Dennis Cook

2000 Game Recap: Mets Offense Picks Up Reed And Flailing Bullpen

For a moment, it had seemed Rick Reed turned the corner, had been past the injuries, and is now the pitcher he was early on in the season. That didn’t seem the case today as the Pirates roughed him up. Over the three innings he lasted, he allowed homers to John Vander Wal and Kevin Young.

In total, he allowed four runs in three innings, and he slogged through with 75 pitches. With the pitch count an ineffectiveness, he was lifted for a pinch hitter in the bottom of the third.

While Jason Tyner didn’t get a hit, Melvin Mora would get a rally started with a bunt single. Later that inning, Derek Bell and Edgardo Alfonzo would hit a pair of RBI doubles. Combined with Robin Ventura‘s solo homer in the second, the Mets pulled themselves to within 4-3. It was going to be one of those games.

Pat Mahomes came in for Reed, and he was just okay. Over his three innings, he allowed two runs, which came on a Bruce Aven two RBI double in the fifth. After Ventura got one of those runs back in the sixth with his second solo homer of the game, Dennis Cook came in and was as bad as he’s been all season.

Cook allowed a leadoff homer to Brian Giles to start the seventh. Aven would double off of Cook, and later in the inning, Abraham Nunez would hit a two out RBI single giving the Pirates an 8-4 lead. With the way the Mets bullpen has been pitching, that lead seemed safe enough even for the Pirates.

That was until the bottom of the seventh when Mike Piazza jolted the Mets. After a Bell lead-off single, Alfonzo drew a walk. Both would score on a Piazza RBI double. Nunez would give back the run he knocked in when his error allowed Jay Payton to reach and Piazza to score.

The Mets were now withing 8-7, and Bobby Valentine wasn’t taking any chances with his leaky bullpen anymore. With the game on the line, he only trusted John Franco and Armando Benitez the rest of the way. The two would combine to shut the Pirates out over the final two innings and allow the Mets to take the lead.

After Bell drew a one out walk, he was knocked home on a game tying Alfonzo double. After Piazza struck out, Ventura was intentionally walked. Alfonzo and Ventura would come home to score on a go-ahead Todd Zeile RBI double.

When Benitez set the Pirates down in order in the ninth, the Mets turned what could have been a very troublesome game into a good come from behind win. As we see, their bullpen still needs a lot of help, but you will take wins like these whenever they come along.

Game Notes: It may be public posturing, but Steve Phillips has indicated he’s comfortable going forward with Melvin Mora and Kurt Abbott at SS the rest of the way. Before Reed’s short start here, the Mets had quality starts in eight of the last nine games. Piazza has a 13 game hitting streak.

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 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.

2000 Game Recap: Yankees Expose Mets Weakness

Well, after the Mets beat up on the Yankees, the Yankees returned the favor tonight by getting to the weak point of the Mets – the back-end of their pitching staff. It was almost very clear from the beginning Bobby Jones didn’t have it, and the Yankees pounced.

The Yankees were up 2-0 quickly on a pair of RBI doubles from Bernie Williams and Tino Martinez in the first. However, the Yankees would not be up for long as Jay Payton homered in the second, and Robin Ventura hit a two run homer in the third off of Andy Pettitte to give the Mets a 3-2 lead.

Unfortunately, Jones had not quite settled in. Paul O’Neill homered to tie the game at 3-3. As much as Jones was struggling, Pettitte was as well. He couldn’t keep this game tied as he allowed the Mets to take the lead again in the fifth.

Todd Zeile doubled home Piazza. After Robin Ventura reached on a Martinez error, it was Payton again with an RBI single increasing the Mets lead to 5-3. Those would be the last runs the Mets scored while the Yankees offense just took off from that point.

Things appeared safe enough in the fifth. There was a runner on first with two outs. That’s when the Yankees onslaught began. First, O’Neill hit an RBI double, and Williams followed with an RBI single. When Martinez singled, Bobby Valentine went to his bullpen to bring in Pat Mahomes. While Mahomes has been good all year, he wasn’t today allowing a three run homer to Jorge Posada.

In the sixth, Mahomes allowed a solo homer to Derek Jeter. At that point, it was 9-5 Yankees. Realistically speaking, the game was still within reach. That would not be the case for long as Dennis Cook imploded in the seventh allowing four runs.

While the Mets offense had their way with Pettitte, they were not up to the task to do the same to the Yankees bullpen. After Pettitte pitched seven, Jeff Nelson and Mariano Rivera each pitched a scoreless inning to secure the Yankees 13-5 victory.

While yesterday might’ve been a glimpse at how the top end talent on the Mets may very well be better than the Yankees, it is clear the Mets pitching depth is an issue. Time and again, Jones does not have it, and the bullpen has been shaky in those middle innings. That becomes an ever increasing issue when you have a pitcher in Jones who is just not guaranteed for anything more than 4+ on any given night.

Game Notes: Payton is red hot hitting four homers over his last eight games. He is hitting .448 over that stretch. Since coming off the DL, this was the first time Jones was unable to last at least five innings in a start.

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: 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.

2000 Game Recap: Kurt Abbott Ignites Mets Offense

For a while this looked like it was going to be a frustrating loss. After Edgardo Alfonzo and Mike Piazza hit back-to-back homers off of Scott Erickson in the first, Rick Reed, who returned to the mound after his oblique injury, struggled, and the Mets would fall behind 3-2 entering the bottom of the sixth.

Things could have been worse for the Mets. In the fourth, the Orioles had tied the score 2-2 on a Cal Ripken Jr. sacrifice fly with Ripken reaching safely on a Tyner error. Tyner made up for the error two batters later when Charles Johnson fouled out to left. Tyner made a strong throw home, and Piazza did a good job of getting the tag down to get the Mets out of the inning tied albeit not for long.

That’s when Kurt Abbott came off the bench, and he ignited the Mets offense with a lead-off triple, and he would score the tying run on a Jason Tyner sacrifice fly. After Derek Bell singled, he would be driven home by Alfonzo, who hit the Mets second triple of the inning.

Piazza and Robin Ventura were walked to load the bases, and Alberto Reyes came on to relieve Erickson. He wasn’t much of a relief allowing an RBI single to Todd Zeile and a sacrifice fly to Jay Payton. In that four run inning, the Mets grabbed a 6-3 lead, and the bats seemed rejuvenated as they would begin to route the Orioles.

In the seventh, it was again Abbott getting the Mets started; this time it was a lead-off double. After walks to Alfonzo and Piazza to load the bases, B.J. Ryan came into the game and walked Ventura to force home a run. Zeile hit a two RBI single, and Payton then singled to re-load the bases.

That lead the Orioles to go to Jose Mercedes, who was greeted with a Benny Agbayani two RBI single to push the Mets lead to 11-3. That would be the final score as the Mets bullpen did their job. The combination of Pat Mahomes, who picked up the win, Dennis Cook, and Rich Rodriguez (2.0 IP) combined to pitch four scoreless to secure the victory for the Mets.

All-in-all, this was a good win, and it is one where you feel good about the Mets. Even without his best stuff and some rust, Reed kept the Mets in the game. The combination of Alfonzo-Piazza-Ventura-Zeile had a hand in all of the rallies, and the team got contributions throughout their roster.

Game Notes: Yesterday’s game against the Orioles was rained out and will be played tomorrow. Bell is mired in a 4-for-49 (.082) slump. With Tyner up and playing outfield, the plan for the time being is to have Melvin Mora as the everyday SS.

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: 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: 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: Super Joe McEwing Vanquishes The Big Unit

At this point, the Diamondbacks must be wondering what they need to do to beat the Mets at Shea Stadium. Last year, they lost both games in the NLDS played at Shea. Yesterday, they couldn’t complete the comeback. Today, they couldn’t hold onto the lead.

Mostly, Randy Johnson has to wonder how does he get Joe McEwing out?

After the Diamondbacks staked Johnson with a first inning lead with a run off of Rick Reed, McEwing led off the bottom of the first with a double. He came home to score as Derek Bell and Edgardo Alfonzo followed his double with one of their own to give the Mets a 2-1 lead.

The Diamondbacks led off the third with three straight singles to tie the score. They then took a 3-2 lead when Jay Bell moved to third on an Erubiel Durazo fly ball and scored on a Steve Finley RBI groundout. Again, Johnson was given a one run lead, and again, he surrendered it in the bottom of the inning. This time, it was a Mike Piazza homer.

Both pitchers seemed to finally settle in after that with them both putting up a string of zeros. That was until Travis Lee hit a two run homer off of Reed in the top of the sixth.

For Reed, today, it was a mixed bag. On the one hand, this was the eighth time in nine starts, he had pitched at least seven innings. On the other, this is the fourth time over his last five starts he has allowed 4+ runs. Regardless of how you look at it, Reed at least kept his team in the game, and he gave them a chance to win.

In the seventh, the Mets would once again tie the score, and once again, it was McEwing torturing Johnson. With one out in the seventh, McEwing would hit a solo homer to pull the Mets within one.

In this game, McEwing was 3-for-4 with two doubles, a homer, three runs, a walk, and an RBI. He would also have a tough 12 pitch at-bat in the fifth before hitting his second double of the game. That is a great game no matter who is on the mound. When it is Johnson starting, it’s phenomenal.

Speaking of players who torture Johnson, Alfonzo was back at it. As we remember, he homered off Johnson in the NLDS. Today, he hit the first inning RBI double, and like McEwing, he would homer off of Johnson in the seventh. That would tie the score at five, and it would chase Johnson from the game.

Not enough can be said about the Mets offensive outburst against Johnson. The future Hall of Fame pitcher entered the game with a 0.97 ERA, and he had allowed just eight runs all season long. It took the Mets fewer than seven innings to almost double that total.

Dennis Cook would come in for Reed, and he would continue his poor start to the season. This time it was his allowing a homer to the left-handed hitting Steve Finley. With that homer, Cook’s season ERA is up to 6.16. Between his and Rich Rodriguez‘s struggles, the Mets simply do not have a reliable LOOGY in that bullpen right now.

Again, the Diamondbacks lead was very short-lived. Despite his sore thigh, Robin Ventura came into the game to pinch hit for Kurt Abbott with two outs in the eighth. He would tie the game with a pinch hit solo homer.

After Turk Wendell did his job retiring the side in order in the top of the ninth, it was time for some ninth inning heroics, and again it was McEwing at the forefront.

McEwing drew a walk against Byung-Hyun Kim, and he would steal second. That put him in position to score on the ensuing Bell game winning walk-off RBI single.

Simply put, this was a great win. The Mets faced a future Hall of Fame pitcher, and they put up the runs they needed. They took advantage of every opportunity. They got a huge performance from a utility player who began the year in the minors, and they had an injured player hit a game tying homer. This is exactly what very good teams do.

Game Notes: This was just Ventura’s second pinch hit homer of his career. It was also the second pinch hit homer the Mets had this year with Agbayani hitting one in Tokyo. Both Pat Mahomes and John Franco are dealing with sore ankles.

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 Nearly Blow Eight Run Lead

The rain caused this game to be delayed three-and-a-half hours, and for a while it seemed like the Mets had completely washed out the Arizona Diamondbacks. With a five run fourth, this game had seemed all but over. It wasn’t.

In that fourth, the Mets built upon a 1-0 lead from a Derek Bell RBI single the previous inning. In the fourth, starting with Benny Agbayani, the Mets hit four straight singles with Mike Hampton delivering a two RBI single. A Joe McEwing grounder ate up Jay Bell driving home another run. The final run of the inning came on an Edgardo Alfonzo sacrifice fly.

When Alfonzo homered in the seventh, the Mets had an 8-0 lead. This should have been as easy as it gets.

For a while it was, Hampton continued his stretch of terrific pitching shutting out the Diamondbacks over six innings. After Dennis Cook pitched a scoreless seventh, Bobby Valentine began pulling his regulars. Mark Johnson replaced Todd Zeile at first. Todd Pratt took over for Piazza behind the plate. Jon Nunnally came in for Bell. Kurt Abbott came in for Alfonzo.

At the time, it seemed like the smart move. There was a rain delay, and this presented an opportunity to get the regulars some rest. Little did we know, but the game would soon get away from the Mets.

It began with Pat Mahomes injuring his ankle. In the eighth, he’d walk Luis Gonzalez before surrendering a two run homer to Greg Colbrunn. At that point, it was still just 8-2, and the game was heading into the ninth. That was the type of lead you expect even Rich Rodriguez to hold. That proved to almost be wrong.

Former Met Bernard Gilkey singled to start the inning, and he scored on a Travis Lee double. After a Dan Klassen walk, Hanley Frias grounded into a double play. Any hopes that was going to be the end of the jam ended with a Tony Womack RBI single.

With the Diamondbacks now within 8-4, and Damian Miller singling, Valentine went to John Franco. Franco was not immediately relief allowing three straight singles allowing three more runs to score. Suddenly, it was 8-7, and the Diamondbacks had the tying run at third.

Valentine went deeper into his bullpen he probably never thought he would have in this game, and he went to Armando Benitez. When Benitez struck out Erubiel Durazo, he earned the save in a game the Mets led 8-0 as the eighth inning began.

Game Notes: This is the first time the Mets have won three in a row since April 25. Robin Ventura was held out of the lineup with a sore hamstring, but he was brought into the game for defense on the final out.

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: Rickey Gone And Mets Still Lose

The Mets finally got rid of Rickey Henderson. The Mets finally had enough of his lack of hustle and his attitude. According to Bobby Valentine, it wasn’t just him, but the players as well. Combine that with his threatening a reporter, and the Mets finally got rid of the future Hall of Famer. Given how he has been purported to be the issue with the team, you’d think they’d right the ship immediately.

They didn’t.

The Mets are really running out of excuses as to why they are playing as terribly as they are. A team who was once six games over .500 is now at .500, and they have lost four out of the five games they have played against the Marlins. This is the same Marlins team who lost 98 games last year and 108 the previous season.

The Mets had a 2-0 first inning lead in this game. Derek Bell hit a one out homer, and then later in the inning, Todd Zeile hit an RBI single. At that time, the Mets had runners in the corner with one out, but the rally ended there when Benny Agbayani hit into an inning ending double play.

As an aside, Agbayani is one of the players who should benefit from Henderson’s release. Agbayani went from coming THIS close to beginning the year in the minors to being on the cusp of an everyday role. Others who may benefit include Joe McEwing, who made his Mets debut starting in center before moving around the field.

That Mets lead grew to 3-0 in the third. Bell hit a lead-off single, and he’d steal second. Paul Bako‘s throw was wild allowing Bell to go to third on the play. He would score an unearned run on Robin Ventura‘s RBI ground out.

Unfortunately, this 3-0 was not enough for Pat Mahomes to protect. With the injury to Bobby Jones, and the complete ineffectiveness of Bill Pulsipher, Mahomes was again thrust into a starting role. For the first three innings, he kept the Marlins off the board. Starting in the fourth, they’d begin to hit him hard.

Preston Wilson, who is starting to wear out the Mets, led off the inning with a double. He’d then score on a Kevin Millar two run homer. Mahomes would get that run back with an RBI double off opposing pitcher Vladimir Nunez in the bottom of the inning to extend the Mets lead to 4-1. He’d then pitch a scoreless fifth, thanks in part, to an inning ending double play after Luis Castillo reached on an error.

In the sixth, the trouble started for Mahomes the way it usually does for any pitcher – the lead-off walk. Cliff Floyd walked to start the inning, and he stole second. That allowed him to score easily on Wilson’s second double of the game. Turk Wendell would relieve Mahomes, but he would allow the inherited runner to score making this a tied 4-4 game.

When Zeile homered off of Ron Mahay to lead off the bottom of the sixth, that’s where the Mets should have put this game away. That gave the Mets a 5-4 lead late in the game. That meant the Mets bullpen, which is supposedly superior to the Marlins’, would be able to close this one out. They didn’t.

Again, it was Wilson who killed the Mets. Dennis Cook started the seventh, and he was didn’t have control. Castillo had reached on a lead-off single. He’d then plunk Floyd with one out. That put two on in front of Wilson who hit a three run homer to give the Marlins a 7-5 lead.

Not wanting to lose this game, Valentine went to Armando Benitez. Benitez got the last five outs of the game which gave the Mets a chance. They would have their chances, but they failed to capitalize.

In the eighth, Todd Pratt, who started this day game after the night game, hit a two out single. Sensing his chance to get the win, Valentine sent Mike Piazza up as a pinch hitter for Kurt Abbott against Braden Looper. Instead of Piazza hitting the game tying blast, he struck out. Then, Valentine pinch hit Jon Nunnally for Jay Payton. Despite Looper not being good against left-handed batters, Nunnally struck out to end the inning.

It should be noted at that point, Valentine had emptied out his bench completely. Actually, there was one bat left, but that bat was Rey Ordonez, who is injured and unavailable. That meant Valentine was going to have to use a pitcher in the ninth as a pinch hitter. It is really difficult to defend that complete lack of foresight and decision making.

You could say it cost the Mets.

McEwing led off the ninth with a double against Antonio Alfonseca, and he’d score on an Edgardo Alfonzo RBI single. Now, instead of having Piazza to bat here or even Nunnally, the Mets had Mike Hampton. For a second, Valentine looked like a genius when Hampton got a hold of one, and he appeared to hit a game winning two run homer. Instead, it went foul, and Hampton would wind up striking out in the at-bat.

With two outs, Zeile kept the rally alive with a single pushing Alfonzo into scoring position. That’s where Alfonzo would stay as Matt Franco grounded out meekly to Alfonseca to end the game.

With the loss, the Mets are at .500, and they look like a team completely lost. They are getting beat up by the Marlins, and they are trying to use interchangeable parts in their outfield and rotation. For now, the only thing they can hope for is Hampton to once again play the role of stopper and get the Mets back on track tomorrow.

Game Notes: McEwing was up because Melvin Mora was placed on the DL. He had busted up his index finger and needed stitches on a bunt attempt on Friday. This will put the shortstop duties squarely on Abbott until Ordonez feels healthy enough to play again.

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.t