2000 Game Recap: Mike Piazza Sinks Pirates
Even with baseball being the ultimate team sport, there are times you just need your superstar to carry you. With the Mets not being nearly as fundamentally sound as they were last year, the team having some internal strife with the Rickey Henderson drama, and ultimately, the team starting the year two games under .500, they really needed Mike Piazza to go out there and right the ship against the Pittsburgh Pirates.
He did just that.
The game was tied 1-1 heading into the top of the fifth with Wil Cordero hitting a solo homer in the second and Edgardo Alfonzo hitting a sacrifice fly in the third. Piazza would deliver his first big hit of many in this game with an RBI double scoring Alfonzo, who had just tripled.
After a Henderson error in the bottom of the fifth allowed the tying run to score the game, Piazza would again deliver in the seventh with one of his patented opposite field homers. In fact, the Mets would go back-to-back with Robin Ventura following Piazza’s homer with one of his own.
At that point, the Mets were leading 4-2, and they put Al Leiter in position for the win. In his first start since dealing with an injury issue, Leiter was good. Over 7.2 innings, he allowed three runs (two earned) while walking three and striking out six. The only real mar on this start was the homers he allowed to Cordero and Kevin Young.
Leiter should have walked away with the win, but Armando Benitez would blow his first game of the season. After two quick strikeouts, Jason Kendall doubled, and then he scored on a Pat Meares RBI triple. Fortunately, he rebounded by striking out Young to get out of the inning to send the game into extras.
John Franco came into the game, and he would come up big for the Mets pitching two shut-out innings. That helped send the game into the 12th. At that point, the Mets would not be denied.
Rey Ordonez hit a lead-off single against Jose Silva, and Benny Agbayani sent him to third on a double. Melvin Mora gave the Mets the lead with a two RBI single. Unfortunately, he’d get picked off of first on a hard Derek Bell liner right at Young.
The Mets rally didn’t end there. Alfonzo drew a walk, and then Piazza would hit a two run homer to give the Mets an 8-4 lead. On the night, Piazza was 5-for-6 with a two runs, a double, two homers, and four RBI. With this performance, he raised his batting average from .265 to .350.
Mostly, Piazza looked like Piazza, and for seemingly the first time this season, the Mets offense looked like the Mets offense we expected them to be. This should stand as a reminder not just about how important a player Piazza is but just how good this Mets team can be.
Dennis Cook made it interesting in the bottom of the 12th. After issuing a walk to Young and throwing a wild pitch, he allowed a single to Warren Morris and then an RBI double to Mike Benjamin. After that, with the Pirates able to send the game tying run to the plate, Cook settled down to get the last two outs of the game.
Believe it or not, this is the first time this season the Mets have won on back-to-back days. They are not entering a soft spot in their schedule. Hopefully, with that the Mets can put a run together and start looking like the World Series contenders we hoped they could be.
Game Notes: Franco earned the win. It was his first win in 112 appearances.
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.