Wins are at a premium right now for us."
Beltran, who singled ahead of McCann's homer, was the only player on either team with two hits.
"Once we scored five early in the game, we felt like we had a pretty good chance of winning," Beltran said. "We have a lot of confidence in our bullpen and they came in and did the job."
The Mets (84-64) lost for the third time in four games as their NL East lead fell to 7 1/2 games over the Washington Nationals, pending the Nationals' game against the Miami Marlins later Saturday. The Mets' magic number for winning the NL East is eight.
"You know when you get into that bullpen they have some guys at the end of that bullpen that are lights out," Wright said. "So the game plan is try to get a lead early, keep adding on. And we weren't able to do that today."
Syndergaard (8-7) allowed the five runs on seven hits and no walks while striking out eight over six innings.
"I thought today he threw the ball very, very well," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "You took the two swings away, pretty good game."
NOTES: Mets manager Terry Collins said RHP Logan Verrett will take RHP Jacob deGrom's turn in the rotation Tuesday against the Atlanta Braves. DeGrom ranks among the National League's top 10 in ERA (2.64) and strikeouts (189) but has a 6.41 ERA in his last five starts. ... Mets RHP Tyler Clippard (back) was unavailable for a second straight game. Clippard's back seized while playing catch Friday afternoon. ... Yankees manager Joe Girardi said RHP Masahiro Tanaka remains on schedule to pitch Wednesday. Tanaka has made just five starts this season on four days' rest, including three this month. ... Girardi said DH Alex Rodriguez, who leads the Yankees with 32 homers and 83 RBIs, will not play first base this weekend because he didn't look comfortable working out there in Boston earlier this month.