Armando Benitez

Best Mets Of All Time: No. 27 Jeurys Familia

For the first time on this Best Mets list, there is an active player with Jeurys Familia being the best Mets player to ever wear the number 27. Looking beyond that, Familia is one of the best relievers to ever don a Mets uniform. What makes that all the more remarkable is Familia didn’t even begin playing baseball until he was 15 years old. As a result, he’d be a largely unheralded intertional free agent signing in 2007 earning just a $100,000 signing bonus.

After two cups of coffee in 2012 and 2013, Familia burst on the scene in 2014 finishing seventh in the Rookie of the Year voting. He had a 2.21 ERA over 77.1 innings. This would begin what was arguably the best three year stretch for any Mets reliever in team history and what could be the best stretch by any Major League reliever over that time span.

With Familia’s 2014 season, many saw him as the closer of the future. The thought was that was going to have to wait as Jenrry Mejia had established himself as the closer. That was until the first of his steroid suspensions which eventually led to his banishment from baseball. Familia stepped up, and he successfully converted his first 13 save chances and 27 of his first 29.

It should be noted the Mets had VERY little margin of error for much of that season. After a great April start, the Mets suffered a number of injuries leaving them with little to no offense. That problem was compounded by a shallow bullpen. Oft times, Familia was left with a very little margin of error, and he was called upon to pitch more than just one inning. He was a huge reason why the Mets won the division that year.

As great as Familia was during the regular season, he was even better in the postseason. He appeared in four of the five games against the Dodgers in what was an epic NLDS, and he converted the save in all three Mets wins. That included him going four outs to preserve Jacob deGrom‘s great Game 1 start, and it was his pitching two innings to get the save in the clinching Game 5.

Throughout that postseason, he would have a 0.61 ERA. That includes a 1.80 ERA in the World Series. Unfortunately, he was saddled with a blown save in three of those games. However, that speaks more to poor defense and just plain bad decision making by Terry Collins.

Familia rebounded from the World Series disappointment to put together a truly great 2016 season. In that season, he would set a number of Mets records including consecutive saves and saves in a season. In fact, Familia would set a Major League record in the process by converting his 53rd consecutive save opportunity. This would garner him his first All-Star appearance (to date). His signature save conversion that season was in April when he got out of a bases loaded no out jam to save a 1-0 Mets victory:

From 2015 – 2016, Familia set the Mets record for most saves over a two year span with 94. In 2015, he tied Armando Benitez‘s single season record, and in 2016, he blew past it. Over that time span, no National League reliever had converted more saves, finished more games, or pitched more innings than him.

From 2014 – 2016, he pitched more innings than any other National League reliever, and he had the second highest WAR and FIP. Arguably, he was the best reliever in the National League and the best closer in all of baseball. Some of this gets lost in his postseason misfortunes.

Unfortunately, the 2017 season was a disaster. It started with a domestic violence arrest, and he would suffer a season ending injury.

After 2017, he hasn’t quite reached that peak he was at in 2015-2016. However, he did rebound in 2018 to have a very effective season leading to him being traded at the trade deadline. Familia missed New York, and he returned the first chance he got. His return did not go well in year one, but there is hope he can return to form working with former teammate and new pitching coach Jeremy Hefner.

Through it all, Familia has arguably emerged as the best right-handed closer in Mets history. His two year stretch from 2015-2016 saw him close more games and finish more games than any Mets closer. At the moment, he is third all-time on the Mets saves list, and fourth all-time in appearances. Through it all, he is the best Mets player to ever wear the number 27.

Previous

1.Mookie Wilson
2.Mackey Sasser
3. Curtis Granderson
4. Lenny Dykstra
5. David Wright
6. Wally Backman
7. Jose Reyes
8. Gary Carter

9. Todd Hundley
10. Rey Ordonez
11. Wayne Garrett
12. John Stearns

13. Edgardo Alfonzo
14. Gil Hodges
15. Carlos Beltran

16. Dwight Gooden
17. Keith Hernandez
18. Darryl Strawberry

19. Bob Ojeda
20. Howard Johnson
21. Cleon Jones
22. Al Leiter
23. Bernard Gilkey
24. Art Shamsky

25. Pedro Feliciano
26. Terry Leach

2000 Game Recap: Leiter Stopper For Reeling Mets

The Mets were reeling after getting swept in a four game set against the San Francisco Giants, and they had to make a cross country flight. This is as difficult a situation a team can face to begin a three game set. Fortunately, waiting for the Mets was a very bad Marlins team.

The Mets offense mostly stymied in San Francisco went to work immediately as Rickey Henderson got on via a walk, got over, and finally scored on an Edgardo Alfonzo sacrifice fly. That lead grew to 2-0 when Rey Ordonez hit a second inning RBI double.

The Marlins did get one of those runs back in the bottom of the second when Mike Redmond singled home Alex Gonzalez. But, that was it for the Marlins as Leiter would allow just two more hits the entire game. However, it wasn’t all easy.

Leiter got himself into trouble in his final two innings on the mound. In the sixth, he allowed a lead-off walk to Luis Castillo, and he’d walk two batters to load the bases with just one out. He then reached deep down to strike out Mike Lowell and Derek Lee to end the inning.

In the seventh, there runners at first and second with one out after a Redmond double and Mark Smith walk. Leiter got Castillo to fly out before striking out Mark Kotsay to end the inning. That last strikeout was Leiter’s ninth of the game.

At that point, Leiter was done for the game, and the Mets were up 3-1 as Mike Piazza hit a fourth inning solo homer against Jesus Sanchez. That was an interesting side note.

With the Mets series of trades with the Marlins during the Marlins post-1997 World Series fire sale, we got to see many former Mets against many former Marlins. For example, Preston Wilson was one of the centerpieces in the Piazza trade. Also, Sanchez was one of the key pieces in the Leiter trade. Today, Leiter out-dueled Sanchez to beat his former team.

That Mets lead grew to 3-1 when Braden Looper got wild in the eighth walking the bases loaded. Armando Almanza relieved Looper, and he walked Robin Ventura to force in a run. With the three run lead, Bobby Valentine turned to John Franco to get his first save of the year. Franco pitched a 1-2-3 inning to earn his first save since losing the closer job due Armando Benitez preserving the 4-1 victory.

Game Notes: This was Franco’s first save since June 24, 1999. Alfonzo was banged up but played, and Turk Wendell missed the game with a slightly sprained ankle after he kicked a water cooler in San Francisco. This led to Pat Mahomes pitching in a set-up role.

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.

 

2000 Game Recap: A Giant Sweep

If we thought the Mets rebounded in Colorado after losing the final two games against the Reds to mar what was an otherwise perfect homestand, we might have been wrong. After leaving Colorado and facing what promises to be a better Giants team (at least from what we saw of them in April), the Mets just cannot beat these Giants.

For a moment, it did seem like the Mets had this one. Rick Reed was his typical brilliant self over the first seven innings. Aside from a Marvin Benard RBI double in the third, the Giants had real trouble getting to him. In fact, over those first seven innings, he had allowed just three hits. The one hit the Giants got between the fourth and seventh was erased on a double play.

Over those seven innings, the only thing which seemed to be an issue was whether the team would give him the run support he needed. Well, Reed would get that because Mike Piazza was back in the lineup. If there was any doubts after the collision in Colorado, Piazza is still Piazza.

With the Mets trailing 1-0 in the top of the sixth, Piazza launched a two run homer off of Kirk Rueter to give the Mets a 2-1 lead. Really, Piazza did it all for the Mets today. He was 3-for-4 with a double, homer, and two RBI. He even stole a base. On a day when no Mets player could reach, he had three of the Mets four hits, and he was in scoring position three different times. With no one else in the lineup able to muster anything, Piazza was stranded.

Entering the eighth, Reed had retired six in a row, and he had faced the minimum from the fourth inning on. He was under 100 pitches, and Bobby Valentine trusted his real ace. Unfortunately, Reed was done getting himself immediately into trouble issuing a lead-off walk to Armando Rios. Runners were soon at the corners with no outs after a Rich Aurilia single.

Reed rebounded by striking out Ellis Burks, but he could not escape unscathed. Felipe Crespo hit a game tying RBI single, and Valentine would bring in Dennis Cook to face the left-handed Benard. In retrospect, this proved to be a huge mistake.

Cook quickly unraveled. First, he balked putting runners at second and third with one out. Then, he plunked Benard to load the bases. After he plunked Benard, the two got into a war of words. This led to the second time in this series the benches would clear. Ultimately, it would led to the fourth time in this series the Mets would lose to the Giants.

Armando Benitez entered the game, and he just couldn’t get it done. First, Bill Mueller hit a bases clearing triple to give the Giants a 5-2 lead. Later that inning, Jeff Kent hit a two run homer. On that note, Kent just killed his former team in this series.

Overall, this was a 7-2 loss and an ugly four game sweep. In the sweep, the Mets battled some very questionable umpiring. They were bullied by the Giants. Mostly, they beat themselves time and again. Now, they at least get to go back to the East Coast and right the ship against a bad Marlins team.

Game Notes: Rickey Henderson was back in the starting lineup after his meeting with Steve Phillips. He responded well by drawing three walks and scoring in front of that Piazza homer. Derek Bell made his first start in center for the Mets. He later moved to right field.

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.

2000 Game Recap: Mets Bats On Rocky Mountain High

With the two starting pitchers, Al Leiter and Brian Bohanan, on the mound, this was a fairly well pitched Coors Field game. That goes double for Leiter. Things would get very interesting when it went to the bullpens.

The Mets had opened the scoring with a Melvin Mora sacrifice fly in the second. That lead jumped to 5-0 in the fourth when Todd Zeile and Mora homered. The Rockies got a couple of those runs back. First, it was a Jeff Cirillo RBI double in the fourth, and then it was a Tom Goodwin sacrifice fly in the fifth.

While the Rockies were trying to inch back, the Mets were piling on the runs. Todd Pratt, who is filling in for the injured Mike Piazza, homered in the sixth. The Mets then seemingly broke the game open in the seventh. Edgardo Alfonzo hit an RBI single, and Derek Bell scored on a Terry Shumpert error. Later that inning, Pratt would hit a sacrifice fly scoring Alfonzo giving the Mets a 9-2 lead in the seventh.

That lead ballooned to 11-3 in the top of the eighth after a Neifi Perez homer in the bottom of the seventh and an Alfonzo two run homer in the top of the eighth. At that point, Bobby Valentine made a defensive substitution putting Jon Nunnally in for Benny Agbayani because it was a very large lead with two innings remaining.

Had this been Shea Stadium, you would have expected the Mets to hold onto this lead and pull out the victory. However, this is Coors Field. As we have seen over the years, really no lead is safe in this ballpark.

At that point, Leiter was dealing allowing just three earned over seven innings. That’s roughly the equivalent of a shutout at Shea. Due to a number of factors, Valentine pushed Leiter into the eighth even though he was already over 100 pitches. It would seem that was a bit of a mistake, but the defense was a factor.

The inning got off to a bad start when Rey Ordonez made yet another error allowing Cirillo to reach safely. Runners were then on first and second after Leiter issued a walk to Todd Helton. Shumpert then hit a single which was misplayed by Nunnally. Instead of fully charging or playing back, he was inbetween. The balls rolled between his legs scoring Cirillo and Helton and putting Shumpert on third.

That chased Leiter. Turk Wendell got Perez to ground out before loading the bases. Valentine went to Dennis Cook to face the left-haned Tom Goodwin. That didn’t work as Goodwin hit a grand slam. Suddenly, the game which was all Mets was a tense 11-9 game.

Fortunately, the Mets offense kept rolling giving the bullpen some breathing room. Mora lead-off the ninth with a walk, and he’d wind up scoring after a passed ball, Ordonez sacrifice bunt, and finally a wild pitch. Bell, Alfonzo, and Robin Ventura hit consecutive singles to put the Mets up 14-9.

It wasn’t technically a save situation, but with the way this game was going, it effectively was. Armando Benitez made things interesting again by allowing a Shumpert two run homer. Benitez then rebounded to record the final two outs in the Mets 14-11 victory.

In essence, this was a Coors Field game. Ultimately, the Mets were able to pull this one out because they put enough distance between themselves and the Rockies before the Rockies bats truly started clicking. By doing that, the Mets have won their second in a row and have taken this series.

Game Notes: In Piazza’s absence, Pratt has stepped up going 6-for-9 with three runs, a double, homer, and three RBI. With his six errors, Ordonez has now committed two more errors than he did all 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.

Best Mets Of All Time: No. 22 Al Leiter

The Mets have won two World Series with Donn Clendenon and Ray Knight being the MVPs of those series. Aside from being Mets, one thing that links them is they both wore the number 22. However, while each have their own special place in Mets history, the best Mets player to ever wear the number was Al Leiter.

After being the starting pitcher in Game 7 of the 1997 World Series, Leiter was shipped out as Wayne Huizenga ordered a firesale of the team. Leiter, who grew up a Mets fan in New Jersey, would get to live out his childhood dream of pitching for the Mets. On that note, before there was Todd Frazier, Leiter was the Mets player from Toms River, NJ.

The Leiter trade was a significant step for the franchise. Not only did it come at a steep cost which included AJ Burnett, but it was an indication the Mets were looking to take the next step forward after a surprising 88 win season in 1997. Leiter went from a star studded rotation in Florida to the Mets ace.

In that 1998 season, he was 17-6 with a 2.47 ERA, 1.150 WHIP, and an 8.1 K/9. Using the stat ERA+, Leiter’s 1998 season was the best by any Mets pitcher not named Dwight Gooden, Jacob deGrom, or Tom Seaver. Put another way, it was the best season by any Mets left-handed pitcher, a group which includes Tom Glavine, Jerry Koosman, and Johan Santana.

While Mike Piazza got much of the publicity for that season, and deservedly so, by WAR, Leiter was the second best player on that Mets team. It should be noted he was the pitcher who was on the mound when Piazza first came to the Mets. The two of them became friends, and Leiter was one of the reasons Piazza stayed.

Leiter would not be able to replicate his 1998 success in a Mets uniform, but he would go on to put together a great Mets career. While it may not have been his best season, Leiter would come up big time and again.

After the May firings of Bobby Valentine‘s coaching staff, Leiter won six of his next seven starts to help get the Mets from one game under .500 at the beginning of June to 11 games over just one month later. That helped turn the 1999 season from a forgettable one to one of the most special ones in team history.

When the Mets were staring down a late season collapse for the second straight year, Leiter helped right the ship by beating the Braves to allow the team to tie the Reds atop the Wild Card standings to force a play-in game. Leiter would get the ball, and he would turn in what was arguably the greatest regular season pitching performance in team history:

In a game the Mets absolutely had to have, Leiter put his best performance in a Mets uniform pitching a two hit shut-out on the road against the Reds to send the Mets to the NLDS. One interesting note is that while this is classified as a one-game playoff, it is considered a regular season game.

One of the reasons this is interesting is because despite some truly great performances in the postseason, Leiter never won a postseason game with the Mets. Mostly, it was due to some bad luck like when he lost Game 3 of the NLCS when the greatest infield of all-time allowed an unearned run in the Mets 1-0 loss. To be fair, his teammates picked him up in Game 6.

In 2000, for the first time in his Mets career, he was not the designated ace. That didn’t matter all that much as Leiter had a great season making the All Star team while going 16-8 with a 3.20 ERA. Things would not be as difficult for the Mets this year as they easily made the postseason.

In typical Leiter hard luck fashion, his gem in Game 2 of the NLDS went by the wayside when Armando Benitez blew the save. Still, Leiter’s performance was important as it helped right the ship after an opening game loss, and it helped propel the Mets to the NLCS. In the NLCS, Turk Wendell vultured a win.

In that World Series, Benitez yet again blew the save in Game 1 costing Leiter a win. That series did not go the Mets way, and they were forced to win a Game 5 to send the series back to Yankee Stadium. In that Game 5, Leiter gave everything he had to try to will the Mets to victory. Being a terrible hitter, he would even try to bunt his way on to drive home a run. Sadly, he was out of gas after 142 pitches, and his defense just couldn’t get to that one ground ball.

The Mets never reached those heights again during Leiter’s tenure. However, he had one more big moment left in the tank.

Many forget this now, but after the 9/11 attacks, it was Leiter, the local kid from Toms River, NJ, who was handed the baseball when the Mets returned to action in Pittsburgh. He received a no decision after limiting the Pirates to one run over seven innings.

One really important note here is Leiter is the last Mets player to ever wear a First Responder’s cap. On the one year anniversary, Leiter cycled through the caps for each of the first responder agencies pitching a complete game shutout against the Braves.

In Leiter’s final few years with the Mets, they never got back to the postseason, but Leiter still remained a very good pitcher for the team. Notably, he never had a losing record for the Mets, and he won 10+ in his seven years with the Mets with a 3.42 ERA. He would also accomplish some truly astonishing feats.

In 2000, he won the Roberto Clemente Award. In 2002, he became the first Major League pitcher to defeat all 30 teams. In one he probably wants to have back, he was the last ever pitcher to lose a game to the Montreal Expos. Overall, he became of the best pitchers in Mets history.

In fact, he could make the claim as the best ever left-handed pitcher. On that note, among Mets pitchers who have thrown at least 1,000 innings, only Jacob deGrom and Seaver have a better ERA+. Overall, Leiter is in the Mets top 1o in wins, GS, IP, strikeouts, WAR, and ERA+. He should be in the Mets Hall of Fame, but for now, he is going to have to settle for being the best Mets player to ever wear the number 22.

Previous

1.Mookie Wilson
2.Mackey Sasser
3. Curtis Granderson
4. Lenny Dykstra
5. David Wright
6. Wally Backman
7. Jose Reyes
8. Gary Carter

9. Todd Hundley
10. Rey Ordonez
11. Wayne Garrett
12. John Stearns

13. Edgardo Alfonzo
14. Gil Hodges
15. Carlos Beltran

16. Dwight Gooden
17. Keith Hernandez
18. Darryl Strawberry

19. Bob Ojeda
20. Howard Johnson
21. Cleon Jones

2000 Game Recap: Mets Shoot Selves In Foot Continuously In 12 Inning Loss

Look, it was one thing to get shut down by Denny Neagle. He’s a very good pitcher who has a few Cy Young caliber seasons under his belt. It is a whole other thing to get shut down by Steve Parris. While Parris is coming off a decent year, he was coming off a start where the Dodgers battered him for five runs over two innings, and he had an 8.47 ERA entering the game.

Before delving into all that went wrong, there should be focus on what went right – Glendon Rusch.

Rusch entered Spring Training having to win a job in the rotation, and even if he was not the sentimental favorite among fans, Rusch did win that spot. He has backed up that Spring Training performance by having a terrific start to the season.

This start against the Reds marked his third straight start where he pitched at least 7.0 innings while allowing two runs or less. One of the big keys is using a quick tempo and not beating himself. So far, over his 22.2 innings this year, he has walked just two batters.

Really, the one thing which is plaguing him right now is the long ball. That issue arose again when Ken Griffey, Jr. hit a solo homer off of him to give the Reds an early 1-0 lead. Fortunately for Rusch, he’d shut down the Reds from there on out, and he would take the no decision. He more than deserved a win (again), but at least he didn’t take the loss.

The reason Rusch didn’t take the loss was because Robin Ventura hit a solo homer to lead off the fourth. The problem for Ventura and the Mets was this was the only run they would score on the day. Really, they have no one to blame but themselves for that as they wasted opportunity after opportunity.

In the first, Ventura hit into an inning ending double play with runners on first and second. Todd Pratt would hit into a double play to end the second ending any chances of a rally getting going. In the third, Edgardo Alfonzo flew out with runners on first and second.

The Mets next chance to score came in the eighth. Derek Bell drew a two out walk, and he advanced to second on a passed ball. After Alfonzo walked, there was yet another situation with runners on first and second. This time, Ventura struck out swinging to end the inning.

As bad as those earlier missed chances were, the ninth would be a bit of a horror show for the Mets.

Todd Zeile would lead-off the inning with a single. This led to Bobby Valentine pegging Rickey Henderson, the all-time stolen base leader as a pinch runner. Henderson, clearly miffed at the throwing over and uncalled balks, took off for second on a 3-2 pitch to Matt Franco.

Not only would Franco swing and miss at what should’ve been ball four, but Henderson, who didn’t get a good break and wasn’t exactly hustling, was thrown out by a VERY wide margin by Benito Santiago. Henderson didn’t even bother getting into a rundown or anything. He just took the tag and walked off the field.

And yet, after that, the Mets still had a chance in the ninth. Pratt drew a walk, and he would be standing on third after a Rey Ordonez double. This led to some very curious decision making by Valentine. With Mike Piazza on the bench, the best hitter on the team, he stuck with Melvin Mora, who drew a walk to load the bases, and then Jon Nunnally, who flew out to end the inning and send the game into extras.

Nothing really happened in extras until the 12th inning when Armando Benitez entered the game and lost the strike zone. Sandwiched between a Boone sacrifice bunt were two walks (one intentional, one not). The Reds then took the lead on a Travis Dawkins RBI single.

In the 12th, the Mets yet again had a chance to win. After Mora grounded out against Scott Sullivan, Nunally drew a walk and advanced to second on a wild pitch. That put him in scoring position with less than two outs. After a Derek Bell walk, the Mets once again had first and second, and once again, they did nothing with it.

Alfonzo and Ventura both popped out in the infield to end the game. This put a sour note on an otherwise terrific homestand where they went from puzzling to getting to be the team we expected them to be this year. Overall, whenever you get an 8-2 home stand, you take it no matter how disappointing the home stand ends.

Game Notes: In Mets related news, Darryl Strawberry left rehab earlier than expected without any public explanation available. The Mets are now embarking on a long 13 game road trip taking them to Colorado, San Francisco, Florida, and Pittsburgh.

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.

2000 Game Recap: Mets Happier With Bell And Benitez Than Griffey

The last time we saw Al Leiter on the mound against the Cincinnati Reds, he was pitching a complete game two hit shut out to send the Mets to the NLDS. Today, Leiter was not nearly as sharp against the Reds, and he would fatigue late in the game.

Heading into the top of the sixth, the Mets had a 4-1 lead over the Reds. The first run came on back-to-back doubles by Mike Piazza and Robin Ventura to lead off the second inning. Two innings later, Edgardo Alfonzo hit a two run homer driving in Rickey Henderson. Later that inning, Ventura hit a solo shot.

For Leiter, he was fighting it hitting the first batter he faced, Pokey Reese. Entering that sixth inning, he did not have a clean 1-2-3 inning. Fortunately, he was the beneficiary of double plays in the second and fourth. However, he could not get that double play ball in the third.

That inning, Reese doubled off of Leiter, and he advanced to third on a wild pitch. Former Mets prospect Alex Ochoa drove in Reese with an RBI groundout. The wild pitch was indicative of how much Leiter was fighting it on this brutally cold day. Overall, he would hit two batters, throw the wild pitch, and issue three walks.

Leiter’s wildness and ineffectiveness caught up to him in the sixth. He would load the bases with one out after walking Dante Bichette, allowing a double to Dmitri Young, and hitting Aaron Boone. Benito Santiago drove in a run with an RBI groundout. After a Travis Dawkins RBI double and Mark Lewis RBI single, the Reds had a 5-4 lead.

At that point, Leiter was chased from the game with Turk Wendell getting the last out of the inning to end the rally. This was the second straight game Wendell entered during a jam, and he would get out of it keeping the Mets chances in the game alive. Today, he would be rewarded with a win for his efforts.

In the top of the seventh, the Mets tied the score on a lead-off homer by Derek Bell. After that homer, Alfonzo singled, and Piazza doubled to set up second and third with no outs. The Reds then brought in Scott Sullivan. He apparently wasn’t quite ready as he first issued an intentional walk to Ventura before issuing an unintentional bases loaded walk to Jon Nunnally to give the Mets a 6-5 lead.

With the bases loaded and no outs, the Mets seemed primed to blow this game wide open. Instead, Sullivan went from throwing eight straight balls to striking out Jay Payton and Melvin Mora with ease. Matt Franco grounded out to end the rally.

This game would get a little more interesting. It was interesting not in the fact that it was a crazy back-and-forth affair. It wasn’t. Rather, it was interesting because we got early returns on the Mets offseason.

Before the Mets obtained Mike Hampton from the Astros, they had first attempted to get Ken Griffey, Jr. away from the Mariners. In that deal, the Mets were rumored to be parting with Roger Cedeno, Octavio Dotel, and Armando Benitez. When Griffey refused a trade to the Mets, Steve Phillips moved Cedeno and Dotel to the Astros.

In that Astros trade, the Mets not only netted Hampton, but also Bell. Bell has been a revelation for the Mets not only with his terrific right field defense but also for his big hits. One of those big hits came today with the game tying homer to lead off the seventh.

The failed Griffey trade also meant Benitez remained on as the Mets closer. Today, the Mets were happy with that.

After walking Sean Casey to lead off the inning, Benitez responded by striking out Reese and Michael Tucker. That brought Griffey to the plate as the go-ahead run. With the game on the line, the Shea Stadium crowd who let him have it all day continued to let him have it. They then got to celebrate when Benitez blew a fastball by Griffey to end the game.

With the win, the Mets winning streak is now nine games, and more than that, it appears as if the Mets got lucky by having Bell in right instead of Griffey. Of course, Griffey is a future Hall of Famer, and the Mets may still wish they got him, but for now, this is a Mets team who appears to be World Series contenders, and we will all take that.

Game Notes: The Mets wore their 1969 throwbacks. Before the game, Rey Ordonez and Cookie Rojas left the ballpark to protest the Elian Gonzalez deportation. This was part of a nationwide one-day work stoppage. Mora started at short in Ordonez’s place.

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.

2000 Game Recap: Franco Infield Single Walks Off 1-0 Victory

The Mets have been winning lately on the strength of their offense by battering opposing teams. During this seven game winning streak, they have been averaging eight runs per game, and they have put up 10+ runs in three separate games. Today, we found out they could win with their pitching and defense.

This was supposed to be Rick Reed‘s start, but he was held out after he took a ball off the palm of his non-pitching hand. In his place was Pat Mahomes, who for the second time this season has stepped up with a very good start. Much like his last emergency start against the Dodgers, he went into the sixth. The difference is in this 5.2 inning start, he allowed no runs.

Unfortunately for Mahomes, he was once again not rewarded with a win. This time, it was because the Mets offense which had recently exploded couldn’t get out of their own way.

In the first, the Mets loaded the bases against Darren Dreifort, but they wouldn’t push a run across as Mike Piazza hit into an inning ending double play. In the third, Piazza came up with runners on second and third with two out, but he would fly out to end the inning. Obviously, this is just presented as a representation of what happened. With how great Piazza has been this month, there is absolutely no need to finger point in his direction.

The problems were deeper than Piazza. There were some base running gaffes too. After Todd Zeile hit a one out double in the fourth, he made the mistake of trying to go to third on a grounder to short. The former Met Kevin Elster made the heads up play getting Zeile out at third effectively killing that rally.

For a moment, it seemed like the inability to come through in the clutch would hinder a well pitched game by first Mahomes. Dennis Cook may have gotten out of the sixth, but he immediately got into trouble issuing a lead-off walk to Eric Karros.

After a Todd Hundley single, Turk Wendell came into the game, and he masterfully navigated his way out of the jam. First, Adrian Beltre laid down a sacrifice moving the runners up to second and third. Wendell then struck out Elster to put the Mets one out away from getting out of it. After walking the pinch hitting Dave Hansen, he got Devon White to keep the game scoreless.

After that, neither the Mets nor the Dodgers threatened in the eighth. Wendell had pitched a clean eighth, and Armando Benitez pitched a scoreless ninth to give the Mets a chance to get the walk-off win.

Things got started really well for the Mets when Robin Ventura hit a lead-off double against Terry Adams. With that being the winning run, Bobby Valentine pinch ran Melvin Mora to get the much faster runner out there. For a second, that appeared to be a disastrous move.

After Jon Nunnally walked, Jay Payton again hit a groundball to short. Like he had done earlier when he picked off Zeile, Elster threw over to Beltre. Maybe it was the speed of Mora, or maybe it was an umpiring crew who wanted to get home, but Mora was ruled safe loading the bases.

Davey Johnson was irate, and he got tossed from the game. For his part, Beltre was unsure as to whether he had his foot on the bag on the force play, but he was positive he got the tag down. The umpires felt differently.

Elster would not be denied going home on a Rey Ordonez grounder. That brought up Matt Franco. He hit a comebacker which had the potential to turn into an inning ending 1-2-3 double play. Instead, the ball tipped off of Adams’ glove giving the Mets a walk-off 1-0 victory.

The Mets were far from perfect in this game. Unlike the other games against lesser competition, they were stymied time and again, and the Dodgers made them pay for their mistakes. Still, the combination of the Mets terrific bullpen, and a team with near unmatched resolve pulled this game out to continue their winning streak to eight straight games.

Game Notes: This was a makeup game of the April 6th game which was snowed out. Benitez was credited for the win, his first of the 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.

2000 Game Recap: Mets Sweep Double-Header From Cubs

If Don Baylor was angry with Bobby Valentine and the Mets for protesting the Cubs Opening Day victory due to Baylor’s lineup snafu, he may be downright livid right now with the Mets sweeping the doubleheader after Friday night’s game was rained out.

In the opener, Glendon Rusch had another terrific outing to start the season. He followed his complete game loss against the Pirates with a seven inning effort picking up the win after allowing just two earned on four hits. One thing which is really standing out with Rusch right now is he not only working fast, but he is also not beating himself by being stingy with his walks.

When the Cubs finally got to him in the seventh with a pair of homers by Mark Grace and Shane Andrews, the Mets already had a 3-2 lead. With the Mets holding onto Mike Piazza to catch the knuckleballer in the second end of the doubleheader, the Mets utilized more of a small ball approach.

In the first inning, Robin Ventura knocked in the first run of the game with an RBI groundout. The Mets expanded the lead with a groundout by Todd Pratt and an RBI single from Matt Franco.

The Mets would then blow the game open in the eighth. After Pratt drew a lead-off walk and moved to second on a ground out (not ruled a sacrifice) by Franco, Melvin Mora was intentionally walked. Rey Ordonez responded with an RBI single. After Piazza entered the game as a pinch hitter and was walked, Benny Agbayani and Derek Bell hit back-to-back doubles giving the Mets an 8-2 lead in a game they would eventually win 8-3.

In the second half of the doubleheader, for the first time in team history, they would start a knuckleball pitcher with Dennis Springer taking the mound. Springer would acquit himself well taking the no decision after allowing three runs over 5.1 innings.

Springer was staked with an early lead when Agbayani hit a bases loaded two RBI single to give the Mets an early 2-0 lead. The rally ended there was Todd Zeile committed the mortal sin of making the last out at third after getting caught by Henry Rodriguez in his attempt to go from first to third.

The Cubs first got to Springer in the fifth with a Jeff Huson RBI single. They would then chase Springer in the fifth. After allowing back-to-back doubles to Rodriguez and Jeff Reed, the Cubs took the lead 3-2. After a Roosevelt Brown single, Valentine got Springer.

Dennis Cook made an immediate impact by picking Brown off first. After the intentional walk to Andrews, Cook retired Kyle Farnsworth to get the Mets out of the jam. If Baylor could make that decision again, he would probably pinch hit for Farnsworth.

The Mets would have a big bottom of the sixth starting with a Robin Ventura lead-off homer. The Mets would then load the bases for Ordonez who delivered another big hit with a two RBI single. The big inning continued with a Melvin Mora sacrifice fly. Piazza then reached on a Andrews error, who stayed in the game for defensive purposes, allowing Ordonez to score. This gave the Mets a 7-3 lead.

Rodriguez would do all he could do to try to bring the Cubs back. In the top of the seventh, he hit an RBI double off of Cook to pull the Cubs within 7-4. In the ninth, with Armando Benitez on for the save, he hit a two run homer to pull the Cubs within 7-6.

Benitez rebounded to strike out Tarrik Brock to end the game. With that strikeout, the Mets swept the doubleheader, and the team has now won six straight games.

In the doubleheader, the Mets had a number of players come up big. Derek Bell was 6-for-8 with two doubles. Agbayani was 3-for-4 with a double. The most surprising was Ordonez who was 3-for-7 with a double and three RBI. Ultimately, when the Mets are getting that type of production at the plate from Ordonez, they are unbeatable.

Game 1 Notes: Franco’s single in the sixth broke an 0-for-12 stretch to start the season.

Game 2 Notes: Piazza had previously caught Springer in the minor leagues, which was one of the reasons why he caught him in the second game.

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.

2000 Game Recap: Rick Reed Dominant Again

Another game, another dominant Rick Reed performance. Again, Reed allowed just one run over seven innings. We can surmise he is starting to slump because this time he allowed seven hits instead of four. Joking aside, Reed has been absolutely great to start the season, and he is one of the biggest reasons why the Mets are now over .500.

In typical Reed fashion, he gutted out this victory. The opening batter of the game, Marquis Grissom, hit one right back at him striking his palm on this glove side. Reed was in agony, but he picked up the ball and recorded the out. He then got taped up and stayed in the game.

The Brewers couldn’t get to him until Geoff Jenkins homered to lead-off the seventh. Reed responded by getting a fly out and striking out the final two batters he would face in the game. The bullpen would take it from there. preserve the victory.

The hot Mets bats were cooled a bit by Jason Bere, who, like Reed, has been terrific to start the year. Even with Bere pitching well, the Mets did what they needed to do. Instead of extra base hits and grand slams, the Mets were getting them on, getting them over, and getting them in.

In the first, Mike Piazza drove in Rickey Henderson with an RBI groundout. In the second, Reed bunted Kurt Abbott over to second, and Henderson singled sending him to third. Henderson went first to third on the ensuing RBI base hit by Derek Bell, and he would score on the Edgardo Alfonzo sacrifice fly.

The Mets wouldn’t score after that, but that three run lead was more than enough run support for Reed. With Turk Wendell, Dennis Cook, and Armando Benitez combining to shut out the Brewers over the final two innings, the Mets won 3-1, and they now have won three straight for the first time all season.

Game Notes: Rey Ordonez was out of the lineup again. Henderson returned to the lineup, and he was 2-for-3 with two runs and two walks. Once again, Jay Payton got the start over Jon Nunnally in center.

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.