Armando Benitez

Best Mets Of All Time: No. 53 Chad Bradford

In 2006, the New York Mets focused on building a great bullpen which could throw a number of looks and arm angles at you. They wanted something dynamic which could help this Mets team take that final step further to making them a postseason team. Chad Bradford was a perfect fit for exactly what the Mets wanted to accomplish.

That 2006 bullpen was something special, and it was a large reason why the Mets were able to stave off a number of injuries to their pitching rotation. Out of all of those relievers, it was Bradford who led that bullpen in FIP. In fact, his FIP was the sixth best among Major League relievers. One of the reasons why was his funky and deceptive delivery.

Bradford had the best FIP out of any set-up man in that 2006 season. Overall, he was 4-2 with two saves, a 2.90 ERA, 1.161 WHIP, and a 3.46 K/BB. With his motion, he was largely a ROOGY if you will for most of his career, but he was effective enough against left-handed batters in 2006 as well making him much more versatile a reliever.

As good as he was in the regular season, he was simply great in the postseason. Bradford would appear in seven of the Mets 10 postseason games. In those games, he had two holds while not allowing a run and holding batters to a .211/.286/.211 batting line. What made that work all the more remarkable was his appearing in pressure spots.

That included his last ever appearance in a Mets uniform. Between the Endy Chavez catch, Yadier Molina homer, and Carlos Beltran strikeout, Bradford’s work in that Game 7 was obviously overlooked. Looking back, he had pitched a scoreless seventh before handing the ball to Aaron Heilman. While the Mets didn’t win, you don’t more pressurized situations than the late innings of a Game 7, and in that moment, Bradford showed himself to be a tough as nails reliever.

In total, Bradford was great in 2006 in his one and only season with the Mets. Because he was arguably the best set-up reliever in 2006, and he was great in the postseason, Bradford is the best out of the five Mets players to ever wear the number 53.

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
27. Jeurys Familia
28. Daniel Murphy

29. Frank Viola
30. Michael Conforto
31. Mike Piazza

32. Jon Matlack
33. Matt Harvey

34. Noah Syndergaard
35. Rick Reed
36. Jerry Koosman
37. Casey Stengel
38. Skip Lockwood
39. Gary Gentry
40. Bartolo Colon
41. Tom Seaver

42. Ron Taylor
43. R.A. Dickey
44. David Cone
45. Tug McGraw

46. Oliver Perez
47. Jesse Orosco
48. Jacob deGrom
49. Armando Benitez
50. Sid Fernandez
51. Rick White
52. Yoenis Cespedes

 

Best Mets Of All Time: No. 52 Yoenis Cespedes

When you obtain a player at the trade deadline, you are really rolling the dice, and you are hoping that player can have a tremendous impact on your team as it attempts to make it to the postseason. That was exactly what the Mets got out of Yoenis Cespedes in 2015.

The 2015 season was a turbulent one. The Mets had a number of injuries as it saw an early April lead turn into a deficit in July. The Mets offense couldn’t score runs. There was a failed trade which had Wilmer Flores crying, Zack Wheeler trying to convince the Mets not to trade him, and Carlos Gomez stuck (temporarily) in Milwaukee with previously unknown hip issues. It was a mess which led to the Mets acquiring Cespedes.

After a relatively slow start, one where the Mets had gone atop the division, Cespedes went on an epic tear. From August 3 – August 26, he hit .323/.356/.625 with six doubles, a triple, seven homers, and 21 RBI. From August 3 – September 14, he hit .315/.361/.714 with 10 doubles, three triples, 17 homers, and 42 RBI. Rarely have the Mets had as an exciting and dynamic a player as what Cespedes was during this stretch. It wasn’t just that he was hitting. It was the hits he got.

In terms of that season, what really stood out was his Labor Day series against the Nationals which essentially locked up the division for the Mets. In that three game series, Cespedes was 6-for-14 with three doubles, two homers, and seven RBI. Honestly, you could not ask for more from him or anyone.

Keep in mind, it wasn’t just his bat but his defense as well. He willingly bounced back-and-forth between left and center (winning the AL Gold Glove in left), and he would make a number of highlight reel plays. Those especially showed off his great arm.

When the Mets went to the postseason, Cespedes did not have the same level of impact as he did in the regular season. That said, there were two very important plays which come to mind. The first was in Game 3 of the NLDS when he sent Citi Field into an absolute frenzy with one of the best bat flips in Mets history:

The next moment was in Game 1 of the NLCS. In the fifth inning of that game, the Cubs had already tied the game in the fifth inning on a Starlin Castro RBI double. Two batters later, Javier Baez hit a single to right which normally would have scored a run. Normally . . .

The Mets would win the pennant but lose the World Series. After a long odyssey in the offseason which saw the Mets initially try to replace Cespedes with Alejandro De Aza, Cespedes had turned down a deferred contract from the Washington Nationals to return to the Mets on what was essentially a one year deal. Cespedes earned that deal and then some.

It’s odd to think about, but the 2016 season would prove to be Cespedes only real full season in a Mets uniform. In the beginning, it was all fun with the cars and crazy breakfasts. In that season, he was an All-Star, win a Silver Slugger, and he would finish eighth in MVP voting. He did all that despite it being an injury plagued year where he would get criticism for golfing (even if Kevin Long thought it helped his swing). Despite the criticism, the fact was the Mets were a better team with Cespedes on the field.

Part of the reason was Cespedes came up big when the Mets needed him most. In August, as the Mets made their improbable run towards the top Wild Card, Cespedes was torrid hitting .340/.400/.680 with two doubles, five homers, and 10 RBI. That included a walk-off homer against the Marlins.

That Mets team would charge to the postseason, but sadly, they could not advance past the Wild Card Game. This time, the Mets would not let Cespedes linger or risk him signing with another team. Rather, they locked him up quickly. Unfortunately, it has been two injury plagued years as we discovered Cespedes had a double heel problem which required surgery. Things went from bad to worse when he broke his ankle in a wild boar attack.

However, through all of that, Cespedes was a game changing type of bat. That was no more apparent than his last game before his surgeries. After a lengthy DL stint, the myopic Mets activated Cespedes just for the Subway Series. In the lone game he was able to DH, he was 2-for-5 with two runs, a homer, and an RBI.

The hope now is if the Mets ever play in 2020 Cespedes can be that game-changing bat again whether that be as a DH or back in LF. As it stands now, many hoped for more from him in this last contract, but when all is said and done, he is the sixth best Mets LF by WAR, which is remarkable considering he’s played fewer games as a Met than anyone in the top eight and the second fewest among anyone in the top 12. That speaks to how big his impact has been in a short time and why he’s the best Mets player to ever wear the number 52.

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
27. Jeurys Familia
28. Daniel Murphy

29. Frank Viola
30. Michael Conforto
31. Mike Piazza

32. Jon Matlack
33. Matt Harvey

34. Noah Syndergaard
35. Rick Reed
36. Jerry Koosman
37. Casey Stengel
38. Skip Lockwood
39. Gary Gentry
40. Bartolo Colon
41. Tom Seaver

42. Ron Taylor
43. R.A. Dickey
44. David Cone
45. Tug McGraw

46. Oliver Perez
47. Jesse Orosco
48. Jacob deGrom
49. Armando Benitez
50. Sid Fernandez
51. Rick White

 

Best Mets Of All-Time: No. 51 Rick White

When it comes to Mets fans choosing the best Mets player to ever wear the number 51 is a bit of a pick your poison. After all, the first Mets player of note to wear the number 51 was Mel Rojas, who imploded the 1998 season. There was also Jack Leathersich and Jim Henderson who saw their arms and careers blow up due to gross mishandling by the Mets organization. There is also current Met Paul Sewald who finally got his first MLB win after starting it 0-14 over his first 119 appearancess.

That brings us the the pick for the best Mets pitcher to ever wear the number 51 – Rick White.

White was a Mets midseason pickup in 2000 to help solidify the bullpen and help the Mets get to the World Series. He’d have a very good first impression with the Mets not allowing a run in his first three appearances and only allowing two runs over his first 11 appearances. In those appearances, he was worked pitching 17. 1 innings.

During that essentially half-season with the Mets, he was a very good reliever going 2-3 with two holds, a save, and a 3.81 ERA. As good as he was in the regular season, he was even better in the NLDS pitching very important innings to help the Mets upset the San Francisco Giants.

In Game 3 of the NLDS, he entered a tie game in the 12th inning. After pitching two scoreless innings, he would be the winning pitcher when Benny Agbayani hit a walk-off homer. White did not see the same success in the NLCS or World Series partially due to not being used much, but it was his work in a pivotal NLDS game which let the Mets get to that point.

The 2001 season was White’s only fully season on the Mets roster. In that season, his 107 ERA+ was second only to Armando Benitez among Mets relievers who spent the entire season with the team. That made him one of the Mets players who wore the first responder caps. He wore that cap when he appeared in the Mets second game after the 9/11 attacks earning a hold as that Mets team got back to .500.

That Mets team had made a somewhat improbable run to try to get back into the NL East race. White did his part over that stretch. In his five appearances, he was 1-0 with three holds and a 0.00 ERA. That would prove to be the end of his Mets career as he would sign with the Rockies in the offseason.

In his Mets career, he was 6-8 with three saves, a 3.86 ERA, and a 1.286 WHIP. He was a good reliever compiling a 111 ERA+, and he was a member of the 2000 pennant winning Mets team. Ultimately, White was the best Mets player to ever wear the number 51.

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
27. Jeurys Familia
28. Daniel Murphy

29. Frank Viola
30. Michael Conforto
31. Mike Piazza

32. Jon Matlack
33. Matt Harvey

34. Noah Syndergaard
35. Rick Reed
36. Jerry Koosman
37. Casey Stengel
38. Skip Lockwood
39. Gary Gentry
40. Bartolo Colon
41. Tom Seaver

42. Ron Taylor
43. R.A. Dickey
44. David Cone
45. Tug McGraw

46. Oliver Perez
47. Jesse Orosco
48. Jacob deGrom
49. Armando Benitez
50. Sid Fernandez

 

Best Mets Of All Time: No. 50 Sid Fernandez

Sid Fernandez, or as Mets fans came to know and love him, El Sid, had become a beloved left-handed pitcher who had a sneaky fastball which just seemed to rise after he released it. With that sneaky delivery, on any particular day, you could see a gem from him with fans hanging S from the rafters, and when those days came, it was pure magic.

For Fernandez, he had come to the Mets in 1984, and with so many promising young arms, he really had to prove himself. Prove himself he would, and better yet, he would have one of the most important outings in team history.

Fernandez didn’t make the Opening Day rotation out of the 1984 or 1985 seasons. However, when he got called up each season, he stuck, and he would prove he belonged. In 1984, he had a respectable 102 ERA+. In 1985, he would lead the league with a 9.5 K/9. Finally, in 1986, Fernandez would make the Opening Day rotation.

In that 1986 season, Fernandez was terrific matching Dwight Gooden with a team high 200 strikeouts. He would also be named an All-Star for the first time in his career. His best start of that season, and possibly his career was his July 11, 1986 start against the Braves. In that two-hit shut out, he would strike out nine batters.

While he had won a career high 16 games,  10+ strikeout games, shutouts, and was an All-Star, they all pale in comparison to what Fernandez did in the postseason.

After being a hard luck loser against the scuff-marking Mike Scott in Game 4 of the NLCS, Fernandez was moved to the bullpen in the World Series as Davey Johnson opted to go with just three starters. This led to Fernandez making three relief appearances in the World Series, which included a 2.1 inning stint in Game 7.

After the Mets epic comeback in Game 6, there was a rainout which allowed the Red Sox to turn to Bruce Hurst, who would’ve been the World Series MVP, instead of Oil Can Boyd. Making matters worse for the Mets, Ron Darling didn’t have it lasting just 3.2 innings with the Mets falling behind 3-0.

Fernandez entered with a runner on second and two outs. After walking Wade Boggs, he got Marty Barrett to fly out to end the inning. Fernandez completely subdued the Red Sox offense. In the bottom of the sixth, Lee Mazzilli pinch hit for him and would start the game tying rally. Ultimately, Fernandez earned a no decision, but more importantly, he would earn a World Series ring.

Fernandez would find himself an All-Star again in 1987. In making consecutive All-Star teams, he joined Gooden as the only multiple-time All Stars from that World Series rotation. Moreover, in terms of Mets history, Fernandez, Jerry Koosman, and Jon Matlack are the only left-handed Mets starters to make consecutive All-Star appearances. In his last All-Star appearance, Fernandez would earn the save.

Fernandez was again an important part of the Mets NL East winning club in 1988. During that season, Fernandez led the league in H/9 for the second time in his career. As a matter of fact, Fernandez has the third best career H/9 mark in Major League history trailing just Nolan Ryan, Clayton Kershaw, and Sandy Koufax. Sadly, he didn’t pitch well in his one start on over-extended rest, and the Mets lost that series in seven losing the NLCS for the first time in team history.

The 1989 season saw Fernandez have his second best season in a Mets uniform by ERA+ (115). That was despite his starting the season in the bullpen with the team due to the emergence of David Cone. Despite that, he was the best pitcher in the rotation leading the team in ERA+, strikeouts, wins, and winning percentage. He’d also have one of the best starts of his career ruined. His 16 strikeout effort went up in flames as Lonnie Smith hit a walk-off homer. Speaking of homers, never a slouch at the plate, Fernandez would hit his first and only career homer.

From there, the Mets great run was nearing its end, and Fernandez was starting to have some injuries pile up. He would deal with a broken wrist and some knee issues. While the Worst Team Money Could Buy was an epic disappointment, Fernandez was one of the few who did his job well. In that 1992 season, he was the best pitcher on the team with a 129 ERA+ going 14-11 with a 2.73 ERA, 1.067 WHIP, and an 8.1 K/9.

His Mets career was over after the 1993 season, a season where he suffered another knee injury. In total, he was the sixth ever Mets pitcher by WAR with the fifth most wins in team history falling two short of 100. He is also ranked third in WHIP and second in H/9 (again trailing Ryan).

He rates well in terms of strikeouts with the eighth best K/9 and the fourth most strikeouts. Really, Fernandez is all over the Mets all-time leaderboards including having the ninth best WPA. Through it all, Fernandez is certainly one of the best starters in team history, one of the most important, and very clearly, the best Mets player to ever wear the number 50.

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
27. Jeurys Familia
28. Daniel Murphy

29. Frank Viola
30. Michael Conforto
31. Mike Piazza

32. Jon Matlack
33. Matt Harvey

34. Noah Syndergaard
35. Rick Reed
36. Jerry Koosman
37. Casey Stengel
38. Skip Lockwood
39. Gary Gentry
40. Bartolo Colon
41. Tom Seaver

42. Ron Taylor
43. R.A. Dickey
44. David Cone
45. Tug McGraw

46. Oliver Perez
47. Jesse Orosco
48. Jacob deGrom
49. Armando Benitez

 

2000 Game Recap: Shea Abbott

After a hot start to the season, Glendon Rusch has started to be a little less reliable. The pitcher who started the season off allowing two or fewer runs while going deep into games is showing he is quite prone to the clunker. Today was one of those clunkers.

Things weren’t that bad through three with the Orioles only run coming off of Cal Ripken Jr. solo homer. In the fourth, it was a lead-off walk to B.J. Surhoff and the long ball again which got to Rusch.

After Surhoff walked, Rusch got the next two outs, including a sacrifice bunt by opposing pitcher Jason Johnson. Brady Anderson hit a double, and then, the inexplicably great offensive season out of nowhere by Mike Bordick continued with his hitting a two run homer giving the Orioles a 4-0 lead.

Todd Zeile would get the Mets back into the game with a three run homer in the fourth, but the Orioles would increase their lead in the fifth on a Surhoff RBI single and Charles Johnson sacrifice fly. Through five, Rusch was done for the day after allowing six runs.

Pat Mahomes kept the Orioles scoreless in the sixth, and the Mets offense would go to work.

Robin Ventura drew a lead-off walk. and he’d go to second on a Zeile second. On what seemed to be his first big hit in forever (all season?), Jay Payton hit an RBI double scoring Ventura. Kurt Abbott then drove home Zeile on a sacrifice fly. Later that inning, after Buddy Groom came on for Johnson, Jason Tyner tied the game with an RBI single.

The Mets would get the lead for the first time in this game on a Payton homer off Mike Trombley to lead-off the eighth. That lead was short lived as Armando Benitez blew the save. That blown save was not entirely on him.

Initially, it was John Franco who was brought on for the save situation. However, after he had loaded the bases with one out, Benitez came on to get the save against his former team. After a Will Clark sacrifice fly, the game was tied. Benitez would recover to get Ripken out to keep the game tied 7-7.

The Mets had a chance to walk-off in the ninth. There were runners on first and second with one out, but Ventura would strike out. Todd Pratt pinch hit for Benitez, and he would fly out to end the inning. After Dennis Cook pitched a scoreless 10th, the Mets would have their shot again in the bottom of the 10th.

It wouldn’t take long before Abbott hit a walk-off homer against Jose Mercedes to give the Mets an 8-7 victory. That homer was the Mets first walk-off homer of the season, and it is a great victory which should hopefully propel the Mets into the first leg of the Subway Series against the Yankees.

Game Notes: The recently released Jon Nunnally couldn’t latch on with another MLB club, and he will be signing with the Orix Blue Wave. Darryl Hamilton has begun hitting out of a cage after his toe surgery.

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. 49 Armando Benitez

When it comes to Armando Benitez, there is so much over-focus on the times he blew a save you almost get the impression he was a bad closer. Really, he was far from it. In fact, he is one of, if not the, most dominant reliever the Mets have ever had in their history.

For the most part, Benitez was an unknown to Mets fans when he was part of the Todd Hundley three way deal which netted the Mets Benitez and Roger Cedeno. He was not an unknown for long as he burst onto the scene.

His Mets career started with nine scoreless outings and 15 strikeouts in 9.2 innings. He was a dominant set-up man for long established John Franco, and when Franco went down to injury, Benitez seamlessly stepped in as a the Mets closer. In fact, Benitez was so great as the closer that when Franco returned from injury he remained in the closer’s role.

While the narrative changed in subsequent years, Benitez was great when the Mets needed him most. Over the final month of the season as the Mets were desperately fighting for the Wild Card, he was 1-1 converting 6/7 save attempts with a 0.64 ERA and 23 strikeouts in 14.0 innings. He would be the winner of game 162 which forced the tiebreaker game against the Reds.

In that season, he was the second best reliever in all of baseball trailing just Billy Wagner in K/9, ERA, FIP, and WAR. While overlooked, he carried that into the postseason.

In that 1999 postseason, Benitez was 1/2 in save opportunities with a 1.00 ERA in 9.0 innings pitched over seven appearances. He would strike out 11 batters. Many remember him for blowing a save in Game 6, but they forget his save in Game 4, and they forgot his pitching a scoreless 10th in Game 5. After allowing that run in Game 6, he rebounded to get the final out of the inning to send that game into the 11th.

In 2000, Benitez was arguably even better than he was in 1999. Benitez had battling gout that year, but he spent most of that time inflicting the pain on batters setting what was then a Mets single-season save record with 41 saves. He led the league with 68 games finished, which is still a Mets record to this day.

When focusing on his struggles in the postseason this year, it is still important to remember he helped pitch the Mets to the postseason. He would also be the last Mets pitcher to ever record a World Series save at Shea Stadium.

Benitez would again set the Mets single-save mark in 2001, and he would set the Mets mark for saves over two seasons. From 1999 – 2001, Benitez had the fourth most saves in the majors, and he struck out more batters than any other reliever in baseball. Arguably, this made him the most dominant National League reliever over this time frame. Inarguably, he was instrumental in the Mets success during this period.

Really, why many fans don’t want to accept it, Benitez was a great closer, and he is one of the best in team history. His 11.8 K/9 is best among all Mets relievers, and his 2.70 ERA is ninth best. By WAR, he is the fourth best reliever, and saves, he is the second best Mets closer of all-time. By WPA, he is the fifth best pitcher to ever don a Mets uniform. Ultimately, he is the best Mets player to ever wear the number 49.

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
27. Jeurys Familia
28. Daniel Murphy

29. Frank Viola
30. Michael Conforto
31. Mike Piazza

32. Jon Matlack
33. Matt Harvey

34. Noah Syndergaard
35. Rick Reed
36. Jerry Koosman
37. Casey Stengel
38. Skip Lockwood
39. Gary Gentry
40. Bartolo Colon
41. Tom Seaver

42. Ron Taylor
43. R.A. Dickey
44. David Cone
45. Tug McGraw

46. Oliver Perez
47. Jesse Orosco
48. Jacob deGrom

 

2000 Game Recap: Wild Leiter Outpitches Trachsel

If you’ve seen Steve Trachsel pitch before, you know it is a nightmare. First and foremost, you can see flights take off from Laguardia and land in LAX before he throws a pitch. Also, like we saw in the 1998 Wild Card play-in game, Trachsel can just lull a team to sleep with his pace and absolutely shut a team down. That’s what he did to the Mets today.

Over Trachsel’s seven innings, the Mets could just muster six hits. Fortunately for the Mets, two of those hits came in the fourth inning when Edgardo Alfonzo and Todd Zeile hit a pair of doubles giving the Mets a 1-0 lead. Zeile’s double looked foul for a moment but curved back in and confused Rays left fielder Greg Vaughn. Believe it or not, that would be it for the scoring in this game.

As good as Traschel was, Al Leiter was guttier. Leiter, who is mostly known for using his cutter to constantly pound the inside of the strike zone against right-handed batters, just couldn’t locate that pitch. That lead to him and Mike Piazza reconfigure the game plan on the fly. Instead of the vaunted cutter, we saw more curveballs. That proved to be a great decision.

In Leiter’s 6.2 innings, he only had only one 1-2-3 inning. That was partially a result of his walking five batters and hitting another. Still, with his also striking out eight batters, the Rays batters really had little other option than to just stand at the plate and hope Leiter walked them. In the end, while Leiter was wild, he was still difficult to hit.

In the seventh, Leiter had reached the end of the line. He allowed a lead-off single to Trachsel. After getting the next two out, he walked Vaughn. At that point, he had throw 124 pitches, and with the left-handed hitting Fred McGriff due up, Bobby Valentine went to Dennis Cook.

While Cook has struggled this year, McGriff was only 1-for-5 against him in his career. That became 1-for-6 when Cook got McGriff to ground out to end the inning. From there, we saw almost a mirror image of what happened over the final innings last night. After John Franco pitched a 1-2-3 inning, Armando Benitez got himself into trouble in the ninth.

Miguel Cairo hit a one out single, and he immediately got himself into scoring position by stealing second. After a walk to Steve Cox, the game was once again in Vaughn’s hands. For the second straight night, Benitez struck out Vaughn to end the game and earn the save.

Just because you are facing bad teams, it doesn’t mean they can’t play you tough. That’s what the Rays did tonight. That said, the Mets perserved and did what they needed to do to get to pull out the 1-0 victory.

Game Notes: After getting hit in the head by Gary Sheffield and missing yesterday’s game, Mike Piazza returned to the lineup and was 0-for-4. Melvin Mora got the start at short, and Jay Payton was in center again. Payton is earning his playing time as he has gone 4-for-12 with a walk, double, homer, and three RBI over his last seven games. He is also provided good defense out there.

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: Zeile Homer Helps Mets Outlast McGriff

After a long road trip with a lot of travel, there is nothing like coming home, having an off day, and then seeing the lowly Tampa Bay Rays on your schedule. The Mets took full advantage today.

What is interesting is the Mets actually fell behind in this game, and that was due to the bat of Fred McGriff.

Entering the sixth, the Mets had led 2-1 off of a pair of solo homers from Jay Payton and Todd Pratt, who started in place of the injured Piazza, off of Rays starter Albie Lopez. As noted above, McGriff would not let that lead stand.

In the fourth, Gerald Williams hit a lead-off double, and he would score off a McGriff RBI single. In the top of the sixth, McGriff hit a two run homer giving the Rays a 3-2 lead. Looking at that Rays lineup, McGriff was the one batter Glendon Rusch really struggled facing.

Two of the six hits Rusch allowed were off the bat of McGriff and all three of the runs scored off of Rusch were RBI courtesy of McGriff. If not for McGriff, Rusch probably gets through his six innings relatively unscathed. Instead, he walked off the mound in the sixth down 3-2.

Unlike most of his starts, his teammates would pick him up and reward him for his quality start by giving him the run support he needed. Against Rays reliever Rick White, Edgardo Alfonzo would hit a one out double. After Robin Ventura walked, Todd Zeile hit a three run homer to put the Mets ahead for good.

The seventh inning was eventful. Rusch allowed a lead-off single to Mike Difelice before getting lifted for Pat Mahomes. Mahomes did a bit of a tight rope walk. After recording two outs, he allowed a single to Steve Cox, and he uncorked a wild pitch and would walk Randy Winn to load the bases. Mahomes rebounded to get Williams to fly out to end the inning.

After that, John Franco pitched a perfect eighth, and Armando Benitez worked his way around the two walks he issued in the ninth to record his 14th save of the season. What made the save so impressive for Benitez was how he rebounded from the wildness to strike out the ever dangerous Greg Vaughn who stepped to the plate as the tying run.

With that, the Mets began a homestand with a 5-3 win, and they will look forward to seeing Piazza get back into the lineup soon and how this now revamped roster will take the next step forward.

Game Notes: Benitez has not allowed a run over his last 12 appearances striking out 14 in 12 innings. Mike Piazza was held out of the lineup for precautionary reasons and may be able to return tomorrow. With Piazza’s injury, Vance Wilson was called up from Triple-A with Jim Mann being sent down. Bill Pulsipher was traded to the Diamondbacks to bring Lenny Harris back to the Mets. With his hitting just .189, Jon Nunnally was designated for assignment.

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: Pratt Caps Off Grand Comeback

If you thought this game went long, you were right. In fact, this back-and-forth 4:09 game between the Mets and Dodgers was the longest nine inning game in Mets history. That also makes it the longest Mets nine inning victory in team history.

Melvin Mora was rushed back off the DL after Rey Ordonez‘s injury, and he found himself atop the lineup and playing center. If there was any rust, Mora did not show it hitting a lead-off single, and stealing second. On his stolen base attempt, former Met Todd Hundley threw it away allowing Mora to go to third. That allowed him to score easily on Edgardo Alfonzo‘s RBI single.

The Mets did not enjoy the lead for very long. In the third, the Dodgers broke through against Bobby Jones. The trouble started with a Todd Hollandsworth lead-off walk. Hollandsworth stole second, but Jones almost got out of the inning after getting the next two Dodgers out.

Jones could not get Shawn Green out who hit an RBI single and advanced to second on a Mora error. Green would then score on an Eric Karros two run homer. That homer gave the Dodgers a 3-1 lead.

Dodgers starter Eric Gagne would only last four plus. After he allowed an Alfonzo double and Mike Piazza RBI single, he was lifted for Matt Herges. While Herges was relief in the fifth getting the Dodgers out of the jam, he was not that in the sixth.

After quick strikeouts of Kurt Abbott and Jones, Herges consecutive singles to Mora and Derek Bell. On the Bell infield single, Dave Hansen threw it away allowing Mora and Bell to go to second and third. That allowed both runners to score on the ensuing Alfonzo RBI single which gave the Mets a 4-3 lead.

At that point, Jones had pitched reasonably well. Over five innings, he had allowed just three runs on six hits and two walks. At 87 pitches, you understood why he was sent out there for the bottom of the sixth. Still, after former Met Hundley led off the inning with a double, he got the quick hook with Dennis Cook coming into the game to face the left-handed Hansen.

Davey Johnson countered to putting Kevin Elster into the game as a pinch hitter. As an aside, that’s a sentence which could have been written a decade ago back when Hundley, Johnson, and Elster were all Mets.

Elster singled putting runners at the corners. Geronimo Berroa then pinch hit for Herges, and he drove home Chad Kreuter, who pinch ran for an injured Hundley. Cook finally got a lefty in Hollandsworth, and he struck him out.

With the known right-handed batters coming up, Bobby Valentine brought in Pat Mahomes, who has been really overworked of late. Mahomes allowed an RBI single to Mark Grudzielanek before retiring Gary Sheffield to end the inning. With that, the Mets 4-3 lead had become a 5-4 deficit.

That’s where the score was in the ninth when the Dodgers brought in Jeff Shaw to close out the game. Mike Piazza would get the inning started with a lead-off single on the first pitch Shaw threw. With the slow-footed Piazza representing the tying run, Valentine sent in Jay Payton to pinch run.

After Robin Ventura walked on four pitches, Payton would score the tying run on a Todd Zeile RBI single. That also had the go-ahead run in scoring position. The Dodgers not wanting to lose the game brought in Terry Adams to relieve Shaw.

With the go-ahead run on second with no outs, Valentine made the curious decision of having Joe McEwing pinch hit for Benny Agbayani to bunt the runners over. Instead, McEwing would strike out. After Kurt Abbott walked, Jon Nunnally struck out.

That put the game on Mora’s shoulders. He had a tough seven pitch at-bat where he drew a walk forcing home the go-ahead run. That brought up John Franco‘s spot in the batting order. With Piazza already out of the game with Payton pinch running for him, Valentine sent up Todd Pratt. Pratt would deliver a grand slam to put the Mets up 10-5.

Armando Benitez entered the game in the ninth, and he quickly shut the door. With a victory in this long, long game, the Mets have put themselves in a position to have a winning road trip with one game remaining. That’s not too bad considering how poorly things went in San Diego to start this insane three city two time zone road trip.

Game Notes: Ordonez is expected to miss at least six weeks. Mora and Abbott are expected to split the shortstop duties in his absence. Today, Mora was in center, and Abbott was at short.

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 Cardinals

The one thing which has plagued Glendon Rusch this season has been a lack of run support. While the vast majority of his starts have him going deep into the game allowing few runs, the Mets offense has not given him runs to help those strong outings lead to wins. Today was different.

After hitting two homers yesterday, including the game winning grand slam, Todd Zeile hit a second inning homer off of Darryl Kile to give the Mets a 1-0 lead. That lead was short lived as the Cardinals got it right back in the bottom of the second. Mark McGwire led off the inning with a double, and he would come around to score on a Placido Polanco sacrifice fly.

The Mets responded immediately with Edgardo Alfonzo hitting a solo homer to give the Mets a 2-1 lead. The Mets would not trail again in this game.

After allowing a run in the second, Rusch made quick work of the Cardinals. While he uncharacteristically issued walks in the the ensuing two innings, he would get through unscathed. It would not be until the fifth when the Cardinals got to him again. In that inning, Mike Matheny and Fernando Vina hit a pair of doubles scoring a run.

With Todd Pratt hitting a homer in the third, that would pull the Cardinals to within 3-2. The Cardinals would not get any closer in the game.

After Rusch allowed the RBI double to Vina in the fifth, he would retire the final seven Cardinals batters he faced. His final line would be 7.0 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 ER, BB, and 7 K. He would also pick up his third win of the season.

The Mets 4-2 lead had grown to 5-2 when Zeile and Joe McEwing hit their own pair of doubles in the sixth. After John Franco pitched a scoreless eighth, the Mets added an insurance run in the ninth on a Jay Payton RBI single. That RBI single snapped a 2-for-30 streak for Payton, and it was his first RBI since May 10.

After Armando Benitez pitched a scoreless ninth in a non-save situation, the Mets completed a sweep of the first place Cardinals. Given how the Mets dealt with an injury to Rick Reed, Mike Piazza sitting a day game after a night game, and the travel from the west coast, this was without a doubt the Mets most impressive series of the season.

Game Notes: Mark Johnson was sent down to make room for Jim Mann. Mann was called up with the Mets needing an extra arm in the pen with Pat Mahomes going over two innings twice over the past week. With Reed missing at least one start, Paul Wilson put together another quality start in Triple-A. After Derek Bell led off yesterday, Nunnally led off today with Payton hitting second.

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.