Yankees News: Aaron Judge injury a mystery, Friday’s availability in question

New York Yankees, Aaron Judge

The Yankees had a great win over the Orioles on Tuesday night. A tremendous start from Gerrit Cole and a great performance from Judge led the Yankees to a 7-2 victory. Judge had his best game of the year and looked to be in mid-season form. 

It wasn’t until the lineup came out for the series finale on Wednesday that things started to look down. Aaron Judge was missing. With an off day scheduled for New York on Thursday, the decision to rest Judge was questionable. Experts and fans were going berserk trying to come up with an answer for Judge’s absence. 

Aaron Boone then met with the media before the game and was asked about the situation. He stated that Judge was absent from the lineup because of “soreness” in his left side. After a game in which Judge went 3-5 with two singles and a three-run homer, it seemed weird that he was experiencing soreness. Boone then stated that this was more “wear and tear” soreness than anything else. Players don’t usually experience any wear and tear five games into the season. Especially a player in as great of shape as Judge. Then he tried to reassure everyone by saying Judge would be available off the bench.

The Yankees ended up losing a heartbreaker in eleven innings by a score of 4-3. It was a thrilling game throughout, with many lead changes late. Judge, however, never made an appearance. 

So, why didn’t Judge play?

After the game, Boone was bombarded with questions regarding Judge’s health. He was asked why Judge wasn’t used late in the game. He responded by saying that he “was staying away” from Judge. Then he stated that it is “unclear” whether Judge will be in the Yankees lineup against the Rays on Friday.

With a travel day for the Yankees tomorrow, Judge will get two days of rest. That should clear up any wear and tear soreness that he is experiencing. Which is why it’s weird that his status would be in question. Boone said earlier that New York has no tests set up for Judge and that he will be monitored closely. Only time will tell whether this is really “wear and tear” or something more serious than expected. 

New York Giants: Footwork named as top quality in draft prospect Slater

Rashawn Slater, New York Giants

If the New York Giants don’t continue to add weapons to the passing offense during the draft, there’s some chance that they add to the offensive line instead. The line is one of the most obvious needs for the team right now, if not the most obvious. And Northwestern tackle Rashawn Slater is a promising prospect that may be available when the Giants pick at number eleven overall.

When compared to the other offensive line prospects in this year’s class, Pro Football Focus ranked footwork as Slater’s biggest strength and had this to say about him.

Slater might have the best footwork of anyone in this class. His foot quickness and processing speed allow him to shut down any stunt or blitz thrown his way, and his overall athleticism is going to help him make those NFL-level cutoffs that teams need.

We saw how special a prospect he was from an athleticism standpoint at his pro day when he put up a 4.88-second 40-yard dash and 7.48-second three-cone. So, it should come as no surprise that Slater produced a 90.0 PFF grade and allowed just five pressures over 11 games in his final season at Northwestern in 2019.

Slater is also considered the second best option on the offensive line by that same source, which ranked his biggest weakness so far as his size and athleticism. However, PFF did predict that he’ll overcome this problem in the league and used his performance against Chase Young as a justifying example.

A fit for the New York Giants?

The Giants already drafted Andrew Thomas to play tackle last year but they might be in the market for one once again due to the decline of Nate Solder. Even if Thomas continues to develop, he can only play on one side of the field and the Giants would do better to have strong tackles on either side.

While adding Slater wouldn’t be as flashy of a selection as adding another receiver, the pick would help to shore up one of the weakest spots of the team and allow the team’s playmakers like Daniel Jones and Saquon Barkley to do more thanks to better blocking.

It’s an option the Giants will have to at least consider come draft day, if they have the chance to make the move. A pick like Slater is, after all, an upgrade over stopgap moves at the tackle position.

Knicks endgame woes continue in Boston

knicks

The magic of the New York Knicks‘ promising start to the season is beginning to fade.

The Knicks are on a free-fall after squandering another lead and coming up short once again at crunchtime.

Marcus Smart hit the dagger—a wide-open three—with 36.4 seconds left as the Celtics came from behind and extended the Knicks’ endgame woes, 101-99, on Wednesday night at the TD Garden in Boston.

It was the Knicks’ eighth loss in 10 games decided by three points or less this season. Five of their last seven losses came down to a single possession.

New York led by seven, 80-73, with under nine minutes left in the fourth quarter. But the Celtics rallied behind Smart, Jaylen Brown, and Jayson Tatum.

After Smart’s go-ahead three-pointer, Alec Burks missed a three on the other end and got his shot blocked in the final 10 seconds that sealed the Knicks’ fate.

Smart poured in 14 of his 17 points and issued three of his nine assists in the final quarter, while Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum had seven points apiece.

Brown paced the Celtics with 32 points and 10 rebounds. Tatum added 27 and 10.

The Boston trio was too much for the Knicks, who have now lost five of their last six games to fall to eighth place in the East.

The Knicks drew a big game from RJ Barrett, who went a perfect six-for-six from beyond the arc to lead them with 29 points. But Julius Randle struggled again in the fourth despite a complete stats line of 22 points, nine rebounds, six assists, three steals, and one block.

After a scintillating third quarter where he exploded for 13 points and gave the Knicks a 73-70 lead, Randle disappeared in the final 12 minutes. Either his recent thigh injury is bothering him, or the big minutes are starting to wear him down. He remains defiant, saying he’s not bothered by anything every time the topic comes up.

But his recent struggles suggest otherwise as he came up with just two points in the fourth quarter on four shots.

Randle shot 9-for-23 overall. In four games this month, he’s just shooting 38.2 percent from the field and 30 from deep.

Rebounding also continued to be an issue for the Knicks as the Celtics crushed them, 53-39, and 16-5 on the offensive glass.

The tight game saw Boston scoring 20 second-chance points. It was the fourth time in the Knicks’ last five losses that they were beaten in the offensive rebounding.

“We felt one of the keys is rebounding. Obviously, that hurts us,” Tom Thibodeau offered his thoughts after another tough loss. “We had been a good rebounding team the whole year. We need to get back to it.”

It gets tougher for the Knicks to rebound from this tough stretch as the streaking Memphis Grizzlies, winners of their last four games, visit them in New York on Friday.

On the same night the Knicks lost to the Celtics, the Grizzlies wallopped the Atlanta Hawks, 131-113, with all their starters in double figures.

The Knicks’ starters all yielded negative net ratings in their loss in Boston.

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo

New York Yankees Recap: O’s avoid the sweep in heartbreaking loss for the Yanks

Tonight at 6:35 pm, the New York Yankees met the Baltimore Orioles as the Yankees went for the O’s sweep. The Yankees shut out the O’s in the first game, 7-0, and in the second game, they won 7-2. In this game tonight, the last Yankee starter to start this season, Jameson Taillon, made his Major League debut in pinstripes. Taillon faced the O’s ace John Mean. Mean pitched 7 scoreless innings in his first start against the Boston Red Sox. The games started under sunny skies with a Yankee Stadium temperature was in the high 60’s. The New York Yankees lost the game in the eleventh inning 4-3.

Jameson Taillon took the mound to face Cedric Mullins, the O’s best hitter. Mullins struck out, Mancini ground out to third, and Santander popped out for a perfect first 1-2-3 inning for Taillon. At the bottom, LeMahieu faced John Means. DJ had a long fly out to right-center. Gleyber Torres walked. Aaron Hicks took the first pitch for 404′ out in center. Giancarlo Stanton singled, moving Torres to third base. Clint Frazier, with two outs, flew out to Mullin on the warning track to end the inning. No score.

Ryan Mountcastle led off against Taillon, and he flew out to Hicks in center. Maikal Franco popped out to the catcher. Pedro Severino ground out directly to LeMahieu to end the inning and gave Taillon his second 1-2-3 inning. Jay Bruce led off the bottom by striking out. Sanchez struck out, and Gio Urshela line out to third. After 2, no score.

Rio Ruiz led off the third, flying out to Brett Gardner. Freddie Galvis popped out for a long run for Urshela. Roman Urias struck out for a perfect game for Taillon through three innings of work. Brett Gardner led off the bottom with a lead-off single. LeMahieu singled up the center for two on and no outs. Torres struck out. Hicks singled up the middle, driving in Gardner as the Yankee struck first with the one-run lead. Stanton lined drove into a double play to end the inning, but the Yankees got a run in. Yankees 1 O’s 0.

Cedric Mullion led off with a homer to right-center off Taillon to tie up the game. Mancini ground out. Santander homered to center. Mountcastle struck out. Franco struck out, but the O’s picked up two runs. At the bottom, Clint Frazier struck out. Bruce tapped back to the pitcher two away. Sanchez worked a walk. Urshela singled to right, and Sanchez moved to second. Brett Gardner stepped to the plate with two on and two outs. He popped for the final out, leaving two Yankees on base. Orioles 2 Yankees 1.

Taillon out for the fifth inning faced Severino, and struck him out. Ruiz singled. Galvis struck out for Taillion’s seventh strikeout, and that was the night for Taillon. Nick Nelson replaced him. Ruiz struck out, ending the half. At the bottom, LeMahieu tapped out to short. Torres blooped a single out to left field. Hicks struck out. Stanton hit sharply to center for single, moving Torres to second and a pitching change for the O’s. He was replaced by Dillon Tate, who faced Clint Frazier with two on and two outs. Frazier ground out to end the inning, leaving two on base. Orioles 2 New York Yankees 1.

Mullins started the sixth by grounding out to LeMahieu. Mancini lined out to short. Santander struck out as Nelson put down all 4 of the O’s he faced. At the bottom of the sixth, Bruce led off by grounding out to first. Sanchez doubled down the left-field line. Urshela flew out to left, but Sanchez made third base. That did it for Tate, replaced by Tanner Scott. Gardner went down on strikes. Orioles 2 Yankees 1.

Darren O’Day pitched the top of the seventh inning. Mountcastle flew out to center. Franco struck out. Severino tapped back to O’Day, ending the half. After the seventh inning stretch LeMahieu at the plate he singled to center. Torres lined out to right field. Hicks struck out after a questionable call. Stanton also struck out to end the quick seventh.

In the eighth inning, Jonathan Loaisgia came out to pitch. Ruiz ground out to Torres. Galvis bounced back to Loaisiga for the second out. Urias went down on strikes. Yankee pitchers had put down 11 O’s in a row. At the bottom, Frazier faced Shawn Armstrong and ground out to third base. Bruce ground out to second, and Gary Sanchez hit the ball hard to left but only got a single. Mike Tauchman came in to run for Sanchez. Urshela doubled as Tauchman came sliding home to tie up the game. O’s made a pitching change to Valdez. Gardner singled, moving Urshela to third base. DJ LeMahieu ground out to second, but the Yankees tied the game at 2.

At the top of the ninth, Aroldis Chapman came in to hold down the O’s. Mullins struck out. Mancini stuck out, and Santander completed the strikeout of the side for Chapman. At the bottom, Gleyber Torres ground out to short. Hicks flew out to Mullins in center. Giancarlo Stanton ground to short as well. With extra innings and a man on second coming up, the score was New York Yankees 2 O’s 2.

At the tenth with the rule, the inning started with Santander on second base. Mountcastle grounded to third. Franco under review was out at first. Severino reached on a huge error by Torres, Santander scores for the O’s lead. Ruiz went down on a strike, but the O’s held the lead in the half. Clint Frazier took to the plate with Tyler Wade pinch-running with last licks on the line for Stanton at second, he struck out. Jay Bruce also struck out. With two outs, it was Kyle Higashioka’s chance to save the Yankees. He singled to tie the game again, this time at 3 runs apiece. Gio Urshela struck out, but the Yankees tied the game. Yankees 3 O’s 3.

At the top of the eleventh, with Green still on the mound, Galvis bunted, moving Ruiz to third base. Urias blooped a single in front of Gardner, and Ruiz scored to give the O’s the one-run lead again. Mullins walked, and the Yankee brought in Luis Cessa to replace Chad Green. Mancini, with two on and one out, walked loading the bases. Santander struck out for the second out. McKenna in for Mountcastle struck out, getting Cessa out of a bases-loaded jam. Brett Gardner led off the bottom of the eleven with Urshela at second. Gardner had a sac bunt moving Urshela to third. LeMahieu hit, and Urshela got called out about 6′ from home plate for the Yankee loss. Yankee coach Niven never should have sent Urshela.

The winner was Valdez and the loser Green. The final score was Orioles 4 and the Yankees 2. With the number of hits the Yankees got in the game, they could have won it. Taillon pitched really well in his first start. The horrible error by Torres probably lost the game for the Yankees. However, to be fair to Torres, a better first baseman might have caught that ball that bounced 12′ in front of him. The New York Yankees tied it up at the bottom of the tenth inning but couldn’t get the job done in the eleventh.

Mets Cannot Recover From Peterson’s First Inning in 8-2 Loss to Phillies

Simeon Woods-Richardson

David Peterson‘s first inning against the Philadelphia Phillies symbolized the New York Mets issues during their opening series. Flat, rusty, and a step slow as the Phillies tagged Peterson for four runs to put the Mets in an early first-inning hole. Rhys Hoskins‘s solo home run and Alec Bohm‘s three-run homer gave them a 4-0 lead they never looked back from in their 8-2 victory.

Peterson bookended three shutout innings with ugly first and fifth innings. Hoskins got to Peterson again with a double in the fifth, and Bryce Harper‘s drag bunt gave the Phillies a first and third situation. Peterson left the game, and Jacob Barnes made his Mets debut in relief but gave the Mets little help. J.T. Realmuto swatted Barnes’s first pitch over the right field fence to put the game out of reach at 7-1.

Wasted Opportunities

The Mets offense made Phillies ace Aaron Nola worked extremely hard through his four innings of work. Nola worked around eight baserunners to hold the Mets to one run on 92 pitches. The ability to get runners on base but failure to score them was the story of their game. They recorded 11 hits but left 14 runners on base and went 1-for-12 with runners in scoring position. Combine all those factors, and you get their two-run effort. Michael Conforto struggled the most in his 0-for-5 day with two strikeouts and nine left on base.

The silver lining from the game is Joey Lucchesi‘s two innings to finish off the loss. Lucchesi struck out two and only allowed one hit as he tries to keep himself ready for a start next week. Jonathan Villar also finished a home run shy of the cycle.

A 1-2 start to year always stings, but a full 162 game season allows plenty of time to rebound from a rough start. The Mets return to Citi Field for their home opener, with Taijuan Walker making his Mets debut. They will face the Miami Marlins, who have not announced a starter yet due to the current injuries in their rotation. The first pitch from Queens is at 1:05 p.m.

Playoffs in Derrick Rose’s mind but Knicks must take care of little things

knicks, new york knicks, derrick rose

When Derrick Rose sought Detroit Pistons coach Dwane Casey’s blessing to reunite with Tom Thibodeau in New York, he thought of playing in the playoffs.

That mindset hasn’t changed despite Rose missing an extended period of time due to COVID-19 and the New York Knicks (25-26) falling outside the top six in the East.

The Knicks have lost eight of their 14 games since the All-Star break entering Wednesday’s important matchup against their Atlantic Division rival Boston Celtics, who have an identical 25-26 record.

Rose admitted he is still working on his conditioning despite coming off with a 16-point performance in the tough two-point loss to the Brooklyn Nets last Monday.

“Having COVID(-19), coming back in, missing the game, I’m just trying to get my rhythm. I’m trying to get my timing down, trying to get my wind, but that’s going to come,” Rose said after their morning shootaround in Boston on Wednesday. “I’m trying to use these last 20-something games to prepare myself for a playoff series.”

Rose isn’t thinking of a play-in scenario. He was honest that he’s not fully aware of the new format the NBA introduced in the Orlando Bubble last season to spice things up heading into the playoffs.

“I really don’t know the rules of it,” Rose said. “What is it? How many games do you have to play?”

The play-in tournament has the 7th to 10th teams battling for the last two playoff spots, with the loser of the No. 7 vs. No. 8 facing the winner of the No. 9 vs. No. 10.

Rose doesn’t want anything to do with that and wants to go straight to the playoffs.

“I heard about it last year but didn’t pay too much attention to it. We weren’t in the playoffs and I don’t watch basketball like that. If we’re there, we have to play those games,” said Rose who missed the Orlando Bubble with the Pistons last season. “But we want to avoid that and just try to win as many games as possible. So we don’t have to worry about that. That’s our ideal choice if we can pick it.”

The Knicks are 2-3 since Rose returned from his COVID-19 battle. He had a solid first half against Kyrie Irving and the Nets with 15 points. But Rose only scored on one free throw in the second half. Clearly, he’s not yet where he wants to be conditioning-wise.

It’s going to take some time but it’s going day by day, practice by practice, and in the game, quarter by quarter. I had a pretty good half last game and now the goal is to have two legit halves and just play as hard as I can so I can build up my wind,” Rose said.

The Knicks were careless and have blown double-digit leads in their last three losses. Their only win against a team above .500 since January came at the expense of a Milwaukee Bucks team who were missing seven players, including four of their starters led by back-to-back MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo.

The Knicks failed to capitalize on some winnable games. They’ve lost to the league’s worst Minnesota Timberwolves. They couldn’t stop Luka Doncic and Irving.

The Nets game could have been theirs after James Harden’s hamstring injury acted up four minutes into the game. For a while, they appeared to have seized the opportunity, building a 14-point lead only to squander it easily— an alarming trend in the Knicks losses.

With only Irving left from the Nets’ Big 3, the Knicks blew their chance of beating their rivals across the river. Instead of stepping up, they shrunk in the big moments.

Instead of taking care of the little things, they overlooked them.

Julius Randle, who misfired on a potential game-tying jumper at the end, somehow lost his focus down the stretch after his scuffle with Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot midway in the fourth quarter.

The Knicks All-Star forward turned the ball over in the next play after he and Luwawu-Cabarrot earned double technical fouls. And Randle only scored on a pair of free throws the rest of the way.

“I’m not sure what his problem was,” Randle said afterward. “Like I said, he’s not a guy I’m worried about when I’m playing.”

The player who was the least of his worries killed them in the end as Luwawu-Cabarrot came back to haunt him and the Knicks.

Luwawu-Cabarrot, who finished with nine points, three assists, and three rebounds, made the most important play of the game. He tipped in a Joe Harris’ miss to Jeff Green, who sank the game-winning free throws.

The Knicks forgot to box him out. And they paid dearly for it.

In three (Miami, Minnesota, and Brooklyn) of their last four losses, the Knicks got beaten in the offensive glass.

Had the Knicks been careful, they could have maintained their top-four standing in the East. But that’s water under the bridge now.

Tonight, they have been afforded another golden opportunity as the Celtics will be without Kemba Walker (load management) and trade deadline acquisition Evan Fournier (health and safety protocols).

The Knicks could learn from Joe “Deke” Deacon (Denzel Washington) in the 2021 movie “Little Things.”

“It’s the little things that are important, Jimmy. It’s the little things that get you caught,” Deacon reminded young investigator Jim Baxter (Rami Malek) in the dark crime thriller. And later: “It’s the little things that rip you apart.”

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo

Mets Game Preview (4/7/21): 4:05 p.m. @ Philadelphia Phillies (4-1)

New York Mets, David Peterson

The New York Mets look to take the rubber game of their opening series against the Philadelphia Phillies. After a lackluster performance in game one, the offense led the way with an eight-run performance in the second game. They will have their work cut out for themselves against Phillies ace Aaron Nola.

The Mets will be shorthanded while J.D. Davis rests his injured hand that was struck by a pitch in Tuesday’s game. Luis Guillorme will take his place at third base. Jonathan Villar makes his first start of the season as he bats sixth and plays second base, giving Jeff McNeil a day off. James McCann remains in the lineup for a day game after a night game instead of receiving the usual day off.

The Phillies turn back to their usual top of the order, with Andrew McCutchen and Rhys Hoskins batting first and second. Didi Gregorius and Adam Haseley are the lone left-handed hitters in the lineup against David Peterson. No one in their lineup has faced Peterson more than twice in their career.

Pitching Matchups

David Peterson makes his first start of the season as he looks to build on a strong rookie season. Peterson was solid in the spring with a 3.75 ERA in 12 innings pitched but only struck out three. In 2019, he had a double-digit strikeout game but also had outings with only one strikeout. The jury is still out on the type of pitcher Peterson is at the big league level.

Aaron Nola takes the mound for the Phillies was as good as advertised on Opening Day against the Atlanta Braves. He threw 6.2 innings, but Pablo Sandoval’s two-run pinch-hit home run put a damper on his stellar outing. Nola features a fastball in the 92-94 range and backs it up with a changeup and knee-buckling curveball. Like with most aces, the Mets need to get to him early before he settles in.

Matchups To Lookout For

Aaron Nola vs. Michael Conforto: 7-for-37 (.189), 3 Doubles, Home Run, 5 Walks, 14 Strikeouts

Aaron Nola vs. Brandon Nimmo: 4-for-21 (.190), 9 Walks, 9 Strikeouts

UFC booking Neil Magny – Geoff Neal

The UFC is finalizing a fun matchup in the welterweight division. ESPN’s Brett Okamoto was the first to report today that the promotion was finalizing a matchup between top fifteen contenders Geoff Neal (13-3) and Neil Magny (24-8).

The two welterweights will clash at a UFC Fight Night scheduled for May 8th. Originally, these two were supposed to fight last year, but the fight fell through. Now, these two will finally get a chance to meet inside the octagon.

For Geoff Neal, he will be looking to bounce back from his first UFC loss. Back in December, Neal got his first headlining opportunity when he took on former title challenger, Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson.

Unfortunately for Neal, he was picked apart by Thompson on the feet. However, it is worth noting that Neal was dealing with vision issues for the second half of the fight. Nevertheless, Thompson won and Thompson was fighting injured as well.

Prior to that, Neal was 5-0 in the UFC. In those five wins, only Belal Muhammad was able to go the distance with Neal. This is a big opportunity for Neal to get back on track and jump into the top ten.

UFC bounce back opportunity

Standing across from Neal on May 8th is another welterweight that is looking to bounce back. Neil Magny returned in 2020 and went 3-0 which pushed him into the top ten of the UFC’s welterweight division.

From there, Magny got a shot against Michael Chiesa. The winner of that matchup was poised to inch closer to a title shot. Magny was ultimately dominated by Chiesa and lost a decision.

Now, Magny is looking to bounce back. There had been some initial chatter that Magny would take on Khamzat Chimaev. However, Chimaev will not be ready until July and Magny wanted to stay active. With that, the UFC booked this matchup and it’s a good one that fans should be excited about.

Mets: Pete Alonso breaks another home run record

The New York Mets’ win against the Philadelphia Phillies on Tuesday night was special in many regards. It was the first of the season after several days of inactivity due to suspensions, and it was also the first in the Steve Cohen era.

It was also special because it had a Pete Alonso home run, and those are always impressive. However, last night’s dinger made the first baseman the fastest hitter in Major League Baseball to reach 70 round-trippers.

Wayne Randazzo, through his official Twitter account, reported the interesting stat. Alonso became the fastest player in Major League history to reach that many career homers, as it took him 220 games — 11 fewer than previous record holder Aaron Judge – to achieve the round number.

Alonso, the Mets’ first baseman ever since he burst into the scene in 2019 with 53 dingers, a record for a rookie – besting Judge’s 52 blasts from 2017 – is determined to return to the level that made him one of the most promising and feared power hitters in the league a couple of seasons ago.

The Mets want to see Alonso’s best version

During the shortened 2020 campaign, the Mets’ couldn’t have the best version of Alonso, and it reflected on the final standings, as the team finished in last place of the NL East division.

Overall, Alonso didn’t hit his stride until late in the season, resulting in a disappointing .231/.326/.490 line. However, the Mets know that despite some cold streaks here and there, Alonso’s power is intact: even during last year’s struggles, he bopped 16 balls out of the park in 57 games, roughly a 45-homer pace over a full season.

This year, Alonso started on the right foot, with a .375/.500/.875 line and a homer, three runs, and a couple of RBI in the first two games of the season. He wants to regain his place among the most dangerous home run hitters in MLB.

Mets’ players and manager to give owner Steve Cohen a keepsake after first victory

The New York Mets won their first game of the season on Tuesday night against the Philadelphia Phillies, a day after dropping their season opener in spectacular fashion. Manager Luis Rojas and the players certainly hope the victory is the first of many to come in a new era of Mets’ baseball led by owner Steve Cohen.

Cohen, a lifelong Mets’ fan, acquired the time last year by bidding approximately $2.4 billion, and brought Sandy Alderson to be the team president. Since then, the team has been extremely active in free agency and trade talks, as they brought shortstop Francisco Lindor from Cleveland and gave him a 10-year, $341 million extension just before Opening Day.

As Albert Almora caught the final out in Tuesday’s 8-4 win, he handed the ball to Brandon Nimmo, who in turn gave it to Kevin Pillar. The latter passed it onto Rojas as a souvenir, a keepsake of the Mets’ first joy of the 2021 campaign.

However, Anthony DiComo of MLB.com reported that Rojas won’t keep the ball. Instead, he plans to give it to Steve Cohen on Thursday, before the season opener at Citi Field. Rojas want Cohen to have it as a memento of his first win as a Mets’ owner.

 A new era has begun for the Mets

“The first of many to come,” Rojas said afterward.

“The buzz and the excitement started at the early part of Spring Training,” Mets’ outfielder Dominic Smith, who it a home run yesterday, said. “And it all revolves around him. Obviously when he took over ownership, and the moves he’s made, he’s just been tremendous. Every move he’s made has been great. We’re just excited to see him take over in leadership and to see his passion and his will to want to come and win.”

Cohen couldn’t see the game live last night, but will be at Citi Field seeing the home opener from his suite. There, he plans to interact with fans.

Mets’ fans feel a new era is about to begin. And everything starts at the top.