Francisco Lindor probably won’t have to worry about Mets fans booing him anymore.
He hit three home runs — including a go-ahead shot in the bottom of the eighth inning — and was the epicenter of a benches-clearing episode with Giancarlo Stanton as the Mets beat the Yankees, 7-6, in an epic Subway Series finale Sunday night and Monday morning.
In a disappointing debut season with his new team, Lindor’s big game instantly ranked as his signature Mets moment.
"This is the Francisco that we all expect," manager Luis Rojas said. "This is the Francisco that the Mets' fan base is going to get for years."
Lindor said: "I don’t think Mets fans forget things, but it definitely probably helped them to start to believe in me a little bit more. Or continue to believe in me a little bit more."
It was after his middle homer that Lindor ignited the extracurriculars. During his trip around the bases, he put his fingers in his mouth to whistle, gesticulating emphatically at several Yankees, including shortstop Gleyber Torres, reliever Wandy Peralta and third baseman Gio Urshela, Lindor’s best friend.
Inspiring Lindor’s taunts was the Yankees’ purported chicanery Saturday night. The Mets believed the Yankees were whistling to signal to their batters which pitch Taijuan Walker was going to throw during his three-homer second inning.
Stanton and Joey Gallo disputed that story, blaming the whistling on — coincidentally, apparently — Peralta, who was in the dugout early in Saturday’s game and tried to inject energy into a dugout that needed it.
"I knew what I heard. I felt like there was something out of the ordinary going on," Lindor said. "I heard what I heard. I’m not accusing them. I’m not saying they’re doing it 100%, because I don’t know 100%. But it definitely felt that way. And I took that personally."
It is not clear why Lindor felt so strongly. If the Yankees were communicating pitch signs they picked up without the use of electronics, that is within MLB’s rules.
"It’s part of the game," Lindor acknowledged. "Yeah, I took it personal."
Stanton got involved after hitting a tying two-run homer in the top of the seventh, slowing down near second base to shout at Lindor. As he finished circling the bases, both dugouts and bullpens emptied slowly. Dozens of grown men milled about for a minute until order was restored.
During the scrum, Brett Gardner offered a double-thumbs-down in the direction of Lindor and Javier Baez, who last month used that hand symbol as a way to boo Mets fans.
"Both teams probably misinterpreted right there," Lindor said. "I’m not trying to fight nobody. I’m sure Stanton wasn’t trying to fight me either."
Yankees manager Aaron Boone said of Stanton’s role: "You guys saw Lindor when he went around the bases. We gave a little bit back. Boys will be boys."
Lindor had the last word — and the win. His last homer clanked off the railing of the second deck in rightfield.
Upon returning to the dugout, he popped back out for a curtain call from the suddenly adoring Citi Field crowd just as Yankees reliever Chad Green threw his next pitch.
"When I came out of the dugout and I acknowledged them, it was special for sure," Lindor said. "We all want that."
Yankees spot starter Clarke Schmidt (4 1/3 innings, five runs, two earned) gave up Lindor’s first homer, a three-run shot in the second inning. That erased the early damage done against Carlos Carrasco (five innings, two runs). Lindor added a solo shot off Peralta in the sixth.
The game ended with Stanton, of all people, sending a soft pop-up to the third-base area. Lindor ran over from shortstop to catch it for the final out — at 12:17 a.m., 4 hours and 6 minutes after first pitch. That stranded runners on second and third and secured Edwin Diaz’s first save in his past three tries.
With 18 games to go, the Mets are five games behind NL East-leading Atlanta — but suddenly they’re only three behind in the race for the last NL wild-card spot.
"It was a good day," Lindor said. "I’m glad we ended up on top."
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