Melvin Mora

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: Mets Can’t Overcome Six Run Deficit

Well, this is a redux of the Ryan Dempster/Glendon Rusch match-up in Miami last week. In that game, Rusch was terrific in that game, but he would be out-dueled by Dempster who threw a one hit shut out. Today, neither pitcher would be nearly at the same level. Part of that could have been the slick conditions for a game which had a 25 minute rain delay at the start.

For Rusch, this is now two bad starts over his last three. Entering the fifth, the Mets were already down 2-0 after Dempster hit an RBI double in the second, and Preston Wilson hit one in the third. At 2-0, the Mets were still very much in the game. They wouldn’t be that after the top of the fifth.

First, it was a three run homer by Wilson, and later that inning, Derek Lee hit a homer. That expanded the Marlins lead to 6-0. Rusch had allowed six runs on 12 hits, including those two homers. After throwing 98 pitches, he was done for the game, and unlike his prior starts, he would be a deserving loser in this game.

What was frustrating for the Mets up until that point was they had their chances, and they didn’t have to wait until the sixth to get a hit off of him.

In the first, they wasted a Rickey Henderson lead-off single, and they did the same with Todd Zeile lead-off singles in the second and fourth. Of course, part of the Henderson wasted lead-off single was Henderson’s signature lack of hustle. He thought he hit one out against Dempter beginning his home run trot. Instead, what he had was a single that hit the wall. With his speed, even at this age, that should never happen.

After falling behind 6-0, the Mets were finally able to get to Dempster, not just in this game, but in 2000.

Henderson got the Mets started with a one out single and then a stolen base. He would then score easily on a Derek Bell RBI double. After Bell, Mike Piazza and Robin Ventura would go back-to-back. Suddenly, the Mets were in this game pulling to within 6-4.

After the Ventura homer, the Mets continued the rally. Jon Nunnally drew a two out walk, and Melvin Mora singled. That brought up Kurt Abbott to the plate as the go-ahead run. He’d pop out to end the inning. From there, the Mets would muster just one more hit the entire game.

Even though they only had one more hit, that doesn’t quite mean they had no more chances. In the sixth, Bell doubled putting runners on second and third with one out. Dempster would rear back and strike out Piazza, his final batter of the game. Armando Almanza relieved Dempster, and he struck out Ventura to end the inning.

In the eighth, Almanza would walk two batters giving the Mets first and second with two outs. With Piazza coming to the plate, the Marlins went to Braden Looper. Looper would get Piazza to ground out meekly to first to end the inning.

The shame of it was the Mets bullpen did their job. Turk Wendell (two innings), John Franco, and Armando Benitez shut down the Marlins over the final four innings. However, when your offense isn’t taking advantage of their opportunities, it doesn’t matter. In the end, this was just another ugly loss to a bad Marlins team; one which has pushed the Mets back to just one game over .500.

Game Notes: Edgardo Alfonzo was held out of the starting lineup with a sore calf, but he was able to pinch hit. With Rey Ordonez‘s shoulder injury, that meant the Mets middle infield was Melvin Mora at second, and Abbott at short. The Mets have officially decided to have Pat Mahomes start in Bill Pulsipher‘s place tomorrow.

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 Beat Giants Or Umpires

So far, Mike Hampton just isn’t the ace the Mets thought they were getting when they paid the hefty price of Roger Cedeno, Octavio Dotel, and minor leaguer Kyle Kessel. This game against the Giants was just the latest example.

The Mets have lost two in a row, and their bullpen has been a bit taxed of late. They are without their best player in Mike Piazza. For the first time this season, the team needed a big start from him. He just wasn’t up to the task with walks once again being a big problem for him.

For the second time in as many days, the Mets gave their starter a 1-0 lead. This was courtesy of a Jon Nunnally lead-off homer off of Russ Ortiz. Then, for the second time in as many days, a Mets starter immediately gave back the lead.

Hampton gave up a bunt single to Marvin Benard in the first. Bernard then stole second and scored on a Jeff Kent RBI single. Just like that, the score was tied.

The Mets manufactured their own run when Nunnally walked in the third, stole second, and scored on a Derek Bell RBI single. The rally ended there when Edgardo Alfonzo hit into the inning ending double play. Like in the first, Hampton gave that run right back.

The trouble started when Hampton walked the opposing pitcher to start the inning. After a Robin Ventura error, there was two on and no outs. Hampton did his job by getting Bernard to hit into a double play. However, he could not get that last big out when he allowed Barry Bonds to hit a game tying RBI single.

Again, the Mets would pick up their ace and not the other way around. Jay Payton reached via fielder’s choice and stole second. After a wild pitch, he was on third, and he scored easy on a Todd Pratt RBI double. That’s where the game was until Hampton completely unraveled in the sixth.

It started with Hampton issuing a lead-off walk to Kent. Things really fell apart quickly from there for Hampton with him walking four batters in that inning. It should be noted here the Mets were frustrated by the umpiring during this game (more on this later), and they have been over the past two games.

Still, Hampton didn’t adjust and locate well. Even Bobby Valentine making a rare mound visit did little to get him back into the game. Ultimately, Hampton would wind up walking the last three batters he faced in the game with the last two walks forcing in runs. Dennis Cook would have to come into the game to get Hampton out of the inning, but he would not do so before allowing an RBI single.

Hampton’s final line was an uninspiring 5.1 IP, 6 H, 5 R, 4 ER, 6 BB, 2 K. Yes, he was squeezed, and there was an unearned run, but frankly, Hampton just needs to be better than this. The Mets an ill afford for their purported ace to pitch like a fourth or fifth starter. That goes double when you consider they don’t exactly have a fifth starter right now.

Hampton would not get the loss because his teammates picked him up. In the top of the seventh, Melvin Mora hit a two RBI triple to tie the game. Despite his standing on third with less than two outs, he would be stranded there. That would cost the Mets as the game would go into extra innings.

One of the reasons it went into extras was the Mets again failed to capitalize on opportunities in the eighth. After Alfonzo led of the inning with a single, Ventura hit into a double play. Piazza came off the bench in his first at-bat since his home plate collision in Colorado.

Piazza nearly hit one out. Given the dimensions and wind in PacBell, it’s very likely that ball goes out in the other 29 parks. Just not here. Piazza was then stranded on second when Todd Zeile struck out looking to end the inning. To be fair to Zeile, neither strike two or three were in the strike zone. Again, this was a matter of an inconsistent strike zone which frustrated the Mets all game and series long.

Extra innings would be more of the same. After Benny Agbayani and Bell led off the tenth with back-to-back singles, no one could push them home. Turk Wendell did a tight rope in the 10th to send it into the 11th. That’s where the umpire problems really came to a head.

Zeile led off the the 11th with a single. Pratt hit a ground ball to Kent who threw wide to Rich Aurilia. Despite Aurilia not touching second before his relay to first, the umpires ruled it was a double play. Instead of a runner on second with one out, the Mets had two outs.

That bad umpiring decision loomed large when Wendell did not record an out in the bottom of the inning. After Bernard led off the inning with a single, Wendell wanted no part of Bonds effectively pitching around him to set up first and second with no outs.

As an aside here, Wendell would not typically be used in this situation. With the left-handed Bernard and Bonds due up to start the inning, that is a spot where Valentine would have normally gone with Cook. However, Cook was unavailable because he was needed to bail out Hampton earlier in the game. Also, Valentine could not go to Rich Rodriguez because he was coming off an extended outing, and more than that, he has been completely ineffective this year.

The end result was a rally started by the Giants, and once again, it was the former Met Kent there to do the damage. Kent would hit a walk-off three run homer to give the Giants an 8-5 victory.

There were a number of things wrong in this game including the umpiring. However, if the Mets aren’t going to take advantage of opportunities, and Hampton isn’t going to pitch like a top of the rotation starter, the blame will ultimately fall upon them.

Game Notes: With Piazza available to pinch hit, he appears set to start tomorrow’s matinee. Rickey Henderson was held out of the lineup, and he requested to speak with Steve Phillips about how he has been used this 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: Mets Bats On Rocky Mountain High

With the two starting pitchers, Al Leiter and Brian Bohanan, on the mound, this was a fairly well pitched Coors Field game. That goes double for Leiter. Things would get very interesting when it went to the bullpens.

The Mets had opened the scoring with a Melvin Mora sacrifice fly in the second. That lead jumped to 5-0 in the fourth when Todd Zeile and Mora homered. The Rockies got a couple of those runs back. First, it was a Jeff Cirillo RBI double in the fourth, and then it was a Tom Goodwin sacrifice fly in the fifth.

While the Rockies were trying to inch back, the Mets were piling on the runs. Todd Pratt, who is filling in for the injured Mike Piazza, homered in the sixth. The Mets then seemingly broke the game open in the seventh. Edgardo Alfonzo hit an RBI single, and Derek Bell scored on a Terry Shumpert error. Later that inning, Pratt would hit a sacrifice fly scoring Alfonzo giving the Mets a 9-2 lead in the seventh.

That lead ballooned to 11-3 in the top of the eighth after a Neifi Perez homer in the bottom of the seventh and an Alfonzo two run homer in the top of the eighth. At that point, Bobby Valentine made a defensive substitution putting Jon Nunnally in for Benny Agbayani because it was a very large lead with two innings remaining.

Had this been Shea Stadium, you would have expected the Mets to hold onto this lead and pull out the victory. However, this is Coors Field. As we have seen over the years, really no lead is safe in this ballpark.

At that point, Leiter was dealing allowing just three earned over seven innings. That’s roughly the equivalent of a shutout at Shea. Due to a number of factors, Valentine pushed Leiter into the eighth even though he was already over 100 pitches. It would seem that was a bit of a mistake, but the defense was a factor.

The inning got off to a bad start when Rey Ordonez made yet another error allowing Cirillo to reach safely. Runners were then on first and second after Leiter issued a walk to Todd Helton. Shumpert then hit a single which was misplayed by Nunnally. Instead of fully charging or playing back, he was inbetween. The balls rolled between his legs scoring Cirillo and Helton and putting Shumpert on third.

That chased Leiter. Turk Wendell got Perez to ground out before loading the bases. Valentine went to Dennis Cook to face the left-haned Tom Goodwin. That didn’t work as Goodwin hit a grand slam. Suddenly, the game which was all Mets was a tense 11-9 game.

Fortunately, the Mets offense kept rolling giving the bullpen some breathing room. Mora lead-off the ninth with a walk, and he’d wind up scoring after a passed ball, Ordonez sacrifice bunt, and finally a wild pitch. Bell, Alfonzo, and Robin Ventura hit consecutive singles to put the Mets up 14-9.

It wasn’t technically a save situation, but with the way this game was going, it effectively was. Armando Benitez made things interesting again by allowing a Shumpert two run homer. Benitez then rebounded to record the final two outs in the Mets 14-11 victory.

In essence, this was a Coors Field game. Ultimately, the Mets were able to pull this one out because they put enough distance between themselves and the Rockies before the Rockies bats truly started clicking. By doing that, the Mets have won their second in a row and have taken this series.

Game Notes: In Piazza’s absence, Pratt has stepped up going 6-for-9 with three runs, a double, homer, and three RBI. With his six errors, Ordonez has now committed two more errors than he did all last season.

Editor’s Note: With there being no games to begin the season, this site will follow the 2000 season and post recaps as if those games happened in real time. If nothing else, it is better to remember this pennant winning season and revisit some of the overlooked games than it is to dwell on the complete lack of baseball.

2000 Game Recap: 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.

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: Mets Sweep Double-Header From Cubs

If Don Baylor was angry with Bobby Valentine and the Mets for protesting the Cubs Opening Day victory due to Baylor’s lineup snafu, he may be downright livid right now with the Mets sweeping the doubleheader after Friday night’s game was rained out.

In the opener, Glendon Rusch had another terrific outing to start the season. He followed his complete game loss against the Pirates with a seven inning effort picking up the win after allowing just two earned on four hits. One thing which is really standing out with Rusch right now is he not only working fast, but he is also not beating himself by being stingy with his walks.

When the Cubs finally got to him in the seventh with a pair of homers by Mark Grace and Shane Andrews, the Mets already had a 3-2 lead. With the Mets holding onto Mike Piazza to catch the knuckleballer in the second end of the doubleheader, the Mets utilized more of a small ball approach.

In the first inning, Robin Ventura knocked in the first run of the game with an RBI groundout. The Mets expanded the lead with a groundout by Todd Pratt and an RBI single from Matt Franco.

The Mets would then blow the game open in the eighth. After Pratt drew a lead-off walk and moved to second on a ground out (not ruled a sacrifice) by Franco, Melvin Mora was intentionally walked. Rey Ordonez responded with an RBI single. After Piazza entered the game as a pinch hitter and was walked, Benny Agbayani and Derek Bell hit back-to-back doubles giving the Mets an 8-2 lead in a game they would eventually win 8-3.

In the second half of the doubleheader, for the first time in team history, they would start a knuckleball pitcher with Dennis Springer taking the mound. Springer would acquit himself well taking the no decision after allowing three runs over 5.1 innings.

Springer was staked with an early lead when Agbayani hit a bases loaded two RBI single to give the Mets an early 2-0 lead. The rally ended there was Todd Zeile committed the mortal sin of making the last out at third after getting caught by Henry Rodriguez in his attempt to go from first to third.

The Cubs first got to Springer in the fifth with a Jeff Huson RBI single. They would then chase Springer in the fifth. After allowing back-to-back doubles to Rodriguez and Jeff Reed, the Cubs took the lead 3-2. After a Roosevelt Brown single, Valentine got Springer.

Dennis Cook made an immediate impact by picking Brown off first. After the intentional walk to Andrews, Cook retired Kyle Farnsworth to get the Mets out of the jam. If Baylor could make that decision again, he would probably pinch hit for Farnsworth.

The Mets would have a big bottom of the sixth starting with a Robin Ventura lead-off homer. The Mets would then load the bases for Ordonez who delivered another big hit with a two RBI single. The big inning continued with a Melvin Mora sacrifice fly. Piazza then reached on a Andrews error, who stayed in the game for defensive purposes, allowing Ordonez to score. This gave the Mets a 7-3 lead.

Rodriguez would do all he could do to try to bring the Cubs back. In the top of the seventh, he hit an RBI double off of Cook to pull the Cubs within 7-4. In the ninth, with Armando Benitez on for the save, he hit a two run homer to pull the Cubs within 7-6.

Benitez rebounded to strike out Tarrik Brock to end the game. With that strikeout, the Mets swept the doubleheader, and the team has now won six straight games.

In the doubleheader, the Mets had a number of players come up big. Derek Bell was 6-for-8 with two doubles. Agbayani was 3-for-4 with a double. The most surprising was Ordonez who was 3-for-7 with a double and three RBI. Ultimately, when the Mets are getting that type of production at the plate from Ordonez, they are unbeatable.

Game 1 Notes: Franco’s single in the sixth broke an 0-for-12 stretch to start the season.

Game 2 Notes: Piazza had previously caught Springer in the minor leagues, which was one of the reasons why he caught him in the second game.

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: Melvin Mora Sweeps Away Brewers

If Bobby Valentine wasn’t happy with the Mets acquiring Derek Bell in the offseason, watching him play, especially defense, Valentine surely must be reassessing his original opinion. Once again, it was Bell who was a key contributor for the Mets.

Heading into the seventh, the Mets were trailing 4-1 to the Brewers with the Mets lone run coming when Mike Piazza cleared the picnic area to lead-off the second inning. That homer had tied the score at 1-1. They would soon fall behind the Brewers.

For the first time this year, Al Leiter wasn’t sharp. In fact, he’d walk three and allow two homers. The first was a two run shot by James Mouton in the third. Charlie Hayes would hit a solo shot in the sixth giving the Brewers a 4-1 lead. For a while, that seemed like it would end the Mets winning streak.

Brewers starter Steve Woodard was sharp with the Piazza homer being one of just three hits he allowed over six innings. In fact, after that Piazza homer, Woodard retired the next 15 Mets who would face him. Then, Bell would coe to the plate to lead-off the seventh, and he would launch a homer to pull the Mets to within 4-2.

That homer seemed to ignite the Mets. Edgardo Alfonzo singled, and then Piazza walked. That chased Woodard from the game. The LOOGY Valerio De Los Santos did his job getting Robin Ventura to hit into a fielder’s choice with Piazza being forced out at second.

The Brewers then went to David Weathers to face Todd Zeile. Zeile greeted Weathers with an opposite field RBI single. On the play, Ventura tried to go first to third, and Jeromy Burnitz unleashed a throw which went into the stands allowing Ventura to score on the play to tie the game a 4-4.

That’s when the Mets bullpen, who had been home run happy to start the season, stepped up pitching four scoreless innings. The first two came from Pat Mahomes, who got some help from Bell making a sliding catch deep in the right field corner to rob Marquis Grissom of a hit. Dennis Cook and Turk Wendell walked a tightrope in their scoreless innings.

Cook beaned Burnitz, who stole second with two outs, but he would be stranded there. Wendell hit Ronnie Belliard to start off the 10th, and after a passed ball by Todd Pratt, who came into the game after the Mets pinch ran for Piazza in the ninth, Belliard was in scoring position with one out. Wendell settled in, and he kept Belliard there putting him in line for the win.

After missing an opportunity to score in the ninth and with one out in the 10th, Melvin Mora homered off the first pitch he saw from Curtis Leskanic to win the game. It was the Mets first walk-off win of 2000, and that homer completed the Mets first sweep of the season. Suddenly, this is a team getting key hits and are now two games over .500.

Game Notes: Darryl Hamilton will not be coming off the DL tomorrow meaning Benny Agbayani will stay with the ballclub. At the moment, no one has any idea when, or maybe if, Hamilton can play again this year. Rey Ordonez returned to the lineup. He was 0-for-4 at the plate.

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.