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2000 Game Recap: Mets Sweep Double-Header From Cubs

If Don Baylor was angry with Bobby Valentine and the Mets for protesting the Cubs Opening Day victory due to Baylor’s lineup snafu, he may be downright livid right now with the Mets sweeping the doubleheader after Friday night’s game was rained out.

In the opener, Glendon Rusch had another terrific outing to start the season. He followed his complete game loss against the Pirates with a seven inning effort picking up the win after allowing just two earned on four hits. One thing which is really standing out with Rusch right now is he not only working fast, but he is also not beating himself by being stingy with his walks.

When the Cubs finally got to him in the seventh with a pair of homers by Mark Grace and Shane Andrews, the Mets already had a 3-2 lead. With the Mets holding onto Mike Piazza to catch the knuckleballer in the second end of the doubleheader, the Mets utilized more of a small ball approach.

In the first inning, Robin Ventura knocked in the first run of the game with an RBI groundout. The Mets expanded the lead with a groundout by Todd Pratt and an RBI single from Matt Franco.

The Mets would then blow the game open in the eighth. After Pratt drew a lead-off walk and moved to second on a ground out (not ruled a sacrifice) by Franco, Melvin Mora was intentionally walked. Rey Ordonez responded with an RBI single. After Piazza entered the game as a pinch hitter and was walked, Benny Agbayani and Derek Bell hit back-to-back doubles giving the Mets an 8-2 lead in a game they would eventually win 8-3.

In the second half of the doubleheader, for the first time in team history, they would start a knuckleball pitcher with Dennis Springer taking the mound. Springer would acquit himself well taking the no decision after allowing three runs over 5.1 innings.

Springer was staked with an early lead when Agbayani hit a bases loaded two RBI single to give the Mets an early 2-0 lead. The rally ended there was Todd Zeile committed the mortal sin of making the last out at third after getting caught by Henry Rodriguez in his attempt to go from first to third.

The Cubs first got to Springer in the fifth with a Jeff Huson RBI single. They would then chase Springer in the fifth. After allowing back-to-back doubles to Rodriguez and Jeff Reed, the Cubs took the lead 3-2. After a Roosevelt Brown single, Valentine got Springer.

Dennis Cook made an immediate impact by picking Brown off first. After the intentional walk to Andrews, Cook retired Kyle Farnsworth to get the Mets out of the jam. If Baylor could make that decision again, he would probably pinch hit for Farnsworth.

The Mets would have a big bottom of the sixth starting with a Robin Ventura lead-off homer. The Mets would then load the bases for Ordonez who delivered another big hit with a two RBI single. The big inning continued with a Melvin Mora sacrifice fly. Piazza then reached on a Andrews error, who stayed in the game for defensive purposes, allowing Ordonez to score. This gave the Mets a 7-3 lead.

Rodriguez would do all he could do to try to bring the Cubs back. In the top of the seventh, he hit an RBI double off of Cook to pull the Cubs within 7-4. In the ninth, with Armando Benitez on for the save, he hit a two run homer to pull the Cubs within 7-6.

Benitez rebounded to strike out Tarrik Brock to end the game. With that strikeout, the Mets swept the doubleheader, and the team has now won six straight games.

In the doubleheader, the Mets had a number of players come up big. Derek Bell was 6-for-8 with two doubles. Agbayani was 3-for-4 with a double. The most surprising was Ordonez who was 3-for-7 with a double and three RBI. Ultimately, when the Mets are getting that type of production at the plate from Ordonez, they are unbeatable.

Game 1 Notes: Franco’s single in the sixth broke an 0-for-12 stretch to start the season.

Game 2 Notes: Piazza had previously caught Springer in the minor leagues, which was one of the reasons why he caught him in the second game.

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.

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