There were plenty of Yankees jerseys in the sellout crowd at Citi Field on Tuesday night for the first game of the 2022 Subway Series.
But Mets fans came out in much greater numbers in their home ballpark, as you would expect, and were much louder as the evening’s festivities began.
From the pregame lineup announcements to the ceremonial first pitch thrown by Darryl Strawberry to the boos when Aaron Judge stepped into the box for the second at-bat of the game, Mets fans owned the place.
One swing from Judge changed that for a while. Judge launched a solo home run off Taijuan Walker into the Yankees bullpen in right-centerfield for his 38th homer.
Anthony Rizzo followed with a back-to-back, opposite-field blast to left to give the Yankees a two-run lead and give their fans an early shot at baseball New York bragging rights.
Very early, as it turned out.
The Mets scored four runs of their own in the bottom of the first and went on to a 6-3 victory before 42,364.
Starling Marte, the second batter in the home half of the first, homered to left off Jordan Montgomery to bring the Mets to within 2-1. Francisco Lindor and Pete Alonso followed with back-to-back doubles and the game was tied.
One batter later, Eduardo Escobar lined a two-run homer to left. 4-2, Mets.
The place went nuts. Mets fans were on their feet. A derisive chant about the Yankees often heard at Fenway Park broke out.
And that was after one full inning. Oh, it was on.
“It felt like a World Series environment,” Escobar said through an interpreter.
It felt like something else to the Yankees, who went 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position, left 10 men on base, had a runner picked off first in the second and another thrown out at second on the back end of a would-be double steal in the seventh.
“Tonight was just not being able to cash in enough,” manager Aaron Boone said. “We obviously had the back-to-back homers in the first and then just about every inning we had opportunities and weren’t able to punch through.”
The Mets made it 5-2 in the third on Marte’s leadoff double and a run-scoring throwing error by Josh Donaldson.
DJ LeMahieu’s bases-loaded RBI groundout in the fourth brought the Yankees to within 5-3 and brought Judge to the plate with two outs. Walker walked him on four pitchers to reload the bases and fell behind Rizzo 3-and-0 before Rizzo swung and hit a ball to the warning track in left-center. The wanna-be grand slam settled harmlessly into the glove of Brandon Nimmo to end the inning.
Walker (8-2, 2.67 ERA) settled in from there. He went six innings and allowed three runs. Montgomery (3-3, 3.50 ERA) lasted 2 1/3 innings and was charged with five runs (four earned).
The Yankees had a golden opportunity to cut into the Mets’ lead against Adam Ottavino in the seventh.
Judge singled with one out and Rizzo was hit by a pitch (it took a Yankees replay review challenge to confirm this after it was initially ruled a not-hit-by-pitch).
With Gleyber Torres batting, Judge and Rizzo attempted a double steal. Tomas Nido threw to second to nab Rizzo for the second out. The Yankees challenged this, too, but the call stood. Ottavino then got Torres to pop to Alonso to end the threat.
Ottavino stayed on for the eighth and retired the first two batters before walking Aaron Hicks. Boone sent up Joey Gallo to pinch hit for Isiah Kiner-Falefa.
Mets manager Buck Showalter – who said he would have left Ottavino in to face Kiner-Falefa -- brought in Edwin Diaz, who quite predictably struck out Gallo on a 2-and-2 slider.
Jeff McNeil’s two-out RBI single in the eighth made it 6-3.
In the ninth, Diaz picked up his 22nd save. But not before same major drama of his own making.
Jose Trevino led off with an infield single. LeMahieu struck out. Judge hit a chopper back to Diaz, who turned and tried to throw to second. But the ball slipped out of his hand for an error to bring up the potential tying run.
“I was hoping he’d throw it to first,” Showalter said. “That’s kind of the way Edwin’s wired – always attacking.”
No worries, though. Diaz struck out Rizzo and Torres to end it.
Advantage, Mets. And Max Scherzer faces Domingo German on Wednesday night in the two-game series finale. Citi Field should be rocking again.
The Yankees lead the regular season series, 76-59. The Mets won four of six meetings in 2021, the first time since 2013 the boys from Queens took the season series.
This year’s matchup has a lot of juice because the Yankees have the best record in baseball and the Mets have the second-best record in the National League.
According to Elias, the only time the teams met before when they were both in first place was in April 2015. Each club had played only 16 games.
This Subway Series is the first one for Showalter, who managed the Yankees from 1992-‘95. Interleague play began in 1997.