NEW YORK – Alex Rodriguez slammed his bat and then threw it. The first Subway Series game at new Yankee Stadium was over.
And then it wasn’t.
Second baseman Luis Castillo dropped A-Rod’s two-out popup in the ninth inning as Derek Jeter scored from second and Mark Teixeira from first, giving the Yankees a wild 9-8 victory over the Mets on Friday.
“It’s hard to believe,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “We kind of got a gift tonight.”
David Wright had put the Mets ahead 8-7 with an eighth-inning double off Mariano Rivera (1-2), and Francisco Rodriguez (1-1) appeared to escape a ninth-inning jam on the popup by A-Rod, just 1-for-17 in his career off K-Rod, including the postseason.
But Castillo kept drifting toward the foul line and allowed the ball to pop out of his glove as he tried for a one-handed catch on the right field grass. The Yankees ran onto the field to celebrate.
“As soon as I slid in, I hugged Jete and I said, ‘What just happened?’ because I couldn’t believe it,” Teixeira said.
A few minutes later, Castillo sat alone in the visitor’s clubhouse, leaning forward, his elbows on his knees, his head resting on his hands. His eyes were reddening. A three-time Gold Glove winner, Castillo called it a “routine fly ball.”
“I feel bad. I feel so bad,” he said following his fifth error of the season. “The ball was moving a little bit.”
Jeter had singled with one out and stole second as pinch-hitter Johnny Damon struck out on the ninth pitch. Teixeira was intentionally walked, and Rodriguez got ahead 3-0 before taking a strike and then popping up.
It was yet another stunning defeat for the Mets, who keep finding new ways to lose. They lost to Florida on April 12 when left fielder Daniel Murphy dropped Cody Ross’ fly ball. And on May 18, they lost to the Los Angeles Dodgers after Ryan Church missed third base and failed to score the go-ahead run in the 11th inning.
“We’ll have to fight through this,” Mets manager Jerry Manuel said. “This is definitely a tremendous test for us.”
Both teams came in staggering. The Yankees had been swept in a three-game series at Boston’s Fenway Park and the Mets lost to Philadelphia in extra innings on consecutive days.
“Of course, we feel like we just stole one,” Jeter said. “We were lucky. That’s just the bottom line.”