2000 Game Recap: Hampton Aces Cardinals Test

The Mets have a bit of a litmus test right now. They are flying halfway across the country after losing two out of three to a bad Padres team. Now, they are facing a red hot Cardinals team who has won five in a row and six of their last seven. If this is a test, they have passed the first part.

The Mets jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the first as Pat Hentgen got wild. After allowing a two out double to Edgardo Alfonzo, he walked three straight. When he walked Todd Zeile, he forced home a run giving the Mets an early 1-0 lead.

For a while that seemed like it was all the support Mike Hampton was going to need. Something has clicked for Hampton over the past month, and he seems more comfortable on the mound. Mostly, he looks like the ace the Mets thought they were getting. Today was yet another ace-like performance.

Hampton would pitch deep into the game lasting eight innings. Over those eight innings, Hampton would allow just two earned on nine hits and two walks while striking out five. While Jim Edmonds got to him with a solo homer in the fifth, one of the key things Hampton did do was keep Mark McGwire in the park.

In addition to shutting down the Cardinals offense, Hampton would help his own cause. In the fourth, Benny Agbayani led off the inning with a single, and he would steal second. That led to a very interesting decision by the Mets with Rey Ordonez bunting over Agbayani for Hampton. It seemed to work as Hampton drove Agbayani home with a sacrifice fly.

Still, after four, the game was tied 2-2. The Hentgen who was wild in the first had settled down, and he had parted the game with a no decision after allowing two runs over six. The Cardinals bullpen would not be as lucky.

In the seventh, Mark Thompson lost the strike zone after retiring the first two batters. He’d then walk Derek Bell, Alfonzo, and Mike Piazza. Tony La Russa went to the bullpen to bring in the lefty Mike Mohler to face Robin Ventura. The move did not work as Ventura hit an RBI single scoring Bell and Alfonzo giving the Mets a 4-2 lead.

It was Ventura again giving the Mets a cushion in the ninth. After Alfonzo doubled and Piazza singled off Heathcliff Slocumb to start the inning, Ventura drove in Alfonzo with a sacrifice fly. The Mets would strand Piazza on the base paths, but fortuantely, that did not matter as Armando Benitez continued his terrific streak by recording the save.

This win harkens back to the Diamondbacks series where the Mets beat another first place team. With these wins, we see the Mets getting terrific production from their top player with key plays from role players like Agbayani. With Benitez shutting the door on the back-end the Mets are in a very good place right now.

Game Notes: Bobby Valentine swore after the game Ordonez was bunting for a base hit. This was a key point of contention as Ordonez and Valentine have been feuding lately over Ordonez’s poor hitting. This has become a key issue with Melvin Mora getting closer to coming off the DL.

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.