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2000 Game Recap: Hampton’s Gritty Performance Spoiled

Look, Armando Benitez was going to blow a save sooner or later. With how dominant he has been on this recent stretch, you knew it was going to happen sooner or later. He’s allowed these hiccups, but ultimately, he’s not the biggest reason the Mets lost this game. Far from it.

The Mets seemed like they were primed to crush the Phillies. In the first, Edgardo Alfonzo hit a two out single against Paul Byrd, and then Mike Piazza hit a two run homer giving the Mets a 2-0 lead. After that homer, the Mets did nothing.

Byrd came into this game with a 7.86 ERA, and he had allowed 4+ runs in five of his nine starts. In two of his last four starts, he allowed 6+. However, today, after allowing that two run homer to Piazza, the Mets would muster just four more hits and one walk over the ensuing five innings.

That included a blown opportunity in the sixth. Robin Ventura hit a two out single putting runners at the corners with two outs, but Todd Zeile was unable to capitalize on the opportunity as he grounded out to end the inning.

Still, the Mets would have the lead as Mike Hampton, who finally pitched without a rain delay, was brilliant. Through the first six innings, he shut out the Phillies limiting them to two hits. Now, that doesn’t mean the Phillies didn’t get their chances. They certainly did with Hampton walking six batters.

That meant he needed to do a few Houdini acts. In the first, he walked two batters, but he got around that by picking Ron Gant off first and getting Mike Lieberthal to hit into an inning ending double play. Again, in the third, Hampton walked two, and he would retire Lieberthal to end the jam. It would not be until the seventh when the Phillies got to Hampton.

In the seventh, the Phillies rally started with Kevin Sefcik and Alex Arias leading off the inning with back-to-back singles. After Desi Relaford sacrificed them over, Doug Glanville pulled the Phillies to within 2-1 by hitting a sacrifice fly. Hampton got out of the inning retiring Gant.

After John Franco pitched a scoreless eighth, Benitez took the mound looking to record his 17th save of the season and extend his scoreless inning streak past 17.0 innings. That all ended when Pat Burrell led off the top of the ninth with a solo homer.

Benitez got out of that inning without allowing another base runner, but he would not be so lucky in the 10th. After the Mets went down 1-2-3 in the bottom of the ninth, Glanville led off the inning with a double. Benitez seemed to shake it off striking out the next two batters. That’s when Liebererthal, who had failed twice earlier in the game, came through with an RBI single to give the Phillies their first lead in the game.

After the Mets went down 1-2-3 in the 10th, they would suffer a very frustrating 3-2 loss. The Phillies just had Benitez’s number today, but at the end of the day, you really have to pin this on a Mets offense who could not score any runs over nine innings against a very suspect Phillies pitching staff.

Game Notes: Curt Schilling said he would be willing to accept a trade to either the Mets or the Yankees.

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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