On the 20th anniversary of 9/11, the Mets and Yankees didn’t disappoint in staging an emotional pregame ceremony and equally riveting nine innings.
After players from each team mingled before the first pitch, lining up side by side and exchanging hugs, the Subway rivals produced a classic that finally tilted in the Yankees’ direction.
Pete Alonso’s smash to center field in the eighth inning faded into Brett Gardner’s glove. Aaron Judge’s towering shot a half-inning earlier reached the seats. There you had the difference in the Yankees’ 8-7 victory over the Mets before a patriotic sellout of 43,144 at Citi Field.
“I think overall it was a special night for New York,” Taijuan Walker said.
Even with the victory, the Yankees — who snapped a seven-game losing streak — moved into a tie with the Blue Jays (who swept a doubleheader against Baltimore) for the AL’s second wild card.
“One of those where we needed everyone, we used almost everyone and yeah, it definitely feels good,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said.
The Mets lost for the third time in four games and missed an opportunity to gain ground on Atlanta. They remain five games behind the Braves in the NL East.
With two runners on base in the eighth, Alonso hit a shot to center against Albert Abreu that at first appeared to have a chance of leaving the yard. It was caught by Gardner to end the Mets’ rally before Aroldis Chapman worked a scoreless ninth, leaving the tying run at third base.
The Yankees took an 8-7 lead in the eighth on a throwing error by Javier Baez that brought in the go-ahead run. On the play, Baez took a throw from Francisco Lindor on Luke Voit’s grounder to shortstop and got the out at second. But with Gleyber Torres bearing down on him, Baez airmailed the throw to first, allowing Andrew Velazquez to score.
“I know it’s Sept. 11, but it definitely had the feel of a playoff game,” Brett Gardner said.
Judge scrapped the narrative of a Mets catcher leading the team to victory on the 20th anniversary of 9/11 by swatting his second homer of the game, a two-run blast earlier in the inning against Trevor May that tied it 7-7.
In the sixth, James McCann blasted a two-run homer that had given the Mets their first lead of the night. It came with Mike Piazza in attendance as part of events commemorating 9/11. Piazza hit the most celebrated home run in Mets’ history on Sept. 21, 2001 — the first game following the attacks on the World Trade Center — to help his team beat the Braves.
That Judge’s game-tying homer came against May can’t be overlooked, two days after the reliever told The Post he was glad these games were at Citi Field and not Yankee Stadium.
“Fortunately we are playing in our graveyard of a park, so that is helpful,” May said Thursday. “We will keep the 314-foot homers to a minimum.”
Judge’s blast traveled 413 feet and cleared the fence in left-center. Aaron Loup was summoned to replace May with nobody out after Giancarlo Stanton singled following Judge’s homer.
Seth Lugo needed only seven innings to pitch a scoreless seventh, but manager Luis Rojas said he wanted May’s four-seam fastball against the middle of the Yankees’ lineup.
“May has been throwing the ball well for us lately, he has been placing the four-seamer well,” Rojas said.
Jeff McNeil walked leading off the sixth against Chad Green. After a delay for a fan running on the field and initially eluding security (he was tackled from behind in center field) Kevin Pillar struck out. Green went 1-1 to McCann, who smashed a 96-mph fastball over the left-field fence to give the Mets their first lead at 6-5.
Walker retired the last 13 batters he faced — with seven strikeouts during that stretch — after barely surviving a second inning in which he allowed three homers to place the Mets in a five-run hole.
Overall, he allowed five earned runs on six hits and one walk with eight strikeouts over six innings. The three homers allowed increased his post-All Star break total to 17.
“It was just a bad second inning,” Walker said. “We might have thought I was tipping [pitches] and that is why [Jonathan] Villar came out and talked to me. It seems like we fixed it. After that second inning I was just cruising after that.”
The Mets began their comeback from a five-run deficit in the second against Corey Kluber. The unlikely contribution came from Walker, who delivered an RBI single that sliced the Yankees’ lead to 5-3.
Walker allowed homers to Kyle Higashioka, Gardner and Judge in the second that gave the Yankees a 5-0 lead.
Higashioka hit a 96 mph fastball that was above the strike zone into the left-field seats for a two-run homer following Torres’ leadoff single in the inning. DJ LeMahieu delivered a two-out single before Gardner cleared the fence in right-center to extend the Yankees’ lead to 4-0. On the seventh pitch of the next at-bat, Judge homered.
“We’ve needed a win so it’s certainly nice to grab one,” Boone said. “It wasn’t easy racing out to a big lead and to give it back and then some.”