Believe it or not, the Mets actually led this game 4-3 heading into the top of the sixth. Somehow from there, the Tampa Bay Devil Rays would completely blow out a Mets team who just could not get out of their own way in what would become an embarrassing loss.
Through the first five innings, Mike Piazza had carried the Mets offense and mostly had shown no ill effects of his head injury.
In the second, Piazza got on in front of a Jay Payton two run homer. In the third, Piazza hit an RBI double scoring Kurt Abbott. In the fifth, he gave the Mets a 4-3 lead hitting a sacrifice fly scoring Joe McEwing. If not for Piazza, it’s likely Esteban Yan has a lead heading into the latter innings. Yan would get it anyway as Bobby Jones fell apart.
Through the first five innings, we started to see what is a pattern emerging for Jones in 2000. He is able to put up zeros, but he is just unable to prevent that one big inning. For a moment, that seemed like it was going to be the second inning.
In that inning, Jones had allowed back-to-back homers to Felix Martinez and Yan. It’s one thing to allow back-to-back homers, it is a whole other thing to allow that to the eighth and ninth place hitters. It gets even worse when you consider Yan is an American League pitcher.
We also saw another pattern emerge with Jones. He doesn’t seem like he is going to be good for anything more than five innings. That became evident with Jones melting down in the sixth inning. Really, the entire Mets team melted down in that inning and the rest of the game.
The first two batters reached against Jones, and after a Steve Cox groundout, John Flaherty tied the game with an RBI single. After Jones walked Miguel Cairo to load the bases, Bobby Valentine brought in Pat Mahomes to help the Mets get out of the jam.
Mahomes walked Felix Martinez to force in a run. Jose Guillen pinch hit for Yan, and he hit an RBI ground out. The big blow of the inning would come when Gerald Williams hit a two RBI double. When he hit that double, the Devil Rays had scored five runs in the inning giving them an 8-4 lead.
Looking at it, you’re not sure what is more incredulous – the fact the Devil Rays put up a five spot in the sixth or the fact they did it again in the eighth.
Between Rich Rodriguez hitting batters, Martinez’s bat came flying towards Robin Ventura. Instead of a routine ground out, the distracted Ventura threw the ball away. That set the stage for five unearned runs in the inning.
The first came off of a Williams sacrifice fly. The next was a Russ Johnson RBI single. Finally, the nightmare ended with a Bubba Trammell three run homer. Suddenly, a game the Mets once led 4-3 was a massive 13-4 deficit. This is as bad an unraveling a team can have.
Yes, you can pinpoint Jones, but honestly, he gave you what you can reasonably expect from him. Valentine needs to be quicker with the hook with Jones. Mostly, Steve Phillips should not have entered the season with just three starters which the team could have reasonably relied upon. To a certain extent, he’s been bailed out by Glendon Rusch‘s terrific work, but the lack of a true fifth starter or anything resembling depth behind that is completely inexcusable.
The Devil Rays weren’t done scoring in this game, and the Mets added some ninth inning window dressing. In the end, it was an ugly 15-5 loss. Aside from Piazza, only Jay Payton and Joe McEwing, each of whom had two hits, did not look good in this game. When this happens, it is really just best to turn the page and look to the next game and series.
Game Notes: In 1999, the Mets gave up a total of 20 unearned runs behind the greatest defensive infield in Major League history. Today, alone, the Mets gave up five which is a quarter of all they gave up last year.
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.
The Mets are 9-1, and they are now off to the best start in franchise history. However, right now, when it comes to the Mets, this isn’t even the biggest news of the season:
Saturday, April 7th at Washington – Steven Matz
Sunday, April 8th at Washington – Matt Harvey
Monday, April 9th at Miami – Noah Syndergaard
Tuesday, April 10th at Miami – Jacob deGrom
Wednesday, April 11th at Miami – Zack Wheeler
Sometime after 7:10 P.M., after the bottom of the first has ended, the dream will finally be realized. The Five Aces will have finally taken one turn through the rotation. What’s funny about it is the dream was thought to be dead.
In 2015, before Syndergaard and Matz were called up to the majors, Wheeler needed Tommy John surgery. As a result, this meant the dream, which was still in its infancy, would have to wait a year.
Heading into 2016, the Mets re-signed Bartolo Colon to help allow Wheeler to take his time in his rehab. He would have a number of setbacks, and he would never pitch in 2016. That year also saw deGrom, Harvey, and Matz befall season ending injuries themselves.
In 2017, the Mets were once again poised to have them all in the same rotation. However, Matz would need to begin the season on the disabled list. Syndergaard didn’t have an MRI and tore his lat. Harvey and Wheeler would find their way onto the disabled list with stress reactions after they had probably been rushed into the rotation before they were ready.
The progress in 2017 was they at least all made a start in the same season. That was something Generation K never did. In 1995, we saw Jason Isringhausen and Bill Pulsipher in the same rotation. Like with Wheeler, it was discovered Pulsipher needed Tommy John during the ensuing Spring Training. As a result, this meant it was just Isringhausen and Paul Wilson in the rotation.
In 1997, Isringhausen was the only one to pitch for the Mets with Wilson pitching in the minors with shoulder problems and Pulsipher experiencing depression and complications from Tommy John. Pulsipher would be the only one to pitch for the Mets in 1998 with Isringhausen hurt and Wilson hurt and in the minors.
In 1998, Pulipsher was the first to go. He was traded to the Brewers for Mike Kinkade. In 1999, it was Isringhausen’s turn to go as the Mets thought it better to use him to obtain Billy Taylor rather than use him in the bullpen.
Pulsipher came back to the organization in 2000, and he lost the Spring Training competition for the fifth starter spot to Glendon Rusch. Both he and Wilson would get traded that season as the Mets sought reinforcements in Lenny Harris, Bubba Trammell, and Rick White to help them win a World Series.
The odd thing about seeing Generation K all being traded away for supporting pieces was they were supposed to be the leading drive towards a World Series. Overall, they’d never appear in the same rotation, and they would pitch for the Mets in the postseason.
Seeing Generation K’s struggles makes what is happening tonight all the more remarkable. Not only are we finally seeing these five pitchers in the same rotation, but we have already seen them have the success we once expected from Generation K. In fact, they’ve been much more successful.
In many ways, seeing Wheeler start tonight is going to slay many demons for the entire Mets organization.
From the start the Mets have had and the seemingly magic tough Mickey Callaway has had, there is a lot more in store for the Mets. That said, short of David Wright taking the field again, it is going to be hard to envision a more powerful moment that will happen this (regular) season.