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2000 Game Recap: Valentine’s Wharton Speech Hangs Over Team

It was a day game after a night game, so Mike Piazza was not there to again single-handedly lift the Mets offense. However, to be fair, it is difficult to know how much of a difference Piazza could’ve made (sacrilegious, I know) with the Pirates having Jimmy Anderson dealing the way he did.

It really was a surprising pitchers duel between Anderson and Glendon Rusch, who was making his 2000 debut for the Mets. What is also interesting is both pitchers had beat out other former Mets pitchers to get their spot in the rotation.

With Rusch, he battled with famed Generation K pitcher Bill Pulsipher for the last spot in the rotation. Anderson, on the other hand, battled with Pete Schourek. At least for today, both pitchers proved their teams right in the decisions they made. In fact, both pitchers worked fast, and they each put up zeros for six innings.

Between the two pitchers, Rusch was arguably the better pitcher. In his complete game, he allowed just one run on four hits while walking one and striking out five. Entering the seventh, Rusch had allowed just one Pirate into scoring position. Really, the only reason he didn’t get the win was he made one mistake to Kevin Young, which turned into a two run homer which was all the difference in the 2-0 loss.

It was a shame for him as Anderson lived by the adage it is better to be lucky than good. The Mets had a few rallies fall completely short.

In the first, the Mets had runners on second and third with one out. Todd Zeile lined out, and Jay Payton would strike out. In the second, Robin Ventura would have a lead-off single, and he would ultimately be stranded at third base.

A two out rally in the fourth left runners at first and second stranded as Rey Ordonez flew out. There were runners at the corner with one out in the fifth when Edgardo Alfonzo hit into an inning ending double play. That was it for the Mets, who just couldn’t get the big hit.

What was left was a very good Mets team, or at least is supposed to be one, losing to a bad Pirates team. The one unknown here is how much Bobby Valentine‘s comments at Wharton about the Mets offseason, which including his problems with the team not re-signing John Olerud, had on this game.

Whatever the case, comments like those from Valentine aren’t going to help him or his team. The lame duck manager who was almost fired last year is going to find himself further on the hot seat for his outspokenness. Mostly, he will be on the hot seat if his team continues underachieving this way.

Game Notes: One of the players Valentine indicated he didn’t want was Derek Bell, who had a diving grab in the sixth inning. He also said he would rather play Matt Franco or Jorge Toca at first over Todd Zeile.

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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