Wearing an orange jersey, bluejeans and white sneakers, Brodie Van Wagenen, the Mets general manager, made his way to Section 141 at Citi Field Monday night 20 minutes before first pitch of his team’s game against the Yankees.
He tried to blend in with the 7 Line Army — a unit of ardent Mets fans in the center field seats — but the rank and file recognized him.
“Let Mickey manage the team!” Noreen Smith, a fan since 1971, said in support of Manager Mickey Callaway. “You be the G.M. Not that I don’t like you. Don’t make me come to your office!”
Van Wagenen, who has denied reports in the news media that he has issued orders to Callaway during games, absorbed both criticism and praise from the fans. He smiled, shook hands and posed for selfies as he took his seat, where he held up a Fathead with his image on it.
“I didn’t know how the reception was going to be tonight,” said Van Wagenen, who in February committed to sitting in the stands for this Subway Series opener. “I know how passionate these fans are as a former season ticket holder.”
Van Wagenen witnessed a rare Mets win from his front-row seat. His team fell behind by 2-0 in the second inning, but the Yankees’ bullpen yielded three runs in the eighth to allow the Mets to claim a 4-2 win.
“It makes me yearn for more,” Callaway said. “We can’t do anything about what’s happened.”
It was a night of role reversal for the Yankees (54-29) and the Mets (39-47). At the start of the game, the Yankees had a 47-1 record when leading after the seventh inning, but reliever Adam Ottavino gave up two hits and three runs in the bottom of the eighth to be charged with a blown save and a loss.
“We’re always going to come back,” said Mets left fielder J.D. Davis, who hit a home run in the sixth inning and tied the game in the eighth with a double. “We’re never going to stop fighting.”
In the loss, the Yankees ended their major-league record streak of games with at least one homer at 31. They built their early lead against the Mets with some small ball. Didi Gregorius scored the first run on a ground-ball single by Gleyber Torres, and after three straight singles pitcher James Paxton dropped a sacrifice bunt.
Mets catcher Wilson Ramos fielded the ball and threw Paxton out at first, but neither Ramos nor pitcher Zack Wheeler covered home plate. Yankees first baseman Edwin Encarnacion scored standing up.
Then things turned quiet for the bats that had produced 29 runs in a pair of victories over the Red Sox in London over the weekend, and the bullpen faltered.
“It’s frustrating,” said Yankees reliever Zack Britton, who gave up a two-run double to Mets center fielder Michael Conforto in the eighth. “We want to win those games and most of the time we will.”
Before Tuesday’s game, the Yankees placed first baseman Luke Voit on the injured list with an abdominal strain — making him the 22nd Yankee to spend time there this season. The team had a total of 20 on the list in all of 2018. Voit has been a mainstay in the lineup, delivering 17 home runs and 50 runs batted in.
“He’s been so good,” Yankees Manager Aaron Boone said. “Such a consistent performer for us and an energy giver in the clubhouse as well. A guy that means a lot to our team behind the scenes.”
A magnetic resonance imaging exam on Voit, who was hurt running the bases in London, revealed a low grade abdominal strain. Although Voit felt better the day after he sustained the injury, the Yankees opted to give him time off to recover. Because the All-Star break begins on Monday, Voit may not miss many games.
Boone said the Yankees expected Voit to return to the lineup at some point during the first series back from the All-Star break, against Toronto. In the meantime, Encarnacion may see the bulk of the action at first base.
There are plenty of moving parts with the Mets, as well. Before the game, Callaway announced that starter Steven Matz would go to the bullpen.
“We have a long time until we need a fifth starter, including the four days during the All-Star break,” Callaway said, “so we’re going to do whatever is necessary for this team to turn the corner and start winning more games.”
Van Wagenen will have to weigh each pitcher’s value as the July 31 trade deadline looms. As fans in the bleachers asked the general manager about a potential fire sale, Wheeler was showing what he could provide for a contender, limiting the Yankees to two earned runs over 6⅓ innings.
For now, Wheeler wanted to talk only about his current team.
“I want to win here,” he said. “Hopefully we can start rolling here.”
James Wagner contributed reporting.
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