As day cooled into night at Yankee Stadium, Pete Alonso, the Mets first baseman, settled into the batters box and waited for just the right heat to come his way during the top of the first inning.
Yankees pitcher James Paxton started him with a knuckle curve, followed with a four-seam fastball and watched Alonso foul off three straight pitches.
Paxton tried to bait Alonso with a ball in the dirt, but the tenderfoot proved patient. Finally, on the eighth pitch of the at-bat, a high fastball spun toward Alonso at a speed of 95 miles per hour, he swung. Alonsos bat connected with the ball and rerouted it 424 feet for a three-run homer in front of 44,698 fans.
I thought this was a blast, Alonso said of his immersion into the rivalry. This environment was nuts.
Alonsos latest laser was the Mets opening salvo in the nightcap. Having lost to the Yankees, 12-5, during the first game of the Subway Series doubleheader on Tuesday, the Mets managed a split with three home runs beneath the lights to win, 10-4, behind starting pitcher Jason Vargas.
To rough up a guy like that, thats huge resilience for us, Alonso said of Paxton.
For a team seesawing its way through the season, it was a daylong reminder that the Mets (33-34) have yet to find a formula that gets them to .500 or better.
Were not going to give up, Mets Manager Mickey Callaway said between games. Were going to get to .500 and then were going to take off at some point.
For the Yankees (41-25), it was the shortest homestand of the season after dropping four of the six games they played on their most recent road trip. They will head to Chicago next as they continue to negotiate the schedule with an injury-riddled roster that has placed a premium on resourcefulness.
It was a brilliant day for a doubleheader. After heavy rain on Monday night forced the first game to be postponed, the skies cleared and both teams forgot how to play defense. In the opener, they combined to commit five errors. At night, Yankees third baseman Gio Urshela decided to not square up when a ball headed his way. Instead, he turned his back to home plate and failed to catch the ball when it came over his head.
There was one defensive highlight, but it happened so early in the day it was easy to miss. The Mets leadoff hitter, Jeff McNeil, lined a fastball from Yankees pitcher Masahiro Tanaka the opposite way in the first inning of the opener, and it appeared destined to land on a patch of grass in the outfield.
But Yankees left fielder Brett Gardner reacted quickly, sprinted to his left, laid out for the ball and caught it backhanded to record the out.
It was the Yankees way of welcoming their crosstown rival to the Bronx. Though McNeil rebounded to give the Mets a 4-1 lead when he hit a three-run homer on the first pitch of his second at-bat, the Yankees answered with a five-run inning in the bottom of the fourth.
On a day of errors by both defenses, the Yankees overcame three of them by taking Mets starting pitcher Zack Wheeler deep twice in the fourth inning. Urshela struck first when he stroked a two-run homer to tie the score at 4-4. Designated hitter Luke Voit followed suit with a three-run homer to take a 7-4 lead.
Wheeler only lasted four and two-thirds innings. He yielded 10 hits, and five of the nine runs he allowed were earned. Reliever Wilmer Font proceeded to allow another three hits and an earned run.
Its crazy, Voit said. It just shows no matter who is hitting one, two, five or eight, were going to rise to the punch and get the job done.
It wasnt all pretty. The sloppy play started in the third inning with Yankees shortstop Didi Gregorius throwing wide to first base and pulling first baseman Kendrys Morales off the bag. Then, in the fourth inning, Morales failed to catch a ball thrown to him, and was charged with an error. Sanchez dropped a foul pop, as well.
But the costliest miscue was made by a Met in the opener. Third baseman Todd Frazier committed a throwing error with two outs in the fourth to allow D.J. LeMahieu to reach base. Aaron Hicks walked, and Voit homered for the 16th time.
Once I threw it, I knew it was going the wrong direction, Frazier said. That was on me. Turned into a bigger inning because I couldnt get the ball to first base.
The rivals will re-engage at Citi Field on July 2 and 3. As they departed the Bronx, the Yankees appeared to be running on the express track with a playoff destination in sights.
Meanwhile, the Mets looked to be on the local track, where they continue to move from series to series as if rocking back and forth aware that the season could go off the rails or result in a wild ride.
Hopefully well win or sweep the next series, Alonso said.
Dellin Betances, the Yankees star relief pitcher who has been out since spring training with a right shoulder injury, has a low grade strain of his right latissimus dorsi muscle and will be shut down for a couple weeks, Manager Aaron Boone said. Betances had been facing hitters at the teams spring training complex in Tampa, Fla., last week when he suffered the setback and had a magnetic resonance imaging examination on Tuesday.