2000 Game Recap: Hampton Finally Pitches Like Mets Ace

Well, the Mets got exactly what they needed. In an insane road trip apparently put together by someone who doesn’t own a map, the Mets finally got a day off. Rickey Henderson was back in the lineup putting his problems aside for a day. Finally, they got that well pitched effort from Mike Hampton after a Mets loss.

And the Mets needed this effort from Hampton. They needed it because they needed to get off the snide. They also needed it because Kris Benson was nearly equal to him today.

As an early practical matter, the Mets got their first hit out of the way early on an Edgardo Alfonzo infield single. That caused a bit of relief for a team who was just nearly no-hit by Ryan Dempster. There was more relief in the third when Derek Bell and Alfonzo hit back-to-back homers to give the Mets a 2-0 lead.

After that, there was no more scoring in what proved to be a 2-0 Mets victory in what proved to be a pitcher’s duel. While Benson was putting up zeros in seven of the eight innings he pitched, Hampton put up zeros in all 8.1 innings he pitched. However, just because Hampton didn’t allow a run doesn’t mean it was always easy. In fact, he needed to get a number of big outs.

In the second, Kevin Young singled and moved to second on a wild pitch. Hampton got the next to Pirates to ground out to preserve the tie. The biggest challenge came in the fifth when Young singled and Wil Cordero doubled to begin the inning.

Hampton first struck out Pat Meares. Then, with the infield drawn in, Robin Ventura fielded the Luis Sojo grounder, and he nailed Young at the plate. Hampton then escaped the jam by getting Benson to ground out. The Pirates could not get to Hampton again until the ninth.

In that ninth inning, Hampton allowed a lead-off single to Brian Giles, and then with one out, he plunked Cordero. That put the tying runs on base with one out. Despite his recent struggles, Bobby Valentine went to Armando Benitez to record the save.

Benitez would reward Valentine’s faith in him getting Meares to fly out before striking out John Vander Wal to end the game. With that, Benitez recorded his ninth save of the season, and mostly, the struggling Mets finally won a game. That was even better with Hampton playing the role of stopper like the team had hoped he would be when they obtained him this past offseason.

Game Notes: With the off day, the Mets are going to skip Bill Pulsipher‘s next start and move him to the bullpen. While the team may want to keep him there permanently, those plans may be encumbered by Rich Rodriguez‘s contract. Henderson was placed on outright waivers but said they have no intention of releasing him.

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