Sometimes the headline says it all. In the most 2020 ending imaginable, the Mets handed the injury-decimated Yankees their seventh loss, defeating the Bombers in walk-off fashion at Yankee Stadium, of all places. Trailing 3-2 in the seventh inning, Amed Rosario sunk the Yankees with a pinch-hit, two-run homer off closer Aroldis Chapman, completing the Mets’ two-game sweep of Friday’s doubleheader in the Bronx.
Obviously, there’s a lot to unpack here. A seventh-inning walk-off is odd enough—MLB recently instituted seven-inning doubleheaders, allowing teams and their overworked bullpens a slight reprieve amid countless COVID postponements. But the Yankees losing on a walk-off hit at their own home park absolutely takes the cake as one of the most gloriously bizarre happenings of an already off-the-rails 2020 MLB season.
For context, the Mets and Yankees were slated to play a three-game set at Citi Field last weekend, but the first installment of the Subway Series was later scrapped after two members of the Mets, including backup catcher Tomas Nido, tested posited for COVID-19. To make up for the lost time, the New York rivals decided to cram five games—two Friday and one Saturday with another doubleheader on tap for Sunday—into a hectic three-day span. Rather than shuttle back and forth between their respective home fields, the clubs opted to hold their entire five-game get-together at Yankee Stadium with the Mets serving as the nominal home team for Game 2 of both Friday and Sunday’s twin bills.
Per Elias Sports Bureau (hat tip to beat writer Anthony DiComo of MLB.com for tracking down this nugget), Rosario’s walk-off dinger was the first by an opposing player since 1899, two years before the Yankees (known in their earliest incarnation as the New York Highlanders) were even introduced. It sounds as if Chapman, who was making just his second appearance of 2020 following an extended bout with COVID, was not aware of the stakes when he took the hill in the seventh inning. Believing the Yankees would come up to bat again, Chapman signaled for a new ball after Rosario slugged the old one into the left-field seats. Unfortunately for Chapman, that would not be necessary as Rosario’s game-winner effectively put a bow on Friday night’s Bronx proceedings.
The Mets, who apparently are on the verge of being sold to billionaire Steve Cohen, also triumphed in the early portion of Friday’s double-dip, winning on the strength of a five-run sixth inning. That outburst was highlighted by Dominic Smith’s two-out homer to deep center, one of three round-trippers surrendered in the inning by Chad Green. It was obviously a special moment for Smith, whose go-ahead blast was accomplished while wearing the number 42 in honor of Jackie Robinson. One of a shrinking number of black players in MLB, Smith became very emotional following the Wisconsin tragedy earlier this week, shedding tears after Wednesday night’s game against the Marlins.
Luckily for the Mets and Yankees, only one game will be required of them Saturday with first pitch scheduled for 1:05 PM ET. Robert Gsellman (0-0, 7.71 ERA) and J.A. Happ (1-1, 6.39) will be on the bump for that one.