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For over two decades, the New York Mets lived in the shadow of the Yankees – the titles, wins, and history in general are all in favor of the Bronx Bombers. Thursday night was the first time in history where the two teams faced each other while both teams were in sole possession of first place in their respective divisions.
Now, with new ownership willing to spend what has proven to work for the club in Queens, the Subway Series has a whole different meaning, especially in late July.
It is, perhaps, the biggest Subway Series since the 2000 World Series.
The Mets took the first meeting between the teams on Tuesday, 6-3, and it was a postseason atmosphere at Citi Field – a ballpark that has not seen such a thing in almost six years.
Pete Alonso, #20 of the New York Mets, reacts after hitting an RBI double during the first inning against the New York Mets at Citi Field on July 26, 2022 in New York Citi Field (Adam Hunger/Getty Images)
“It’s a privilege to play in this environment,” said current Mets, and former Yankees, manager Buck Showalter.
After history seemed to repeat itself with the Yanks jumping out to an early 2-0 lead, Eduardo Escobar gave the Mets the lead for good with his two-run home run in the first inning, giving the ballpark an insane jolt of energy.
Escobar has played in two postseasons, including the 2017 wild card game in the Bronx, but he understood the effect of this series for his team and its fans.
“It was honestly like a World Series home run,” Escobar said through a translator. “I’ve never played in an environment like that… Honestly, it felt like a World Series environment.”
“It’s one thing to hear from it, and you hear a lot of the stories, but it’s one thing to actually play in it, to live it,” he added. “The environment was unbelievable… Hitting that home run, it felt like my first big league home run, honestly.”
New York Mets first baseman Pete Alonso, #20, celebrates his game tying homer with New York Mets shortstop Francisco Lindor, #12, during the game between the Houston Astros and the New York Mets on Wednesday, March 30, 2022 at Clover Park in Port Saint Lucie, FL (Peter Joneleit/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Pete Alonso won two Home Run Derbies in front of sold-out crowds and was a key hitter for the Mets’ late-season run in 2019, when they finished just shy of a postseason appearance.
However, he also knows that Thursday night’s crowd was as close as one could get to an October atmosphere. Alonso tied the game with a single in the first.
“I’ve never played in a major league playoff game before, but if I had to guess, that’s what it would be like,” he said.
New York Mets manager Buck Showalter, #11, looks on during the MLB baseball game between the New York Mets and the Arizona Diamondbacks on April 24, 2022 at Chase Field in Phoenix, Arizona. (Kevin Abele/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
The Mets will look for the two-game sweep Wednesday night and are the heavy favorites as they will have Max Scherzer on the bump – the Yanks will go with Domingo German.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.