Kevin Elster

2000 Game Recap: Mets Lose Game And Potentially Piazza

If you want to look for positives from this game, they were there. While he had departed the game on the short side of the ledger, Mike Hampton continued his stretch of good pitching allowing three runs (two earned) over seven innings. The Mets also fought to get back into this game.

Heading into the eighth inning, the Mets could get nothing done against Kevin Brown. Brown was his typical dominant self, and if not for an Edgardo Alfonzo homer in the first, the Mets would not have scored a run. In fact, Alfonzo, Robin Ventura, and Hampton were the only to get a hit off of Brown over his six innings.

Entering the eighth, the Mets were down 3-1, which meant they were in the game. Soon, it would be tied. Kurt Abbott led off the inning with a homer off of Alan Mills. After Matt Franco drew a pinch hit walk, and Melvin Mora singled, the Dodgers brought in Matt Herges.

Alfonzo ripped a ball to deep right off of Herges scoring Jon Nunnally, who had pinch ran for Franco. With Mora holding to see if Shawn Green made the play, he could only get to third. That was the part of the Mets bad luck in the inning. Up next was Todd Pratt.

Pratt was in the game because in the sixth, Gary Sheffield‘s typical violent follow-through on his swing hit Mike Piazza in the head. The catcher had blood gushing, and he was removed from the game with his needing to get cleaned up and his likely suffering a concussion.

With Piazza suffering that concussion and coming out of the game, it meant Pratt was up in the eighth. Pratt ripped a ball to short which looked liked it short hopped Kevin Elster. Instead, it was ruled a catch. With Elster having been ruled to catch it, he easily got Mora who had already left third base. That ended an inning where the Mets could’ve taken the lead.

The Mets got their chance again in the ninth. After Ventura and Todd Zeile led off the inning with back-to-back singles, Benny Agbayani, Abbott, and Jay Payton failed to drive them home. Those two missed chances would cost the Mets dearly.

In the ninth, Turk Wendell just didn’t have it. He hung a few to Eric Karros, who couldn’t take advantage. Instead, Karros struck out. Wendell wouldn’t have the same luck with Elster who hit a walk-off homer giving the Dodgers the 4-3 win.

When it comes to this game, the much larger concern is the loss of Piazza than it is the loss of the game. Piazza has once again proved he is not just the best catcher in the game, but really one of the absolute best in the game. We’ve see the Mets can trust Pratt to help them get by, but they are going to need Piazza to go where they want to go this year.

Game Notes: The Mets ended this three city, two time zone road tripe with a 5-4 record. That’s much better than their first west coast trip where they went 5-7 in the trip that had stops in Colorado, San Francisco, Florida, and Pittsburgh.

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: Franco Infield Single Walks Off 1-0 Victory

The Mets have been winning lately on the strength of their offense by battering opposing teams. During this seven game winning streak, they have been averaging eight runs per game, and they have put up 10+ runs in three separate games. Today, we found out they could win with their pitching and defense.

This was supposed to be Rick Reed‘s start, but he was held out after he took a ball off the palm of his non-pitching hand. In his place was Pat Mahomes, who for the second time this season has stepped up with a very good start. Much like his last emergency start against the Dodgers, he went into the sixth. The difference is in this 5.2 inning start, he allowed no runs.

Unfortunately for Mahomes, he was once again not rewarded with a win. This time, it was because the Mets offense which had recently exploded couldn’t get out of their own way.

In the first, the Mets loaded the bases against Darren Dreifort, but they wouldn’t push a run across as Mike Piazza hit into an inning ending double play. In the third, Piazza came up with runners on second and third with two out, but he would fly out to end the inning. Obviously, this is just presented as a representation of what happened. With how great Piazza has been this month, there is absolutely no need to finger point in his direction.

The problems were deeper than Piazza. There were some base running gaffes too. After Todd Zeile hit a one out double in the fourth, he made the mistake of trying to go to third on a grounder to short. The former Met Kevin Elster made the heads up play getting Zeile out at third effectively killing that rally.

For a moment, it seemed like the inability to come through in the clutch would hinder a well pitched game by first Mahomes. Dennis Cook may have gotten out of the sixth, but he immediately got into trouble issuing a lead-off walk to Eric Karros.

After a Todd Hundley single, Turk Wendell came into the game, and he masterfully navigated his way out of the jam. First, Adrian Beltre laid down a sacrifice moving the runners up to second and third. Wendell then struck out Elster to put the Mets one out away from getting out of it. After walking the pinch hitting Dave Hansen, he got Devon White to keep the game scoreless.

After that, neither the Mets nor the Dodgers threatened in the eighth. Wendell had pitched a clean eighth, and Armando Benitez pitched a scoreless ninth to give the Mets a chance to get the walk-off win.

Things got started really well for the Mets when Robin Ventura hit a lead-off double against Terry Adams. With that being the winning run, Bobby Valentine pinch ran Melvin Mora to get the much faster runner out there. For a second, that appeared to be a disastrous move.

After Jon Nunnally walked, Jay Payton again hit a groundball to short. Like he had done earlier when he picked off Zeile, Elster threw over to Beltre. Maybe it was the speed of Mora, or maybe it was an umpiring crew who wanted to get home, but Mora was ruled safe loading the bases.

Davey Johnson was irate, and he got tossed from the game. For his part, Beltre was unsure as to whether he had his foot on the bag on the force play, but he was positive he got the tag down. The umpires felt differently.

Elster would not be denied going home on a Rey Ordonez grounder. That brought up Matt Franco. He hit a comebacker which had the potential to turn into an inning ending 1-2-3 double play. Instead, the ball tipped off of Adams’ glove giving the Mets a walk-off 1-0 victory.

The Mets were far from perfect in this game. Unlike the other games against lesser competition, they were stymied time and again, and the Dodgers made them pay for their mistakes. Still, the combination of the Mets terrific bullpen, and a team with near unmatched resolve pulled this game out to continue their winning streak to eight straight games.

Game Notes: This was a makeup game of the April 6th game which was snowed out. Benitez was credited for the win, his first of the 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: Franco Blows Mahomes Gem

When you look at this game on paper, you think this is one where you wouldn’t take much issue if the Mets lost. Pat Mahomes was making a spot start for the injured Al Leiter, and he was squaring off against Kevin Brown. The Mets offense has been struggling, which may be a function of the fatigue of starting the season in Japan, and this was a day game after a night game.

What we didn’t count on happening was Mahomes out-dueling Brown for 5.2 innings. Maybe we shouldn’t have been too surprised with how great he was for the Mets last year.

For the first five innings, the Dodgers couldn’t get a runner past first base. That was the case right from the jump with Mahomes picking Devon White off of first after he led off the game with a single.

The Dodgers finally broke through against Mahomes when Mark Grudzielanek hit a lead-off homer against Mahomes. After two quick outs, Eric Karros would double leading to Bobby Valentine going to get his spot starter after a great outing. When Turk Wendell retired Adrian Beltre, Mahomes was in line for the win.

That was because the Mets offense was able to get the ball up against the sinkerballer Brown. In the second, Jay Payton hit his first career homer. In the ensuing inning, Edgardo Alfonzo hit a two run homer to give the Mets a 3-0 lead.

The Mets offense would come alive with their backups, and they would put some insurance runs against the Dodgers bullpen. Kurt Abbott, Todd Pratt, and Melvin Mora led off the bottom of the eighth with three straight singles off Gregg Olson to expand the lead to 4-1.

The bases were then loaded on a catcher’s interference against Benny Agbayani leading to a Rey Ordonez RBI ground out. Even with the Mets not taking full advantage of the situation, you had to expect a 5-1 lead should have been more than enough. It wasn’t.

John Franco entered the ninth, and even without there being a save opportunity, he blew it. He gave up a homer to the first batter he faced, Karros. After striking out Beltre, he walked Chad Kreuter, and former Met Kevin Elster singled. White then hit a game tying three run homer.

Just like that, the great performance by Mahomes was wasted.

The Mets had an opportunity to win the game in the bottom of the ninth with Todd Zeile drawing a two out walk against Mike Fetters and then stealing second. Pratt would walk as well, but Mora could not drive them home.

Armando Benitez came on for the 10th, and after two quick fly outs, he gave up the game winning homer to Karros. After Jeff Shaw retired the Mets 1-2-3 in the bottom of the inning, the Mets lost about as frustrating a game as they can lose.

Game Notes: Fans booed Rickey Henderson lustily by the fans, and he returned the favor by clapping for himself after he flew out to Shawn Green in the fourth. Valentine would lift him for defensive purposes in the top of the seventh, and Mora would make a nice play in the wind. The first non-Orodonez start at short went to Mora and not Abbott.

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.