2000 Game Recap: Mets Shoot Selves In Foot Continuously In 12 Inning Loss
Look, it was one thing to get shut down by Denny Neagle. He’s a very good pitcher who has a few Cy Young caliber seasons under his belt. It is a whole other thing to get shut down by Steve Parris. While Parris is coming off a decent year, he was coming off a start where the Dodgers battered him for five runs over two innings, and he had an 8.47 ERA entering the game.
Before delving into all that went wrong, there should be focus on what went right – Glendon Rusch.
Rusch entered Spring Training having to win a job in the rotation, and even if he was not the sentimental favorite among fans, Rusch did win that spot. He has backed up that Spring Training performance by having a terrific start to the season.
This start against the Reds marked his third straight start where he pitched at least 7.0 innings while allowing two runs or less. One of the big keys is using a quick tempo and not beating himself. So far, over his 22.2 innings this year, he has walked just two batters.
Really, the one thing which is plaguing him right now is the long ball. That issue arose again when Ken Griffey, Jr. hit a solo homer off of him to give the Reds an early 1-0 lead. Fortunately for Rusch, he’d shut down the Reds from there on out, and he would take the no decision. He more than deserved a win (again), but at least he didn’t take the loss.
The reason Rusch didn’t take the loss was because Robin Ventura hit a solo homer to lead off the fourth. The problem for Ventura and the Mets was this was the only run they would score on the day. Really, they have no one to blame but themselves for that as they wasted opportunity after opportunity.
In the first, Ventura hit into an inning ending double play with runners on first and second. Todd Pratt would hit into a double play to end the second ending any chances of a rally getting going. In the third, Edgardo Alfonzo flew out with runners on first and second.
The Mets next chance to score came in the eighth. Derek Bell drew a two out walk, and he advanced to second on a passed ball. After Alfonzo walked, there was yet another situation with runners on first and second. This time, Ventura struck out swinging to end the inning.
As bad as those earlier missed chances were, the ninth would be a bit of a horror show for the Mets.
Todd Zeile would lead-off the inning with a single. This led to Bobby Valentine pegging Rickey Henderson, the all-time stolen base leader as a pinch runner. Henderson, clearly miffed at the throwing over and uncalled balks, took off for second on a 3-2 pitch to Matt Franco.
Not only would Franco swing and miss at what should’ve been ball four, but Henderson, who didn’t get a good break and wasn’t exactly hustling, was thrown out by a VERY wide margin by Benito Santiago. Henderson didn’t even bother getting into a rundown or anything. He just took the tag and walked off the field.
And yet, after that, the Mets still had a chance in the ninth. Pratt drew a walk, and he would be standing on third after a Rey Ordonez double. This led to some very curious decision making by Valentine. With Mike Piazza on the bench, the best hitter on the team, he stuck with Melvin Mora, who drew a walk to load the bases, and then Jon Nunnally, who flew out to end the inning and send the game into extras.
Nothing really happened in extras until the 12th inning when Armando Benitez entered the game and lost the strike zone. Sandwiched between a Boone sacrifice bunt were two walks (one intentional, one not). The Reds then took the lead on a Travis Dawkins RBI single.
In the 12th, the Mets yet again had a chance to win. After Mora grounded out against Scott Sullivan, Nunally drew a walk and advanced to second on a wild pitch. That put him in scoring position with less than two outs. After a Derek Bell walk, the Mets once again had first and second, and once again, they did nothing with it.
Alfonzo and Ventura both popped out in the infield to end the game. This put a sour note on an otherwise terrific homestand where they went from puzzling to getting to be the team we expected them to be this year. Overall, whenever you get an 8-2 home stand, you take it no matter how disappointing the home stand ends.
Game Notes: In Mets related news, Darryl Strawberry left rehab earlier than expected without any public explanation available. The Mets are now embarking on a long 13 game road trip taking them to Colorado, San Francisco, Florida, and Pittsburgh.
Editor’s Note: With there being no games to begin the season, this site will follow the 2000 season and post recaps as if those games happened in real time. If nothing else, it is better to remember this pennant winning season and revisit some of the overlooked games than it is to dwell on the complete lack of baseball.