Strike 3 was a 93mph slider, the kind of terrain that would have made even Rogers Hornsby think about farm life. Gleyber Torres didn’t stand a chance, like so many others stood no chance while standing 60 feet, six inches from Edwin Diaz this year.
Citi Field’s orange and blue faction exploded. The striped block began the long, bitter march to the parking lot and the subway platform. The Mets had beaten the Yankees 6-3, Game 1 of what may well be the most anticipated Subway Series regular season game since the first 25 years ago.
“We’ve played a lot of emotional games here already, every time you play in New York in front of our fans there’s real commitment; you can understand why the level is a little different tonight,” Mets manager Buck Showalter said.
“And rightly so. Pressure is what you make of it. It’s a privilege to play in this environment, to have fun, to learn something from it, to come back to it as we go along and hopefully to be able to use it if we do what what we are trying to do.
Yankees coach Aaron Boone, whose team is in its first rough run of the season (10-11 in July) said, “It wasn’t going to be perfect all year. Tonight, we couldn’t cash in enough.
It was a game in the middle of what has been one of baseball’s most satisfying summers in years, two first-place teams engaged in an old-school intramural tilt. For one night, Mets fans could ignore the Braves on the out-of-town scoreboard. For one night, Yankees fans could stop worrying about the Astros.
For one night it was all about us.
All about New York, New York.
It was not a good match, far from it. Both teams kicked the ball a bit. The Mets chased Jordan Montgomery out of the game after 2 ¹/₃ innings by increasing his pitch count. Taijuan Walker watched on the brink of calamity on just about every pitch in his six-inning, three-run night’s work.
“If you pitch in 30 games, you’re going to have five stinks,” Montgomery explained.
But we don’t judge these games on style. We rate on a different curve when it comes to the Subway series. Thus, in the first set alone, there were several opportunities for both sides to shout each other out. When Aaron Judge and Anthony Rizzo connected for home runs on back-to-back pitches off the top of the first, you could – if you closed your eyes – imagine everyone was actually on the other side of the RFK bridge.
In the bottom half, the Mets had beaten Montgomery for four runs, including two on home runs by Starling Marte and Eduardo Escobar. You could hear the roar of the 7 line all the way through the Catskills. It was the same deafening thunder that greeted Diaz’s 93mph slider – pure, unmitigated dirt – about three hours later.
“You know,” Showalter said, “there’s going to be a lot of ebb and flow in this game.”
Get all the latest live, local coverage from The New York Post as the Yankees and Mets square off for Game 1 of the 2022 Subway Series.
Showalter may well have an opportunity ahead of him, should the rest of the year and the rest of his contract go like the first 97 games, as he is all but certain he is destined for a unique place in the baseball pantheon of New York. : among the most significant personalities to represent the two organizations.
(One man’s top 5: 1. Johnny Murphy, Yanks All-Star pitcher in the 30s and 40s, general manager and architect of the ’69 Mets; 2. Casey Stengel (his number IS retired by both teams, after everything); Yogi Berra (led both teams to Game 7 of the World Series; 4. Willie Randolph (played on two Yankees champions and coached five, severely underrated as a manager with the Mets, guiding them to one of only six first places in their history; 5. Gus Mauch, coach for 10 Yankees championships and the 1969 Mets).
That’s another topic for another day.
For this day, the Mets will savor a full stadium and the feel-good vibes of winning the first of four Tests for bragging rights this year. The Yankees had to think about Wednesday’s German Max Scherzer-Domingo game, and Boone spent a few minutes on the postgame hot plate (quite rightly so) for dispatching slugger Joey Gallo (who struck out 38% of his at-bats) to face Edwin Diaz, who has struck out 52% of the batters he has faced.
Free pie if you can guess what happened next.
Wednesday is a new canvas, a fresh start and another splendid slice of a summer that rekindled New York’s still-quivering love affair with baseball. Two first place teams. All about us. All about New York, New York.