This is a game the Mets are going to want to get back. After having a 3-1 lead through four-and-a-half innings, they blew that lead, and then they effectively game this game away to the Cubs.
Through the first four, it was 1-1 with both Rick Reed and Kevin Tapani dealing. With respect to Reed it was a sight for sore eyes. Early in the season, Reed was pitching like the team’s ace. However, he has been nicked up a bit lately, and he has struggled with a 7.00 ERA over his last five starts.
After Sammy Sosa and Mark Grace got to him with back-to-back doubles in the first, he retired 11 of the next 13 Cubs with no one reaching scoring position. While Reed was shutting down the Cubs, the Mets were working on getting him a lead.
The Mets tied the game in the second. With runners on second and third after a Robin Ventura walk and Todd Zeile double, Jason Tyner hit a sacrifice fly to tie the game. The rally ended there with Reed striking out to end the inning.
Reed failed to deliver again in the fourth. After Tapani hit Tyner, the bases were loaded with two outs. The Mets didn’t push home a run as Reed struck out. That’s National League baseball for you.
In the fifth, Reed wasn’t around for Tapani to get out of the inning. The rally started with Jay Payton, who was installed as the lead-off hitter during his hot stretch, and he moved to second on a Derek Bell single. After Edgardo Alfonzo and Mike Piazza failed to deliver, Robin Ventura hit a two run double giving the Mets a 3-1 lead.
The Cubs got one of those runs back in the bottom half of the inning. Jeff Huson led off the inning with a single, and Tapani sacrificed him over to third. Huson then moved up to third when Reed uncorked a wild pitch. That allowed him to score on a Eric Young Sr. sacrifice fly.
Reed would nearly escape the seventh with a 3-2 lead before handing it off to the Mets bullpen. After two quick outs, Young singled and stole second. Reed just couldn’t get that last out as Brant Brown hit an RBI single tying the game. After Turk Wendell relieved Reed to get out of the inning, Reed had a no decision after 6.2 strong innings.
Reed assuredly wanted a better result, but this was a step in the right direction for him. More often times than not, if he pitches this way, the Mets are going to win the game. Today was just not his or the Mets day.
One of the reasons why was the Mets offense just did not get anything going after the fifth. Tapani pitched two scoreless before handing the ball to the Cubs bullpen. Felix Heredia and Rick Aguilera got the job done keeping the Mets off the board over the final two innings.
The same could not be said for the Mets bullpen. John Franco relieved Wendell to start the eighth, and in typical Franco fashion, he got into trouble. With runners on first and second and one out, Glenallen Hill hit a ball at Zeile. Zeile fired it to Kurt Abbott to get the first out, but Abbott’s return throw missed its target. Franco ran past the ball allowing Damon Buford to score the go-ahead run.
It’s easy to kill Abbott here and say the Mets would’ve won the game had that been Rey Ordonez instead of him. However, it needs to be pointed out Joe Girardi took him out with the slide at second, and Franco never quite read or adapted to the throw which was off the mark but not all that wild.
Whoever you want to blame here, the result is the same. The Mets gave away a game they should have won. They were shut down by the Cubs bullpen they should have been able to at least gotten started against. When you chalk it all up, it was just a bad loss. The key is to not let this type of loss spiral.
Game Notes: The finale of the Yankee Stadium portion of the Subway Series was rained out. There is some discussion about the make-up being a doubleheader split between Shea and Yankee Stadium. Piazza tweaked his ankle during the game but said it should not keep him out of the lineup. The Mets are considering skipping Bobby Jones‘ next turn through the rotation, but Paul Wilson is not under consideration as he’s been limited to 85 pitches per 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.