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2000 Game Recap: Mets Homers Provide Enough Cushion For Leaky Bullpen

Well, in this three game series, it appears as if getting a 2-0 lead was a death knell. To that end, it seems fortunate Glendon Rusch walked the first batter of the game before allowing RBI singles to Bobby Abreu and Mike Lieberthal to give the Mets a 2-0 deficit before they ever came up to the plate.

The Mets got one of those runs back when Derek Bell hit a homer off of Cliff Politte in the bottom of the first. It was a much needed hit for Bell who was mired in a real 12-for-88 stretch (.136) at the same time Benny Agbayani and Jay Payton have taken off at the plate.

Just like the Mets did in the first two games of this series, after scoring their first run of the game, their offense went dormant. After Bell’s homer, Politte would retire the next eight Mets in a row. The Mets would get things started again in the fourth when they loaded the bases with two outs, but Todd Zeile struck out to end the inning.

The Mets couldn’t cash in on rallies in this game, but the one thing they were able to do was hit the long ball. In the fifth, Melvin Mora tied the game on a solo homer, and then in the sixth, Payton hit a two run homer to give the Mets a 4-1 lead.

During this time, Rusch had settled in and gone to work after that tough 36 pitch first inning. In the fourth, he got out of jam with runners on first and second with two outs by getting Politte to pop out. In the seventh, he fought through a Robin Ventura error allowing the lead-off batter to reach. Through it all, Rusch pitched seven strong innings allowing just the two earned runs from the first inning while allowing seven hits and one walk. He would also strike out seven.

Rusch was lifted for the pinch hitter Lenny Harris, who hit a one out double. He’d come around to score later that inning on a two out RBI single by Bell. Little did we know it at the time, but the Mets would need that run.

While the Mets bullpen has been leaky of late, Turk Wendell has been good. He had not allowed a run over his last three appearances, and he had allowed runs once over his last eight appearances. Today, he was not good at all, and he nearly blew the game.

The top of the eighth started with a Scott Rolen homer. After that, Wendell walked Lieberthal, and Lieberthal went to second on a Todd Pratt passed ball. Pat Burrell, who at least didn’t homer today, reached safely on Ventura’s second error of the game. Kevin Jordan hit a sacrifice fly pulling the Phillies to within 5-4. Fortunately, Wendell retired Kevin Sefcik to get out of the inning.

Things were not nearly as eventful in the ninth. Beginning his second inning of work, Wendell retired Doug Glanville and Ron Gant. Bobby Valentine then brought in Dennis Cook to get the left-handed Abreu to end the game. With that, Cook had his first save of the season, and the Mets avoided the sweep.

Game Notes: After his time working on things in Triple-A, Bobby Jones is slated to make his next start against the Pittsburgh Pirates. Darryl Hamilton will start his rehab assignment next week. Armando Benitez called Mets fans dumb for booing John Franco yesterday, and he accused Mets fans of only wanting to see the bad. With his two errors today, Ventura passed his error total for all of last season.

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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