John Franco

2000 Game Recap: Mets Beat Cubs And Rain

With Mike Hampton only pitching two innings against the Yankees on Sunday before the game was washed out, the Mets opted to bring back their ace on short rest. After Hampton allowed one run in the first inning on an Mark Grace RBI single, the rains came, and once again, Hampton’s day was done.

This would be the first of three rain delays. To put it in perspective, the actual game play was three hours and 40 minutes, but the rain delays were three hours and 23 minutes. All told, this was an over seven hour day at the ballpark.

While the skies had brought the rain, the Mets lineup had brought the thunder hitting four homers in the game. The first of which was a Robin Ventura homer off of Scott Downs to being the second inning. The Mets bats would then go silent until the fourth. At that point, they were down 2-1 with Augie Ojeda hitting a solo homer off of Pat Mahomes.

In the fourth, there were runners at the corners and one out when Benny Agbayani tied the score on a sacrifice fly. That lead would be very short lived. Even though he was not scheduled to pitch today, with the rain delays, the Mets opted to go with Glendon Rusch to start the fourth. Apparently, he was not quite warmed up enough.

Chad Meyers doubled off of him, and Ojeda walked. Both runners moved up on a Daniel Garibay sacrifice bunt. Myers scored off of a Eric Young Sr. sacrifice fly, and Ojeda scored off of a Joe Girardi RBI single. That gave the Cubs a 4-2 lead.

The second of the Mets four homers came in the fifth as Mike Piazza launched a two run homer tying the game at 4-4. The Mets would double their four runs with a big sixth inning.

The inning began with a Jay Payton double. There would be runners on first and second after Todd Pratt reached on a Grace error. Kurt Abbott, who was the goat yesterday, came up big hitting a go-ahead RBI double. Melvin Mora followed with an RBI double of his own. Piazza capped off that rally with an RBI single increasing the Mets lead to 8-4.

With the way this game was going, it was far from over.

After Agbayani homered in the seventh, the Cubs made a comback in the bottom half of the inning. After a Grace double off of Turk Wendell, there were runners on second and third with one out. Sammy Sosa then scored on a Glenallen Hill RBI single. Wendell was almost out of the inning before issuing a two out walk to Gary Matthews to load the bases.

Dennis Cook came on to relieve Wendell to move the switch hitting Ojeda to the right side. Cook struggled in the seventh as he has done much of the season allowing RBI singles to Ojeda and Willie Greene. After Cook walked Eric Young Sr. to re-load the bases, Bobby Valentine brought in John Franco, who retired Girardi to get the Mets out of the inning with a 9-8 lead.

That led grew to 10-8 when Agbayani hit his second homer of the game in the top of the ninth. That was more than enough of a cushion for Armando Benitez who mowed down the Cubs in the bottom of the ninth earning his 16th save of the season with Rusch earning the win in relief.

This was a very long game which was made even longer by the rain delays. Still, the Mets fought through the sloppiness which accompanies games like this. That makes the flight out of Chicago a little easier than it would have been otherwise.

Game Notes: One of the reasons Hampton left the game was he is dealing with a strained groin. Edgardo Alfonzo was given the day off with a stiff back. The Mets are rumored to be in on Sosa and Juan Gonzalez, but according to rumors, they are not willing to part with top prospects Alex Escobar or Grant Roberts. Bobby Jones went down to Triple-A Norfolk to work on things.

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 Throw One Away

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.

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.

Best Mets Of All-Time: No. 45 Tug McGraw

Even though John Franco had one of the better Mets careers, and he would wear the number 45, when it came down to all he had accomplished with the Mets, he mostly did it while wearing the number 31. Instead, the best player to wear the number 45 with the Mets was the man Franco honored when he switched to the number – Tug McGraw.

McGraw was a larger than life personality, and he was a beloved Mets closer who was a part of the 1969 World Series and 1973 pennant winning Mets teams. What is really interesting with McGraw is that his first big moment with the Mets came with him as a starter.

Before August 36, 1965, the Mets had never beaten Sandy Koufax. Really, Koufax embarrassed the Mets earlier in their history with a no-hitter and a 13-0 record. However, on this one day, the rookie McGraw would out-pitch the Hall of Famer to help the Mets beat Koufax for the first time. While McGraw would win this game, he just was not a starter.

After three years of being in and out of the rotation, McGraw served in the Marines Reserves, dealt with some arm injuries, and he would learn the screwball. That screwball is the first major thing which would change his career. The other was Gil Hodges moving McGraw into the bullpen in 1969.

McGraw was an important part of that Mets bullpen which went from laughingstock to World Series champions. In that 1969 season, McGraw was 9-3 with 12 saves, a 2.24 ERA, and 1.335 WHIP. Despite his great regular season, the Mets mostly rode with Ron Taylor in the postseason.

In fact, McGraw would only make one appearance that postseason. After Jerry Koosman couldn’t get out of the fifth in Game 2 of the NLCS, Ron Taylor pitched 1.1 innings to help get the Mets back in front. For the final three innings, it was McGraw. In those three innings, he shut down the Braves offense, and he would become the first Mets left-handed reliever to earn a postseason save.

Over the next few years McGraw would pitch well while splitting closing duties. While 1969 had served as his breakout season, 1971 would be where he showed he was ready to take his game to another level. During that 1971 season, McGraw was 11-4 with eight saves, a 1.70 ERA, and a 1.027.

In 1972, everything changed for the Mets. On the eve of the season, Hodges died from a heart attack putting Yogi Berra in charge as the Mets manager. Whereas McGraw was the first manager who believed in McGraw as a reliever, it was Berra who truly envisioned him as a closer. By and large, McGraw was the closer for that team, and he responded.

In 1972, McGraw set the Mets all-time record with 27 saves. That record would stand until 1984 when Jesse Orosco broke it. As it stands, it is still in the top 20 in Mets history. With McGraw repeating his 1.70 ERA, amassing the 27 saves, and having an 8-6 record, he would be an All-Star for the first only time as a member of the Mets. In that game, McGraw would pick up the win.

What is interesting for McGraw is he is mostly known for the 1973 season despite it being one of the worst of his Mets career, at least in his career as a Mets reliever. Through July 9th, McGraw had a 6.20 ERA with Berra trying to find ways to get McGraw back on track. One thing McGraw did on his own was to meet with a motivational speaker who kept telling him to believe in himself.

That set the stage for M.Donald Grant’s team pep talk. Grant’s message the front office still believed in a Mets team who was 11 games under .500 led McGraw to seemingly sarcastically start chanting, “Ya Gotta Believe!” much to the amusement of his teammates. For his part, Grant wasn’t so amused, and told McGraw he better start pitching better.

McGraw did, and he was a key component in the Mets turnaround. From July 11 until the end of the season, McGraw was 5-2 with 14 saves, a 2.21 ERA, and a 1.067 WHIP. In what is unheard of in today’s game, McGraw made 1o separate appearances of over three innings. That included one six inning and one 5.2 inning outing. He would also be on the mound when the Mets clinched the division:

With that, McGraw would get the chance to be an impactful reliever in the postseason. In that postseason, McGraw was as dominant as we have ever seen a Mets reliever in a postseason. Perhaps, it was the best postseason we have ever seen a Mets reliever have.

Between the NLCS and World Series, McGraw was 1-0 with two saves and a 1.93 ERA. That included his no allowing a run five NLCS innings and his earning a save in the Mets first ever winner-take-all game. That set him up to finally be able to pitch in the World Series.

McGraw would pitch in five of the seven games. While he would blow his first ever World Series save chance in Game 2, he would stay in the game and pitch six innings total as he and the Mets picked up the win in 12 innings. He would convert his next and last save chance with 2.2 scoreless innings in Game 5. Unfortunately, the Mets were not able to win that fourth and final game, and they would lose their first ever postseason series.

While McGraw was an emotional leader who gave birth to the franchise rallying cry of “Ya Gotta Believe!” he was not a Met for long. In 1974, he would struggle, and the Mets would put him in a variety of roles. After the season, the Mets traded him to the Phillies, and it was discovered he had shoulder issues. As those shoulder issues resolved, the Phillies had a great reliever who would be on the mound as they won their first World Series.

Among Mets relievers, McGraw has the third most wins and sixth most saves. While he is fifth in appearances, he is second in innings. Really, he was the first big time reliever in team history, and he is the best Mets player to ever wear the number 45.

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

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.

2000 Game Recap: Zeile Grand Slam Wins It

The Mets started this game making a statement, and that statement would be a distant memory in a crazy game with a ton of challenges. That includes but is far from limited to a rain delay of a little more than half an hour.

Newly inserted lead-off batter Derek Bell began the game with a lead-off single. He’d score on an Edgardo Alfonzo double. After Andy Benes walked Mike Piazza, Robin Ventura and Todd Zeile went back-to-back to give the Mets a commanding 5-0 first inning lead.

With Rick Reed on the mound, that should have been more than enough. Little did we know at the time, Reed was dealing with an oblique injury which eventually would force him from the game. As a result of the injury, Reed was not nearly as effective as we’ve seen him all season long.

That began in the bottom of the first with Reed issuing a lead-off walk to Fernando Vina. In that inning, which included a balk, he’d allow a Ray Lankford RBI double and a Craig Paquette RBI single to pull the Cardinals to within 5-2.

What was frustrating for the Mets is they had an opportunity to get those runs back and then some in the second. They loaded the bases with one out, but this time neither Ventura nor Zeile could knock in a run. The Mets would rue that missed chance when Lankford got to Reed again this time hitting a two run homer to pull the Cardinals within a run.

Reed got through that third inning, but he would be pulled from the game. At the moment, it is expected the Mets will put him on the DL, which is a move which will again test the Mets non-existent pitching depth.

Piazza got one of the runs back with a solo homer in the fourth, but shortly, the Mets would fall behind the Cardinals.

With Pat Mahomes going 2.1 innings just three days prior, and there was also the consideration with Reed going down, he may need to enter the rotation. Taking that into account, Bobby Valentine brought in Rich Rodriguez. Rodriguez was as bad as he’s been all year by immediately loading the bases forcing Valentine’s hands.

Mahomes came into the bases loaded no outs situation, and he allowed the first run to score with a wild pitch. Mahomes then walked Mark McGwire to re-load the bases. It was Lankford again getting to the Mets by hitting a sacrifice fly giving the Cardinals a 7-6 lead.

The topsy-turvy start to the game calmed down for a bit until the sixth inning. Mahomes walked Edgar Renteria to lead-off the inning. After Renteria stole a base, he came home to score on a McGwire RBI single expanding the Cardinals lead to 8-6. With Mahomes struggling after 2.1 solid innings of relief, Valentine went to Dennis Cook.

Cook had allowed at least one run in five out of his last seven outings. Today, he stepped up, and he first got the Mets out the jam in the sixth, and then he pitched a scoreless seventh. Getting out of that jam allowed the Mets to stay in the game, a game they once led 5-0.

In the eighth, the Mets would get their chance against Heathcliff Slocumb. Between an error by Paquette allowing Alfonzo to reach safely, Slocumb had walked Jon Nunnally and Piazza to load the bases. After Mark Johnson (who entered on a double switch with Cook) struck out, the Mets had the same situation they had in the second – bases loaded with one out. This time Zeile would deliver hitting a grand slam.

With that grand slam, the Mets went from a very frustrating loss to a 10-8 lead. The Mets would tack on two runs in the ninth to increase their lead to 12-8. After John Franco pitched a scoreless ninth, it was a 12-8 victory. Overall, this was an impressive win albeit a win which potentially came with the loss of Reed.

Game Notes: This was Bell’s first game as the Mets lead-off hitter with McEwing batting second. While he did not have a run or an RBI, Benny Agbayani had a three hit game. The other Met with three hits today was Alfonzo.

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.