Mets, Yankees fire up emotional rivalry

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NEW YORK — Just 24 hours after the Mets and Yankees preached love and unity, these two New York teams turned back their lovefest into a ferocious Subway Series rivalry Sunday evening at Citi Field.

Instead of hugging one another, they were screaming, whistling, cursing, chirping, trash-talking, and almost fighting, with fiery accusations of cheating.

It was a game in which Mets shortstop Francisco Lindor hit a career-high three home runs, and Yankees slugger Giancarlo Stanton hit a home run and stopped during his trot to yell at Lindor, triggering a bench-clearing incident after Stanton crossed the plate.

“There’s a lot at stake, obviously a nice rivalry,” Stanton said. “Both teams are in a tight race, in a tight hunt. Emotions are going to be up there.

“Yeah, that’s how the games go.”

The incident charged up the frenzied crowd of 33,805 that watched the Mets hang on for a 7-6 victory, marking the first time the Mets won the Subway Series since 2013.

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Mets shortstop reacts in the eighth inning after hitting his third home run against the Yankees in a 7-6 win.

Mets shortstop reacts in the eighth inning after hitting his third home run against the Yankees in a 7-6 win.

While Lindor and Stanton each spoke afterward, discussing why they were yelling at one another, they later admitted that it might have been a giant misunderstanding.

It all, apparently, centered around loud whistling by Yankees reliever Wandy Peralta.

The Mets believed that Peralta was cheating on Saturday night with his loud whistling from the bench, tipping off pitches that Mets starter Taijuan Walker was throwing in the second inning when he gave up three home runs.

“I can’t accuse them for whistling for the signs,” Lindor said,”so I’m not 100% sure, but I felt something out of the ordinary was going on. I heard what I heard. … I don’t know if they’re tipping, but it sounds like something is going on.

“I took it personal.”

So when Lindor hit his second homer of the night in the sixth inning, he circled the bases, yelled at Peralta, and whistled towards the Yankees’ bench.

“I told him to keep on whistling,” Lindor said. “I’m not trying to disrespect the game. I’m not sure if I did it to their dugout, but I did to Gleyber [Torres, his closest friend on the Yankees.] I was like, “Let’s be more subtle.’ …

“I have no beef against them. I’m not trying to fight anybody. That’s not me. I don’t go out there fighting people. And I don’t think Stanton was trying to fight me either.”

Well, one inning and one swing later, Stanton hit a two-run, 443-foot shot into the left-center-field seats, tying the game at 6. He rounded second base, looked at Lindor and stopped. He yelled at him. And then he resumed his home-run trot as the Mets’ players became livid.

It resurrected the incident of 2013 when Carlos Gomez of the Milwaukee Brewers hit a homer off the Atlanta Braves, admired the flight before he began trotting around the bases, incurring the wrath of first baseman Freddie Freeman and others. By the time he reached home, Atlanta catcher Brian McCann stood in front of the plate, refused to let him cross, inciting a full-fledged brawl.

The Yankees bench yelled at Lindor, and Lindor and Mets infielder Javy Baez yelled back, opening and closing their hands, as if to say, “Keep talking.” Lindor then made a whistling gesture towards Stanton.

Both benches and bullpens cleared, but there were no punches or even a push exchanged. Yankee ace Gerrit Cole climbed over the railing and rubbed his fingers together, telling them to stop chirping. And center fielder Brett Gardner stood in front of the dugout, giving Baez and Lindor the thumbs-down gesture, which got them in trouble two weeks ago with their own fans.

The benches clear between the Yankees and the Mets in the seventh inning at Citi Field on Sunday night.

The benches clear between the Yankees and the Mets in the seventh inning at Citi Field on Sunday night.

“I don’t know exactly what he was saying to Wandy and Gleyber as he was running around,” Stanton said. “My thing was just that if you got a problem, give it to Wandy. Don’t take multiple people into it.”

While the Yankees conceded that Peralta, indeed, was doing plenty of whistling, it had nothing to do with conveying signs, but simply motivating the Yankees’ bench.

“Wandy was just trying to liven up the dugout, bring a lot of energy into the dugout,” Yankees outfielder Joey Gallo said. “It’s a loud whistle. It’s definitely not for pitch-tipping. It’s 100% not that. Just bringing energy to the dugout, that’s all it is.

“It’s been hurting my ear to be honest with you.”

Was it really enough to create both benches clearing and nearly getting into a brawl?

“It’s a high-energy game,” Gallo said. “Sometimes those things happen. It was intense. A rivalry game. Emotions run high.

“There was a lot at stake.”

Lindor made sure he got the last laugh, homering once again to the second deck in right-center, becoming the first player in the Subway Series to accomplish the feat, and the 15th in Mets’ history.

And, yes, he was the one who caught the final out, too, off the bat of Stanton.

It was the stuff made out of Hollywood, and could forever be remembered as the game Lindor is finally embraced by Mets fans, who havebooed him for his performance all year.

Does Lindor, with his signature moment, feel like a New Yorker for the first time since his arrival?

“I don’t have the accent yet,” he said, laughing. “I feel like I’m a Mets’ player. I’ve been feeling like that for awhile.

“I love the city.”

And, perhaps, the fans will finally love him back.

Well, at least it could be the start of some loving.

“I don’t think the Mets’ fans forget things,” said Lindor, who is batting .227 with 17 home runs and 52 RBI this season. “I mean, I was booed for a very long time. But I think it definitely helps start that they believe in me a little bit more.”

Who knows, could it be the start of something special? The Mets may be five games behind Atlanta in the NL East race, but they’re in the wild-card hunt, just three games back of the second spot.

The Yankees, meanwhile, dropped into fourth place in the AL East, but remain just a game out of a wild-card spot.

If the Mets make the playoffs and the Yankees are sitting home, Lindor’s heroics this night could be remembered all winter.

“It’s exactly what I expect,” Mets manager Luis Rojas said. “He wants to give the fans the best show. We know he has had a lot of ups and downs, but this is the Francisco that we all know, the Francisco that we all expect.

“This is the Francisco we know.”

Lindor’s stardom finally whistling into the night.

Follow Nightengale on Twitter @Bnightengale

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Mets-Yankees rivalry fires up emotions with cheating claims, yelling





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