Matt Franco

2000 Game Recap: Rick Reed Is Back On Track

Well, after beating the Brewers nine times in a row, the Mets finally lost one to the Brew Crew yesterday. Today, Rick Reed would make sure that was not going to happen again.

The Brewers did get to Reed in the first when Ronnie Belliard homered to lead-off the top of the first. The Brewers wouldn’t get to Reed again until the sixth, but by that point, the Mets had a substantial lead due to a big fourth inning from the Mets offense.

Up until that point, Jason Bere had only allowed a hit to the opposing pitcher, Reed. The second time through the order was a much different situation with Bere as he could not get the first four batters he faced out. Matt Franco and Edgardo Alfonzo singled in front of a Mike Piazza RBI double tying the score 1-1.

After Robin Ventura was intentionally walked, Jay Payton hit a go-ahead sacrifice fly. Then, Kurt Abbott had the big blow with a three run homer increasing the Mets lead to 5-1. That was a huge hit for Abbott. It was almost a week ago his error helped cost the Mets the game. Since that time, he has played sparingly, but this is his second big extra base hit in that time frame.

From there, the game calmed down until the sixth when the Brewers started the sixth with runners on the corners after Geoff Jenkins and Jeromy Burnitz led off the inning with back-to-back singles. Reed was able to stifle that rally by getting Charlie Hayes to hit into a 5-4-3 double play. A run would score on the play, but the Brewers did no more.

The Mets got that run right back. After Reed reached on a Tyler Houston error, Jason Tyner had the somewhat unusual task of sacrificing the pitcher to scoring position. After Franco singled, Alfonzo hit a sacrifice fly to score Reed to increase the Mets lead back to five runs.

In the seventh, it was clear Reed was at the end of the line. Henry Blanco hit a one out double, and he would score on a Belliard two out triple. Reed was able to get out of the inning, and he had a quality start under this belt. After his struggles post injury, he has now posted consecutive 6+ inning starts allowing three runs. This is exactly the pitcher the Mets need him to be.

As they had done in the top of the seventh, the Mets got that run back. This time it was Ventura hitting an eighth inning lead-off homer against Valerio De Los Santos. After that homer, John Franco and Armando Benitez would pitch consecutive scoreless innings to secure the Mets 7-3 victory.

Game Notes: The players wore wristbands in support of pancreatic cancer research, and the homers by Abbott and Ventura led to $50,000 in donations by an independent sponsor. Mike Hamptonthrew a bullpen and seems set to return for his next start. Bobby Jones is set to make another start in Triple-A.

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 Make Rusch Hard Luck Loser Again

Sometimes, there is just no rhyme or reason for it. Each and every year, there is going to be one pitcher in your rotation who is going to go out there and pitch well, and for reasons which cannot be fully explained, they just don’t get any run support. Really, that is the only way to explain what has been happening to Glendon Rusch this season.

Ronnie Belliard homered off of Rusch to start the bottom of the first, and the Mets would struggle against John Snyder. In his career, Snyder has just not been a good pitcher. However, to be fair, he is in the middle of the best ever stretch of his career. Even with Snyder pitching the game of his life, the Mets would get a lead.

Robin Ventura led off the top of the second with a walk, and he moved to second on a Todd Zeile single. Jay Payton would single home Ventura, but the rally would sputter there as Melvin Mora, Rusch, and Jason Tyner could not bring home either Zeile or Payton. That would be the story of the day for the Mets.

In the third, Edgardo Alfonzo was on second with one out, and the Mets could not bring him home. In the fourth, Rusch could not get a bunt down, and Mora was caught stealing. In the fifth, Mike Piazza hit a two out RBI single, and he advanced to second on the throw home. However, he was stranded there as Zeile could not deliver the key hit after Ventura was intentionally walked.

The Mets would rue missing out on those opportunities as Rusch got wild in the sixth. After plunking Luis Lopez, he walked Charlie Hayes. Jeromy Burnitz advanced the runners on a ground out. Marquis Grissom would then hit a go-ahead two RBI single.

When all was said and done, it was not Rusch’s best start, but it was more than good enough to earn the victory. Over his 6.1 innings, he allowed just three runs while allowing three hits and a very uncharacteristically high six walks. In fact, Rusch had only walked six batters total over the first two months of the season.

To Rusch’s credit, even with the wildness, he limited the damage. With Turk Wendell shutting down the Brewers over the final 1.2 innings, the Mets had a chance to tie the game and pull out a victory. Instead, the Mets would again blow their chances.

That was really the case in the eighth. After Piazza and Ventura led off the inning with back-to-back singles, Bobby Valentine got aggressive sending out Kurt Abbott and Joe McEwing to pinch run. It was an agressive move which backfired because the Mets offense sputtered from there.

Curtis Leskanic got Zeile to pop out before striking out Payton. Valentine then sent up Matt Franco to pinch hit for Mora, but Franco would line out to end the inning. You could question not using Lenny Harris there, but then again, Harris would not get a pinch hit single in the ninth.

Ultimately, the Mets had their chances, but they continuously failed to deliver. Maybe, just maybe, it is one of those strange things were Rusch is going to be the pitcher with minimal run support and be the hard luck loser in 2000. That’s the way it is right now. Hopefully, that will not continue to be the case.

Game Notes: This ended the Brewers nine game losing streak against the Mets. Tyner was back in the lineup after missing the last few with a sore arm. After two big games in a row, Benny Agbayani was out of the lineup. Oddly enough, he was not one of the people used as a pinch hitter.

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 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: Rey Ordonez Breaks Arms In Loss

It was a play only Rey Ordonez could make. After F.P. Santangelo had his at-bat extended by a Robin Ventura error on a foul ball pop up, he walked. Al Leiter picked Santangelo off first, and Todd Zeile made a poor throw. For any other shortstop, this would have been a ball thrown into left field.

However, this is Ordonez. He made one of the most incredible plays you will ever see. Ordonez lunged to get the errant throw, and he then twisted in the air getting the tag on Santangelo to record the out. That wasn’t the only out on the play. The defensive wizard Ordonez broke his arm on the play, and he is going to be headed to the DL.

Ordonez wouldn’t be the only loss for the Mets. For the first time all season, the Mets would lose a game Leiter started.

Like the last time the Mets went out west, which was somehow little over a week ago, the Mets hot bats went cold against a mediocre pitcher. This time, it was Chan Ho Park who shut them down.

Over the first six-and-a-half innings, both teams would put together rallies, but they would each fall short. For example, the Mets twice had two on, and they failed to score. As for the Dodgers, they were shooting themselves in the foot.

In the second, Mike Piazza threw out his old roommate Eric Karros trying to steal a base to end the inning. In the fifth, Karros tried to score from first on a Chad Kreuter double, and he was thrown out at the plate on a Joe McEwingKurt Abbott relay. Abbott’s throw was high, but Piazza had enough time to leap, land, and put down the tag. In the sixth, Karros was not going to run the Dodgers out of the inning.

In that sixth inning, Leiter just lost it. He gave up a single to Jose Vizcaino to start the inning. After a Park sacrifice bunt Leiter hit the next two batters to load the bases with one out. Leiter was all over the place, and after throwing a first pitch ball to Shawn Green, he tried to throw a strike. Instead, he made a mistake, a big mistake as Green hit a grand slam.

It was a shame that happened as Leiter was very good in this game other than that stretch. In fact, other than that inning, Leiter had allowed just three other hits and issued one walk. If not for this sixth inning meltdown, who knows how much longer this game would’ve gone.

The Mets bullpen did their job with Rich Rodriguez and Jim Mann combining to pitch a scoreless seventh and eighth to give the Mets a chance. To their credit, the Mets would rally in the ninth against Dodgers closer Jeff Shaw.

Benny Agbayani led off the ninth with a single, and there would be runners on first and second with one out after a Matt Franco pinch hit walk. After a Derek Bell ground out, McEwing hit an RBI double. Unfortunately, that was the only run the Mets would score in the 4-1 loss as Edgardo Alfonzo grounded out to end the game.

For the Mets, the loss is one thing. The bigger issue for the team going forward is going to be how they are going to handle shortstop for the next two months as Ordonez’s broken arm heals.

Game Notes: Melvin Mora is expected to come off the DL after this road trip. It remains to be seen if he will be rushed back with Ordonez hitting the DL and Abbott hitting just .200. This was Mann’s MLB debut. Given what the Mets decided to do with Rick Reed, he may stay on the roster for a longer stretch than originally anticipated.

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 Can’t Complete Comeback

The Mets have a couple of pitchers who are dealing with some nagging injuries or have recently returned from injuries. Two of those pitchers, Bobby Jones and Pat Mahomes, pitched today, and they were unable to get the job done as the Mets dropped the rubber game.

Things started well enough for Jones as he pitched a scoreless first, but he was blitzed by the Padres in the second. Phil Nevin led off the inning with a single. Jones caught him leaning, but Todd Zeile missed the ball allowing Nevin to go to second.

Perhaps flustered, perhaps not, Jones would allow back-to-back homers to Ryan Klesko and Bret Boone giving the Padres a 3-0 lead. That lead grew to 4-0 when Ruben Rivera hit an RBI double.

Jones should get some credit here. After that terrible inning, Jones settled down pitching three scoreless innings after that to keep the Mets in the game. No, it was not pretty with him allowing three doubles over that stretch. Still, he kept the Padres at bay.

The Mets rewarded Jones for his effort by getting him off the hook. In the fourth, Edgardo Alfonzo and Mike Piazza led off the inning with back-to-back singles off of Brian Meadows. Robin Ventura would double home Alfonzo. Piazza would score later in the inning on a Benny Agbayani RBI groundout.

The Mets would get closer in the sixth. Ventura had hit what should have been an inning ending double play, but Klesko dropped the ball. The Mets took advantage with Zeile singling, and Agbayani drawing a walk to load the bases. Matt Franco pinch hit for Rey Ordonez, and he drew a bases loaded walk to pull the Mets to within 4-3.

Carlos Almanzar relieved Meadows, and he got the Padres out of the jam by retiring Kurt Abbott. While Amanzar got out of that sixth inning jam, he’d give up the lead in the seventh when Edgardo Alfonzo hit a two out solo homer to tie the game.

At that point in the game, Mahomes had relieved Jones, and he pitched a scoreless sixth. Bobby Valentine stuck with Mahomes in the seventh, and he pitched a 1-2-3- inning. Seeing how well he was pitching and given his track record, Valentine stuck with Mahomes. That decision did not work as Boone hit a lead-off homer in the eighth to give the Padres a 5-4 lead.

Unlike the past two nights, the Mets were unable to put any pressure on Trevor Hoffman. For the first time in the series, Hoffman had a 1-2-3 inning. With that, the Padres took the series, and the Mets are getting on a flight to St. Louis before flying back to the west coast to face the Dodgers.

Game Notes: The Mets initial two outfield options with the release of Rickey Henderson were Jon Nunnally and Jay Payton. Both players are struggling at the plate with them hitting .191 and .206 respectively. Valentine has responded by mostly using them as defensive replacements.

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: Hoffman Doesn’t Let Mets Score With Bases Loaded In Ninth

This should serve as a reminder the schedule makers should be provided with a map of the United States. After being in California a little more than a week ago, the Mets are back on the west coast to play the Padres. Wait, it gets better. From there, they’ll fly to St. Louis and then fly back to California to play the Dodgers.

This is exhausting for any team, and today, we saw the signs of that fatigue as the Mets bats did not wake up after exploding against the Diamondbacks. Really, it speaks volumes when the Mets beat up on Randy Johnson, but they can’t get anything going against Matt Clement.

The only time the Mets got going against Clement and the Padres was in the second. Matt Franco and Benny Agbayani hit back-to-back singles to put runners at the corners with one out. That rally went nowhere as Rey Ordonez grounded out to Clement, who nailed Franco at the plate, who was going home on the contact play.

After the second inning, the Mets would muster just one hit off of Clement who pitched eight scoreless innings striking out six Mets.

On the bright side of the Mets, Glendon Rusch was his equal. After a recent tough stint, the Mets skipped his last start. That proved to be the right move as Rusch went from the pitcher to allowed 6+ runs in two out of his last three starts to the pitcher he was in the beginning of the year. That pitcher pitches at a quick pace going seven innings allowing two or fewer runs.

Against the Padres, Rusch went seven scoreless, and like Clement, he only allowed three hits. Also like Clement, he got in trouble early only to have the defense get an out at home.

That first inning was really an adventure. Eric Owens struck out to lead off the inning, but he reached on the wild pitch on strike three. He’d then get picked off by Rusch. Owens mistake proved costly as Ruben Rivera tripled in that at-bat. Rivera wouldn’t score as he was nailed at the plate by Robin Ventura on a Tony Gwynn grounder.

The Mets then had their second and final rally of the game in the fourth. Ventura drew a walk, the Mets only walk against Clement, and he would go to second on a Mike Piazza single. That single was the Mets last hit against Clement. After an Agbayani fielder’s choice, there were runners at the corners.

During Rey Ordonez‘s at-bat, a Clement pitch got away from Carlos Hernandez but not far enough. Ventura broke from home, but Hernandez would get it home in time for Clement to get the tag down. After that play, the Mets would not have another base runner or chance against Clement.

With Rusch shutting down the Padres as well, this game would eventually turn into a battle between John Franco and Trevor Hoffman, two of the pitchers with the most saves in baseball history. Neither were particularly good, but one would be just good enough.

In the eighth, Owens led off the inning with a single like he did in the first. The difference is this time he would not get picked off. Instead, he would steal second. With him in scoring position, this time Rivera was able to drive him home to give the Padres a 1-0 lead. Things could have been worse, but Franco got Gwynn to hit into an inning ending double play.

With the way the Mets offense had been going, this looked like it should be an easy night for Hoffman. It wasn’t. Edgardo Alfonzo and Piazza led off the inning with back-to-back singles. Then, in a truly bizarre move Bobby Valentine had Ventura bunt Alfonzo and Piazza to second and third.

After Hoffman intentionally walked Franco to load the bases, Jay Payton popped out to second, and Mark Johnson flew out to center to end the game. Looking at that inning, you have to wonder if Ventura was allowed to hit, how much different things would have gone. Then again, you have to wonder what would have been different if the Mets took advantage of any of their opportunities in this maddening 1-0 loss.

Game Notes: Ventura returned to the lineup after sitting two games with a sore left thigh. Joe McEwing again led off and played center.

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: Someone Named Bubba Carpenter Beats Mets

Once again, Rick Reed allowed two earned (or fewer) over seven innings. Once again, he was dominating this time striking out 10 batters. Only this time, it wasn’t good enough for the Mets.

While Reed was striking out Rockies left and right, Masato Yoshii was back at Shea Stadium, and he looked more comfortable on that mound than he has all year on the mound in Coors. In fact, Yoshii would match Reed allowing three runs over seven innings himself.

In fact, the Rockies would be leading with Brent Mayne of all people leading the charge. Mayne had an RBI double in the second and an RBI single in the fourth. Reed hurt himself in that fourth inning throwing one away during a pick-off allowing Jeffrey Hammonds to go from first-to third. He would score that inning on a Darren Bragg RBI single.

The Mets had only two runs entering the bottom of the seventh. In the second, Robin Ventura hit homer off of Yoshii. Later, in the fourth, Derek Bell hit a lead-off double, and he would score after a pair of ground outs from Edgardo Alfonzo and Mike Piazza. Ventura would double after the Piazza ground out, but he would be stranded there.

Yoshii would again stifle a Mets two run rally in the sixth. After a pair of Alfonzo and Piazza singles put runners on the corners, Ventura grounded out to end the inning. This put the Mets down one entering the bottom half of the inning. That’s when Todd Zeile hit a game tying homer. The problem is the Mets offense couldn’t push a run across after that homer.

John Franco and Armando Benitez (two innings) did their part by combining to pitch three scoreless innings. During that time, the Mets offense could not get out of its own way.

Going back to the seventh, after Zeile’s homer, the Mets had runners on first and second with one out only for that rally to end on a Joe McEwing GIDP. Like in the seventh, the Mets had a two out rally in the 10th which they squandered. Bell singled, and Alfonzo drew a walk, but Piazza would ground out to end the inning.

The Mets would rue wasting these chances as Turk Wendell surrendered a home to Bubba Carpenter in the 11th. Carpenter is a 31 year old rookie who no one has ever heard of before today. These are the types of homers which eat away at you because 31 year old rookies like Carpenter should not be beating you.

But, he did because Wendell threw a bad pitch and because the Mets offense could not push home yet another runner who was in scoring position. Zeile hit a one out double, and Bobby Valentine would have Kurt Abbott pinch run for him. Abbott moved to third on an Agbayani ground out, but he would stay there as Matt Franco struck out to end the game.

Again, the Mets are losing games they should win, and they are losing to inferior teams. Simply put, if the Mets have any designs on making the postseason this year, they have to play better than this. There really are no excuses for this.

Game Notes: Darryl Hamilton has begun rehabbing after surgery for his toe. Over his last five games, Zeile is 10-for-18.

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

2000 Game Recap: Mets Shoot Selves In Foot Continuously In 12 Inning Loss

Look, it was one thing to get shut down by Denny Neagle. He’s a very good pitcher who has a few Cy Young caliber seasons under his belt. It is a whole other thing to get shut down by Steve Parris. While Parris is coming off a decent year, he was coming off a start where the Dodgers battered him for five runs over two innings, and he had an 8.47 ERA entering the game.

Before delving into all that went wrong, there should be focus on what went right – Glendon Rusch.

Rusch entered Spring Training having to win a job in the rotation, and even if he was not the sentimental favorite among fans, Rusch did win that spot. He has backed up that Spring Training performance by having a terrific start to the season.

This start against the Reds marked his third straight start where he pitched at least 7.0 innings while allowing two runs or less. One of the big keys is using a quick tempo and not beating himself. So far, over his 22.2 innings this year, he has walked just two batters.

Really, the one thing which is plaguing him right now is the long ball. That issue arose again when Ken Griffey, Jr. hit a solo homer off of him to give the Reds an early 1-0 lead. Fortunately for Rusch, he’d shut down the Reds from there on out, and he would take the no decision. He more than deserved a win (again), but at least he didn’t take the loss.

The reason Rusch didn’t take the loss was because Robin Ventura hit a solo homer to lead off the fourth. The problem for Ventura and the Mets was this was the only run they would score on the day. Really, they have no one to blame but themselves for that as they wasted opportunity after opportunity.

In the first, Ventura hit into an inning ending double play with runners on first and second. Todd Pratt would hit into a double play to end the second ending any chances of a rally getting going. In the third, Edgardo Alfonzo flew out with runners on first and second.

The Mets next chance to score came in the eighth. Derek Bell drew a two out walk, and he advanced to second on a passed ball. After Alfonzo walked, there was yet another situation with runners on first and second. This time, Ventura struck out swinging to end the inning.

As bad as those earlier missed chances were, the ninth would be a bit of a horror show for the Mets.

Todd Zeile would lead-off the inning with a single. This led to Bobby Valentine pegging Rickey Henderson, the all-time stolen base leader as a pinch runner. Henderson, clearly miffed at the throwing over and uncalled balks, took off for second on a 3-2 pitch to Matt Franco.

Not only would Franco swing and miss at what should’ve been ball four, but Henderson, who didn’t get a good break and wasn’t exactly hustling, was thrown out by a VERY wide margin by Benito Santiago. Henderson didn’t even bother getting into a rundown or anything. He just took the tag and walked off the field.

And yet, after that, the Mets still had a chance in the ninth. Pratt drew a walk, and he would be standing on third after a Rey Ordonez double. This led to some very curious decision making by Valentine. With Mike Piazza on the bench, the best hitter on the team, he stuck with Melvin Mora, who drew a walk to load the bases, and then Jon Nunnally, who flew out to end the inning and send the game into extras.

Nothing really happened in extras until the 12th inning when Armando Benitez entered the game and lost the strike zone. Sandwiched between a Boone sacrifice bunt were two walks (one intentional, one not). The Reds then took the lead on a Travis Dawkins RBI single.

In the 12th, the Mets yet again had a chance to win. After Mora grounded out against Scott Sullivan, Nunally drew a walk and advanced to second on a wild pitch. That put him in scoring position with less than two outs. After a Derek Bell walk, the Mets once again had first and second, and once again, they did nothing with it.

Alfonzo and Ventura both popped out in the infield to end the game. This put a sour note on an otherwise terrific homestand where they went from puzzling to getting to be the team we expected them to be this year. Overall, whenever you get an 8-2 home stand, you take it no matter how disappointing the home stand ends.

Game Notes: In Mets related news, Darryl Strawberry left rehab earlier than expected without any public explanation available. The Mets are now embarking on a long 13 game road trip taking them to 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: Mets Happier With Bell And Benitez Than Griffey

The last time we saw Al Leiter on the mound against the Cincinnati Reds, he was pitching a complete game two hit shut out to send the Mets to the NLDS. Today, Leiter was not nearly as sharp against the Reds, and he would fatigue late in the game.

Heading into the top of the sixth, the Mets had a 4-1 lead over the Reds. The first run came on back-to-back doubles by Mike Piazza and Robin Ventura to lead off the second inning. Two innings later, Edgardo Alfonzo hit a two run homer driving in Rickey Henderson. Later that inning, Ventura hit a solo shot.

For Leiter, he was fighting it hitting the first batter he faced, Pokey Reese. Entering that sixth inning, he did not have a clean 1-2-3 inning. Fortunately, he was the beneficiary of double plays in the second and fourth. However, he could not get that double play ball in the third.

That inning, Reese doubled off of Leiter, and he advanced to third on a wild pitch. Former Mets prospect Alex Ochoa drove in Reese with an RBI groundout. The wild pitch was indicative of how much Leiter was fighting it on this brutally cold day. Overall, he would hit two batters, throw the wild pitch, and issue three walks.

Leiter’s wildness and ineffectiveness caught up to him in the sixth. He would load the bases with one out after walking Dante Bichette, allowing a double to Dmitri Young, and hitting Aaron Boone. Benito Santiago drove in a run with an RBI groundout. After a Travis Dawkins RBI double and Mark Lewis RBI single, the Reds had a 5-4 lead.

At that point, Leiter was chased from the game with Turk Wendell getting the last out of the inning to end the rally. This was the second straight game Wendell entered during a jam, and he would get out of it keeping the Mets chances in the game alive. Today, he would be rewarded with a win for his efforts.

In the top of the seventh, the Mets tied the score on a lead-off homer by Derek Bell. After that homer, Alfonzo singled, and Piazza doubled to set up second and third with no outs. The Reds then brought in Scott Sullivan. He apparently wasn’t quite ready as he first issued an intentional walk to Ventura before issuing an unintentional bases loaded walk to Jon Nunnally to give the Mets a 6-5 lead.

With the bases loaded and no outs, the Mets seemed primed to blow this game wide open. Instead, Sullivan went from throwing eight straight balls to striking out Jay Payton and Melvin Mora with ease. Matt Franco grounded out to end the rally.

This game would get a little more interesting. It was interesting not in the fact that it was a crazy back-and-forth affair. It wasn’t. Rather, it was interesting because we got early returns on the Mets offseason.

Before the Mets obtained Mike Hampton from the Astros, they had first attempted to get Ken Griffey, Jr. away from the Mariners. In that deal, the Mets were rumored to be parting with Roger Cedeno, Octavio Dotel, and Armando Benitez. When Griffey refused a trade to the Mets, Steve Phillips moved Cedeno and Dotel to the Astros.

In that Astros trade, the Mets not only netted Hampton, but also Bell. Bell has been a revelation for the Mets not only with his terrific right field defense but also for his big hits. One of those big hits came today with the game tying homer to lead off the seventh.

The failed Griffey trade also meant Benitez remained on as the Mets closer. Today, the Mets were happy with that.

After walking Sean Casey to lead off the inning, Benitez responded by striking out Reese and Michael Tucker. That brought Griffey to the plate as the go-ahead run. With the game on the line, the Shea Stadium crowd who let him have it all day continued to let him have it. They then got to celebrate when Benitez blew a fastball by Griffey to end the game.

With the win, the Mets winning streak is now nine games, and more than that, it appears as if the Mets got lucky by having Bell in right instead of Griffey. Of course, Griffey is a future Hall of Famer, and the Mets may still wish they got him, but for now, this is a Mets team who appears to be World Series contenders, and we will all take that.

Game Notes: The Mets wore their 1969 throwbacks. Before the game, Rey Ordonez and Cookie Rojas left the ballpark to protest the Elian Gonzalez deportation. This was part of a nationwide one-day work stoppage. Mora started at short in Ordonez’s place.

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.