Mike Hampton

Bobby Bonilla Was A Better Met Than You Remember

If you ask people about Bobby Bonilla‘s time with the Mets, there is nothing but negativity associated with his tenure. There is the annual consternation over his deferred payments. His last ever act as a member of the team was playing cards in the clubhouse with Rickey Henderson as Kenny Rogers walked Andruw Jones. He wore earplugs to drown out the booing, and generally speaking, he was cantankerous.

Truth be told, Bonilla was not well suited to playing in New York either when he was a 29 year old or when he was a 36 year old. However, sometimes we over-focus on negatives like this to overlook the positives.

Bonilla signing with the Mets was supposed to usher in a new era of Mets baseball. A team who never truly forayed into free agency made the highly coveted Bonilla the highest paid player in the game. Bonilla, who grew up a Mets fan, was coming home to play for his favorite team. At least on the first day he wore a Mets uniform, it seemed like this marriage was going to go great.

On Opening Day, Bonilla hit two homers against the hated Cardinals helping the Mets win 4-2. It was exactly what fans expected from him and that team. However, things quickly unraveled for that Mets team who would be dubbed The Worst Team Money Could Buy. From there things went bad, and they went bad quickly.

Bonilla slumped mightly in May while the Mets. Even when he picked it back up in June, a Mets team who was well in contention fell completely apart. With Bonilla having an awful May and his being the highest paid player in the game, he faced the brunt of the criticism. Unlike Carlos Beltran who went from maligned in 2005 to superstar in 2006, Bonilla never quite recovered.

Part of the reason is the Mets were plain bad. To that end, it’s not his fault the Mets plan was ill conceived. Howard Johnson was not an outfielder. Other players like Eddie Murray and Willie Randolph were over 35. Bret Saberhagen and John Franco were injured. Anthony Young was in the middle of his MLB record losing streak. The bigger issue is Bonilla handled it poorly, and then he was terrible at the end of the year hitting just .196 over the final two months of the season.

While stats like this weren’t used regularly in 1992, the 1.2 WAR was the worst he had since his rookie year. The 121 wRC+ was his worst since his second year in the league. Bonilla and that 1992 Mets team was a huge disappointment, and Bonilla’s image never quite recovered.

What gets lost in the criticism is Bonilla did rebound. From 1993 – 1995, he averaged a 3.1 WAR, and he was a 138 OPS+ hitter. He hit .296/.371/.537 while averaging 27 homers and 84 RBI over that stretch. He would make two All-Star teams, and Bonilla proved to be a bit of a team player willingly moving to third base for stretches when Johnson was injured.

Bonilla’s true breakout season with the Mets came in 1995. He was mashing the ball hitting .325/.385/.599 (151 OPS+) when he was traded to the Baltimore Orioles. Really, this is what the Mets envisioned they were going to get with him. It just took a longer period of adjustment for him to get there.

Overall, in the first stint of his Mets career, Bonilla hit .277/.361/.505 with a 130 wRC+ amassing a 9.7 WAR. That was not that bad, and to a certain extent, on the field, you could say he lived up to the contract. No, he did not live up to expectations, but to be fair, he was never surrounded with the talent to help him do that.

When you look at his entire Mets career, he ranks as the fifth best Mets RF by WAR. The four players ahead of him played more games with the Mets. Among players with at least 500 games played, he is the Mets second best hitting right fielder, and he is tied for sixth as the best Mets hitter of all-time.

At least on the field, that is not a player worth as much derision as he receives. No, on the field he was good but not great Mets player. On the field, he did nothing to deserve scorn.

Off the field is a whole other matter. His adversarial nature with the press did nothing to help him. Mets fans are never going to forgive him playing poker while they were crushed by the ending of Game 6. No one is saying you should.

Rather, the suggestion here is Bonilla be remembered for being the good player he actually was. If you want, you can also opt to remember him a little more warmly as his accepting the buyout led to the Mets having the money to obtain Mike Hampton in a trade. That helped the Mets get a pennant, and when Hampton left for Colorado, the Mets used that compensatory pick to draft David Wright.

All told, the Mets were far better off having Bonilla as a part of the Mets organization as you may have realized.

2000 Game Recap: Mets Nearly Blow Eight Run Lead

The rain caused this game to be delayed three-and-a-half hours, and for a while it seemed like the Mets had completely washed out the Arizona Diamondbacks. With a five run fourth, this game had seemed all but over. It wasn’t.

In that fourth, the Mets built upon a 1-0 lead from a Derek Bell RBI single the previous inning. In the fourth, starting with Benny Agbayani, the Mets hit four straight singles with Mike Hampton delivering a two RBI single. A Joe McEwing grounder ate up Jay Bell driving home another run. The final run of the inning came on an Edgardo Alfonzo sacrifice fly.

When Alfonzo homered in the seventh, the Mets had an 8-0 lead. This should have been as easy as it gets.

For a while it was, Hampton continued his stretch of terrific pitching shutting out the Diamondbacks over six innings. After Dennis Cook pitched a scoreless seventh, Bobby Valentine began pulling his regulars. Mark Johnson replaced Todd Zeile at first. Todd Pratt took over for Piazza behind the plate. Jon Nunnally came in for Bell. Kurt Abbott came in for Alfonzo.

At the time, it seemed like the smart move. There was a rain delay, and this presented an opportunity to get the regulars some rest. Little did we know, but the game would soon get away from the Mets.

It began with Pat Mahomes injuring his ankle. In the eighth, he’d walk Luis Gonzalez before surrendering a two run homer to Greg Colbrunn. At that point, it was still just 8-2, and the game was heading into the ninth. That was the type of lead you expect even Rich Rodriguez to hold. That proved to almost be wrong.

Former Met Bernard Gilkey singled to start the inning, and he scored on a Travis Lee double. After a Dan Klassen walk, Hanley Frias grounded into a double play. Any hopes that was going to be the end of the jam ended with a Tony Womack RBI single.

With the Diamondbacks now within 8-4, and Damian Miller singling, Valentine went to John Franco. Franco was not immediately relief allowing three straight singles allowing three more runs to score. Suddenly, it was 8-7, and the Diamondbacks had the tying run at third.

Valentine went deeper into his bullpen he probably never thought he would have in this game, and he went to Armando Benitez. When Benitez struck out Erubiel Durazo, he earned the save in a game the Mets led 8-0 as the eighth inning began.

Game Notes: This is the first time the Mets have won three in a row since April 25. Robin Ventura was held out of the lineup with a sore hamstring, but he was brought into the game for defense on the final out.

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: Bobby Jones Is Back

One of the biggest keys to the 2000 season is the healthy and productivity of Bobby Jones. As we have already seen Dennis Springer and Bill Pulsipher just didn’t have it, and Pat Mahomes is not a viable fifth starter. That means the Mets absolutely need Jones to be a productive fifth starter.

Jones came off the DL to start this game against the Diamondbacks, and for the first time this season, or even for the first time since early 1999, we got a sense Jones can be a viable fifth starter for this club.

What made this start truly impressive wasn’t just the fact he out-dueled Todd Stottlemyre, who entered this game with a 7-1 record, it was the fact, this was not easy. In fact, the Diamondbacks would be successful in seven of their eight stolen base attempts. That’s not a typo. The Diamondbacks stole seven bases off of the combination of Jones and Mike Piazza.

Hearing that, you’d be shocked to hear Jones and Piazza were the difference in this game.

In the second, Stottlemeyer hit a two RBI single giving the Diamondbacks a 2-0 lead. Those runs were set up by Travis Lee stealing two bases in the inning, and Damian Miller stealing one. The Mets would those runs back in the fourth.

Todd Zeile hit a one out double after a Robin Ventura single. Zeile came in to score on a Mark Johnson RBI ground out. Rey Ordonez followed with an RBI single to tie up the game.

The Diamondbacks got the lead right back, and once again, it was Stottlemeyer at the forefront with a lead-off double against Jones. He’d move to third on a Jay Bell single, and he would score on a Luis Gonzalez sacrifice fly. That lead would again be very short lived for the Diamondbacks.

After a Derek Bell one out single, Piazza would come up with two outs. In a way it seems only Piazza can, he completely changed the course of the game with a monster home run to left giving the Mets a 4-3 lead. This time, the Mets had the lead, and unlike the Diamondbacks, they would not relinquish it.

In his final inning of work, Jones pitched a 1-2-3 inning, and he gave the ball to the Mets bullpen, who did the job with the help of the defense.

With the 4-3 lead and the suspect defensive outfield in place, Bobby Valentine began his defensive substitutions. Turk Wendell was double switched into the game with Jon Nunnally moving to left. Jay Payton also came into the game to take over center from McEwing.

The speedy Tony Womack would hit a two out single against Wendell, and then he was off for the races on a Bell double. The Valentine defensive substitutions immediately paid dividends as Nunnally got to the ball quickly and fired a relay throw to Ordonez. Ordonez made a strong one hop throw home, which Piazza not only nabbed, but he was also able to get the tag down to preserve the one run lead.

Over the final two innings, both teams would trade rallies which came up just short. For the Mets, both John Franco and Armando Benitez bent, but they did not break. In both of their innings, there was a runner in scorign position due to a stolen base, but they did what they needed to do to preserve the Mets victory.

Suddenly, things look good for the Mets again who have won two straight and are back to two games over .500. The hope now is they can go on a similar run to what they had last year to get back into contention and give the Atlanta Braves a run for their money.

Game Notes: Bell has a nine game hitting streak. Mike Hampton will be moved up to pitch in Glendon Rusch‘s place. After being benched again, this time in place of Johnson, Payton intimated he may be better suited to playing somewhere else.

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: This Is The Mike Hampton The Mets Traded For

When the Mets sent Roger Cedeno and Octavio Dotel to the Houston Astros, they did so thinking they were getting an ace in return, the type of ace who could take this Mets team over the top and help them win the World Series. Over the first month of the season, Mike Hampton was definitively not that.

For the second straight start, Hampton has shown himself to be the ace the Mets hoped he would be. Part of being an ace is being a stopper who comes up with big time pitching performances when the team is struggling. Hampton did exactly that pitching a complete game against the Marlins. Really, he did it all.

After five-and-a-half scoreless innings, Hampton, who nearly hit a walk-off homer yesterday, dropped a perfect bunt down to start a one out rally. He would then score on Joe McEwing‘s RBI double.

It should be noted McEwing got the first crack at replacing Rickey Henderson batting lead-off and playing left. McEwing would look nothing like Henderson out there, which is to say, he played defense and hustled. For example, in the first, Hampton was in trouble allowing the first three batters batters to reach via single.

On the third single by Kevin Millar, McEwing charged hard and came up throwing. His aggressive defense led to the Marlins holding Mark Kotsay at third where he would stay after a Preston Wilson strike out and Derek Lee GIDP.

The Mets were up 1-0 after McEwing’s double, but they were not done there. On McEwing’s double, the throw from Danny Bautista got away allowing McEwing to go to third. Brad Penny would walk Derek Bell, and then on the second pitch of the at-bat to Edgardo Alfonzo, Bell stole second. That’s where you saw one of the most bizarre decisions you will ever see. Marlins manager John Boles ordered Alfonzo be intentionally walked in front of Mike Piazza.

No one is going to deny Alfonzo is clutch and a great hitter, but intentionally walked Alfonzo after a 2-0 count to face a future Hall of Famer is beyond a dubious decision. Piazza would make the Marlins pay for their disrespect by hitting a grand slam to give the Mets a 5-0 lead.

That was all the help Hampton needed.

The Marlins couldn’t get anything going against Hampton until the eighth. In fact, after the three singles in the first, the Marlins didn’t get another hit until the eighth inning. The Marlins again had three straight singles to start an inning only this time, the third single would drive home a run. Hampton then recovered by getting the next three outs and retiring six of the last seven batters he faced.

Suddenly, the Mets are back to a game over .500, and things look the way the team drew them up before the season . . . even if those plans no longer call for Henderson leading off and playing left.

Game Notes: The Mets have replaced Henderson on the roster with Mark Johnson. He is wearing John Olerud‘s old number 5.

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: Hampton Finally Pitches Like Mets Ace

Well, the Mets got exactly what they needed. In an insane road trip apparently put together by someone who doesn’t own a map, the Mets finally got a day off. Rickey Henderson was back in the lineup putting his problems aside for a day. Finally, they got that well pitched effort from Mike Hampton after a Mets loss.

And the Mets needed this effort from Hampton. They needed it because they needed to get off the snide. They also needed it because Kris Benson was nearly equal to him today.

As an early practical matter, the Mets got their first hit out of the way early on an Edgardo Alfonzo infield single. That caused a bit of relief for a team who was just nearly no-hit by Ryan Dempster. There was more relief in the third when Derek Bell and Alfonzo hit back-to-back homers to give the Mets a 2-0 lead.

After that, there was no more scoring in what proved to be a 2-0 Mets victory in what proved to be a pitcher’s duel. While Benson was putting up zeros in seven of the eight innings he pitched, Hampton put up zeros in all 8.1 innings he pitched. However, just because Hampton didn’t allow a run doesn’t mean it was always easy. In fact, he needed to get a number of big outs.

In the second, Kevin Young singled and moved to second on a wild pitch. Hampton got the next to Pirates to ground out to preserve the tie. The biggest challenge came in the fifth when Young singled and Wil Cordero doubled to begin the inning.

Hampton first struck out Pat Meares. Then, with the infield drawn in, Robin Ventura fielded the Luis Sojo grounder, and he nailed Young at the plate. Hampton then escaped the jam by getting Benson to ground out. The Pirates could not get to Hampton again until the ninth.

In that ninth inning, Hampton allowed a lead-off single to Brian Giles, and then with one out, he plunked Cordero. That put the tying runs on base with one out. Despite his recent struggles, Bobby Valentine went to Armando Benitez to record the save.

Benitez would reward Valentine’s faith in him getting Meares to fly out before striking out John Vander Wal to end the game. With that, Benitez recorded his ninth save of the season, and mostly, the struggling Mets finally won a game. That was even better with Hampton playing the role of stopper like the team had hoped he would be when they obtained him this past offseason.

Game Notes: With the off day, the Mets are going to skip Bill Pulsipher‘s next start and move him to the bullpen. While the team may want to keep him there permanently, those plans may be encumbered by Rich Rodriguez‘s contract. Henderson was placed on outright waivers but said they have no intention of releasing him.

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: Giants Bull Rusched Glendon In Third

For a brief moment, it appeared tonight’s game was going to be different than yesterday. For starters, it was Glendon Rusch, who has been a revelation this year, on the mound instead of Bill Pulsipher. Better yet, the Mets offense seemed alive at the start of the game.

Edgardo Alfonzo would draw a two out walk, and he would come home on a Robin Ventura double. That gave the Mets a 1-0 lead over Livan Hernandez and the Giants. From that point forward, no Mets player would reach third base for the rest of the game.

The Mets would only muster seven more hits. When they did get the hits, they couldn’t do anything. For example, Rey Ordonez hit into an inning ending double play in the second. This was as poor a performance from the Mets offense you will see, and it looks all the worse with Hernandez entering the game with a 5.08 ERA. After his complete game victory, it is now down to 4.22.

With respect to Rusch, it seemed to be his typical start. Jeff Kent had tied the score with an RBI double in the first, but the rally ended there as he was thrown out trying to go to third on the play. Rusch settled in and made quick work of the Giants in the second and third. Unfortunately, the fourth was a nightmare for Rusch.

Rusch allowed a double to Barry Bonds to start the inning, and he moved to third on a Kent single. Russ Davis knocked in Bonds, and after Rusch hit J.T. Snow, the bases were loaded. It was 3-0 after a Rich Aurilia RBI single. At that point, it was 3-1 Giants marking the first time all season Rusch allowed more than two runs in a game. Then, Rusch allowed four runs in one at-bat when Bobby Estalella.

At that point, the game was effectively over. The Mets weren’t doing anything against Hernandez, and really, they have been ice cold in their two games since leaving Colorado. While Todd Pratt did a good Mike Piazza impersonation in Coors, he has struggled through two games in this series. Of course, part of the reason for that is hi knee issues.

While the game was lost, Rusch deserves a lot of credit. He bore down after that nightmare fourth, and he pitched two more innings to help save the Mets bullpen which has been showing some strain after a trip to Colorado and Pulsipher’s short start.

The Mets have now lost two in a row after beating up on the Rockies, and they have now lost five of their last seven. If nothing else, this does set the stage for Mike Hampton to step up and act the part of the Mets stopper for the first time to see if he can truly emerge as the team’s ace they hoped he would be.

Game Notes: Darryl Hamilton is opting for an alternative toe surgery which could cost him 1-2 months instead of the 2000 season. Rickey Henderson seemed to snap out of his slump going 2-for-4 getting himself over the Mendoza Line.

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 Might Lose Piazza

For some reason, the Mets were not given a travel day before flying almost across the country to play a day game in Coors Field. Anytime a team has to do that, they are at a disadvantage. That is all the more the case as the fatigued players have to deal with the thin air. That thin air is also a great disadvantage for pitchers.

Much like he has most of this season, Mike Hampton struggled in his start in Coors Field. While we can over-focus on that, fact is this is an environment ill-suited for Hampton and really any pitcher who toes the rubber.

With Hampton, it was once again the walks which got him into trouble. In the Rockies six run third, Hampton ignited a powder keg by walking Brian Hunter and Mike Lansing ahead of the heart of the Rockies order, and beginning with a Larry Walker two RBI triple, the Rockies would make him pay.

That Walker triple was the first of five straight Rockies hits. Four of those hits would go for extra bases including a Todd Helton RBI triple. Later in the fifth, Hampton’s last inning, the Mets defense did him no favors with Edgardo Alfonzo making a rare error leading to an unearned run.

That Alfonzo error turned out to be much worse than your typical error leading to an unearned run. On the play, Alfonzo was trying to nail Helton at the plate. His low throw led to Piazza putting down an awkward tag, losing the ball, and having to leave the game with an injured wrist.

Getting back to Hampton, this is Coors Field, but once again, there is question whether he is the ace the Mets thought they were getting. His final line in this game was 5.0 IP, 8 H, 7 R, 6 ER, 3 BB, 2 K. That’s not exactly awe inspiring, and notably, Pedro Astacio wasn’t having the same issues. To be fair, Astacio has called Coors home for two years now, and he wasn’t exactly great either.

The key difference is Astacio found his way out of jams. In the first, he got Todd Zeile to ground out to get out of a bases loaded jam. In the fifth, the Mets had the bases loaded with no outs, and Astacio was able to limit the damage by getting Jay Payton to hit into a double play. As a result, he exited the fifth with a 7-2 lead.

The Mets got a rally going again in the seventh. Robin Ventura and Zeile hit back-t0-back RBI singles, and Payton hit an RBI double. Astacio would then be relieved by Stan Belinda, and he would receive an ovation for allowing JUST five runs over 6.2 innings. Again, this is Coors Field.

That Mets rally was just too little too late. At that point, the game was out of reach, even by Coors Field standards, as Eric Cammack provided little relief allowing four runs in the sixth. After Rich Rodriguez allowed a run in the bottom of the eighth, the Mets would lose the game 12-5.

In the grand scheme of things, the Mets losing this game isn’t that big of a deal. The bigger issue and potential loss is Piazza. Fortunately, x-rays were negative. However, wrist injuries tend to linger, and no one really knows when Piazza can get back to being Piazza. If Piazza isn’t Piazza, there’s not telling what will happen to this Mets team who just started playing like contenders again.

Game Notes: Masato Yoshii, who the Mets traded to the Rockies in the offseason, is slated to pitch against his former team tomorrow. Notably, that trade not only gave the Mets both Bobby Jones and Bobby Jones, but it also meant Yoshii did not get to return to his native Japan as a Major League player.

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.