NEW YORK -- Amed Rosario crouched and coiled, priming his body to react to mankind's fastest pitch. No one throws harder than Albertin Chapman, author of the 18 fastest fastballs in the Majors this season. Pitchers in the Pacific Coast League don't throw 103 mph.As Rosario soaked in the loudness
NEW YORK -- Amed Rosario crouched and coiled, priming his body to react to mankind's fastest pitch. No one throws harder than Albertin Chapman, author of the 18 fastest fastballs in the Majors this season. Pitchers in the Pacific Coast League don't throw 103 mph.
As Rosario soaked in the loudness of 46,474 fans Tuesday at Yankee Stadium -- "something that I've never experienced before in my life," he said -- Chapman started him out with two sliders, then a 100-mph pitch. In a 2-1 count, the closer went back to the slider. Rosario uncoiled. He slashed at the ball, sending it to right-center field for a two-run homer that provided the final margin in the Mets' 5-4 loss to the Yankees.
"In that situation, I've got to try to cut down on the pressure," Rosario said through an interpreter. "I went out there looking for his hardest pitch, and I hit his slowest pitch."
In so doing, Rosario, the Mets' No. 1 prospect, added to one of the more uplifting losses -- yes, losses -- that the Mets have had this season. Two innings before Rosario turned this year's second Subway Series game into a white-knuckled affair, Dominic Smith went deep with a two-run homer off Sonny Gray. Smith, the club's No. 2 prospect, called hitting the homer -- the first of many the Mets feel he will hit in the big leagues -- "a big weight lifted" off his shoulders.
And so at a time of year when the Mets are looking squarely toward 2018, Rosario and Smith ratcheted their optimism up a notch.
"Me and Amed, we came up together. He's my little brother," Smith said. "We just like to see each other do well. We root for each other. We push each other to become better ballplayers. It's just good to be up here with him. I have a good feeling to see him play well."
A tight Subway Series game certainly qualifies as experience well-earned for Rosario, who had never before played in front of a crowd this large, and for Smith, who until Monday had never played a professional game within the five boroughs.
"This is like a playoff atmosphere," Smith said. "Both of these teams are playing for the bragging rights of the city. The city is pretty divided of who they think is the better team."
Right now, it's the Yankees, who still harbor legitimate postseason aspirations. But the Mets feel it could be them as soon as next season, with Rosario and Smith joining Yoenis Cespedes and Michael Conforto as lineup anchors for a full season. That is why the Mets felt it so important for both blue-chip prospects to make it here before September.
The Mets wanted Rosario and Smith not just to experience big league baseball, but to soak in every part of it -- the dog days down the stretch, but also the exciting ones, the turbulent ones, the ones that define players as bad or fine or good or great, as worthy or unworthy of adulation.
"You can't have a better scenario, I don't think, for young player development than pressure situations," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "I believe that at any level. There's a time when they need to be challenged. When they come up here, you need to challenge them with big opportunities like tonight."
Anthony DiComo has covered the Mets for MLB.com since 2008. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo and Facebook.