2000 Game Recap: Zeile Grand Slam Wins It
The Mets started this game making a statement, and that statement would be a distant memory in a crazy game with a ton of challenges. That includes but is far from limited to a rain delay of a little more than half an hour.
Newly inserted lead-off batter Derek Bell began the game with a lead-off single. He’d score on an Edgardo Alfonzo double. After Andy Benes walked Mike Piazza, Robin Ventura and Todd Zeile went back-to-back to give the Mets a commanding 5-0 first inning lead.
With Rick Reed on the mound, that should have been more than enough. Little did we know at the time, Reed was dealing with an oblique injury which eventually would force him from the game. As a result of the injury, Reed was not nearly as effective as we’ve seen him all season long.
That began in the bottom of the first with Reed issuing a lead-off walk to Fernando Vina. In that inning, which included a balk, he’d allow a Ray Lankford RBI double and a Craig Paquette RBI single to pull the Cardinals to within 5-2.
What was frustrating for the Mets is they had an opportunity to get those runs back and then some in the second. They loaded the bases with one out, but this time neither Ventura nor Zeile could knock in a run. The Mets would rue that missed chance when Lankford got to Reed again this time hitting a two run homer to pull the Cardinals within a run.
Reed got through that third inning, but he would be pulled from the game. At the moment, it is expected the Mets will put him on the DL, which is a move which will again test the Mets non-existent pitching depth.
Piazza got one of the runs back with a solo homer in the fourth, but shortly, the Mets would fall behind the Cardinals.
With Pat Mahomes going 2.1 innings just three days prior, and there was also the consideration with Reed going down, he may need to enter the rotation. Taking that into account, Bobby Valentine brought in Rich Rodriguez. Rodriguez was as bad as he’s been all year by immediately loading the bases forcing Valentine’s hands.
Mahomes came into the bases loaded no outs situation, and he allowed the first run to score with a wild pitch. Mahomes then walked Mark McGwire to re-load the bases. It was Lankford again getting to the Mets by hitting a sacrifice fly giving the Cardinals a 7-6 lead.
The topsy-turvy start to the game calmed down for a bit until the sixth inning. Mahomes walked Edgar Renteria to lead-off the inning. After Renteria stole a base, he came home to score on a McGwire RBI single expanding the Cardinals lead to 8-6. With Mahomes struggling after 2.1 solid innings of relief, Valentine went to Dennis Cook.
Cook had allowed at least one run in five out of his last seven outings. Today, he stepped up, and he first got the Mets out the jam in the sixth, and then he pitched a scoreless seventh. Getting out of that jam allowed the Mets to stay in the game, a game they once led 5-0.
In the eighth, the Mets would get their chance against Heathcliff Slocumb. Between an error by Paquette allowing Alfonzo to reach safely, Slocumb had walked Jon Nunnally and Piazza to load the bases. After Mark Johnson (who entered on a double switch with Cook) struck out, the Mets had the same situation they had in the second – bases loaded with one out. This time Zeile would deliver hitting a grand slam.
With that grand slam, the Mets went from a very frustrating loss to a 10-8 lead. The Mets would tack on two runs in the ninth to increase their lead to 12-8. After John Franco pitched a scoreless ninth, it was a 12-8 victory. Overall, this was an impressive win albeit a win which potentially came with the loss of Reed.
Game Notes: This was Bell’s first game as the Mets lead-off hitter with McEwing batting second. While he did not have a run or an RBI, Benny Agbayani had a three hit game. The other Met with three hits today was Alfonzo.
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.