”It’s an honor to be around him,” teammate Michael Wacha said.
Smith hit the go-ahead home run in his first game since tearfully pleading for help combating racial inequality, Pete Alonso also connected and the New York Mets beat the crosstown Yankees 6-4 in the opener of a doubleheader Friday.
Smith, a 25-year-old Black man, wept Wednesday night reflecting on a recent shooting by police of a Black man in Wisconsin. Smith and the Mets were all smiles after his decisive solo shot against Chad Green in the sixth inning on what was Jackie Robinson Day around the majors.
Alonso pounded on the dugout railing and the Mets bench went wild while Smith rounded the bases at Yankee Stadium. Inspired by the emotional comments from the usually upbeat Smith, the Mets staged a walkout protest against racial injustice with the Miami Marlins on Thursday night.
”With what he’s lived in the last two days emotionally, and what we lived, too, supporting him as well, it was pretty special for sure,” Mets manager Luis Rojas said. Rojas also praised Smith’s on-field focus amid his off-field efforts.
Smith was not made available to reporters between games, even with the nightcap delayed by forecasted rain.
”Just a great human being,” said Wacha, who is in his first season as Smith’s teammate. ”Very passionate, just loves this game more than anything. One of the best teammates I’ve been around. It’s been an honor to lace them up with him.
Smith’s drive followed a tying three-run shot by the struggling Alonso, and Jake Marisnick also connected in the inning against Green (2-2), who had been the Yankees’ most reliable reliever this season.
”I think he got a couple pitches where he wanted, they just put better swings on it,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said.
The Yankees lost their sixth in a row.
Mets reliever Dellin Betances, making his first appearance against his former team, allowed two runners in the sixth but escaped on Gary Sanchez’s popup. Edwin Diaz struck out the side in the ninth for his second save.
The teams are set to play five games in three days to make up for games at Citi Field postponed last weekend after two members of the Mets tested positive for the coronavirus.
Clint Frazier homered, drove in three and reached base four times for the Yankees as a fill-in for injured Aaron Judge. New York’s everyday right fielder was placed back on the 10-day injured list Friday with a recurrence of a left calf strain after aggravating the injury in his return from the IL on Wednesday.
Frazier is batting .344 with a 1.182 OPS in 10 games this season.
Yankees left-hander Jordan Montgomery pitched one-run ball through five innings but allowed singles to J.D. Davis and Michael Conforto leading off the sixth before Green relieved to face Alonso. The 2019 NL Rookie of the Year was hitting .184 with runners in scoring position before sending Green’s 3-2 fastball out to center field.
Smith scored the Mets’ first run after being hit by a pitch, advancing on third baseman Miguel Andujar‘s error and scoring on a wild pitch.
Walker Lockett (1-0) pitched two scoreless innings in relief for the Mets. He was designated for assignment between games to create roster space for nightcap starter David Peterson.
Luke Voit had three hits for the Yankees.
JACKIE ROBINSON DAY
Boone broke down in tears during a pregame press conference and left the room when he was asked about his two Black adopted sons. He returned a few minutes later, still shaken.
”I would just say, I know I’m talking to a lot of people out there, it’s a hard, heavy year, and a heartbreaking year in so many ways,” Boone said. ”For my family, too. But I think that’s the case for a lot of people of all different backgrounds and races.
”My prayer is just that we can continue to, even though we’re going through some dark times, at the end of this, we’re better for it. That’s my continued prayer.”
Boone said he will donate his paycheck Friday to The Players Alliance, a group of more than 100 current and former Black major leaguers working to combat racial injustice.
Mets: RHP Wacha (right shoulder) was activated from the injured list and allowed four runs in three innings starting Game 1. … IF Andres Gimenez was activated from the COVID-19 injured list, and Marisnick was activated from the 10-day IL after recovering from a left hamstring strain. … RHP Corey Oswalt was placed on the injured list with right biceps tendinitis. … OF Juan Lagares was designated for assignment and RHP Drew Smith was optioned to the alternate site. … C Patrick Mazeika was added as the 29th man for the doubleheader. … OF Guillermo Heredia was claimed off waivers from Pittsburgh and sent to the Mets’ alternate site.
Yankees: 3B Gio Urshela was held out with a bone spur in his right elbow and is day to day. … Prized CF prospect Estevan Florial was promoted to be the 29th man and made his debut in the opener batting seventh. He singled for his first big league hit in the fifth. … SS Jordy Mercer was promoted from the alternate site and used as a defensive replacement. … LHP Luis Avilan was released.
Peterson (3-1, 2.91) has been out with left shoulder fatigue. He’ll face Yankees RHP Jonathan Loaisiga (2-0, 2.77) in Game 2. The Mets don’t know who will start Saturday, while the Yankees plan to start LHP J.A. Happ (1-1, 6.39).
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