Pat Mahomes

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: Super Joe McEwing Vanquishes The Big Unit

At this point, the Diamondbacks must be wondering what they need to do to beat the Mets at Shea Stadium. Last year, they lost both games in the NLDS played at Shea. Yesterday, they couldn’t complete the comeback. Today, they couldn’t hold onto the lead.

Mostly, Randy Johnson has to wonder how does he get Joe McEwing out?

After the Diamondbacks staked Johnson with a first inning lead with a run off of Rick Reed, McEwing led off the bottom of the first with a double. He came home to score as Derek Bell and Edgardo Alfonzo followed his double with one of their own to give the Mets a 2-1 lead.

The Diamondbacks led off the third with three straight singles to tie the score. They then took a 3-2 lead when Jay Bell moved to third on an Erubiel Durazo fly ball and scored on a Steve Finley RBI groundout. Again, Johnson was given a one run lead, and again, he surrendered it in the bottom of the inning. This time, it was a Mike Piazza homer.

Both pitchers seemed to finally settle in after that with them both putting up a string of zeros. That was until Travis Lee hit a two run homer off of Reed in the top of the sixth.

For Reed, today, it was a mixed bag. On the one hand, this was the eighth time in nine starts, he had pitched at least seven innings. On the other, this is the fourth time over his last five starts he has allowed 4+ runs. Regardless of how you look at it, Reed at least kept his team in the game, and he gave them a chance to win.

In the seventh, the Mets would once again tie the score, and once again, it was McEwing torturing Johnson. With one out in the seventh, McEwing would hit a solo homer to pull the Mets within one.

In this game, McEwing was 3-for-4 with two doubles, a homer, three runs, a walk, and an RBI. He would also have a tough 12 pitch at-bat in the fifth before hitting his second double of the game. That is a great game no matter who is on the mound. When it is Johnson starting, it’s phenomenal.

Speaking of players who torture Johnson, Alfonzo was back at it. As we remember, he homered off Johnson in the NLDS. Today, he hit the first inning RBI double, and like McEwing, he would homer off of Johnson in the seventh. That would tie the score at five, and it would chase Johnson from the game.

Not enough can be said about the Mets offensive outburst against Johnson. The future Hall of Fame pitcher entered the game with a 0.97 ERA, and he had allowed just eight runs all season long. It took the Mets fewer than seven innings to almost double that total.

Dennis Cook would come in for Reed, and he would continue his poor start to the season. This time it was his allowing a homer to the left-handed hitting Steve Finley. With that homer, Cook’s season ERA is up to 6.16. Between his and Rich Rodriguez‘s struggles, the Mets simply do not have a reliable LOOGY in that bullpen right now.

Again, the Diamondbacks lead was very short-lived. Despite his sore thigh, Robin Ventura came into the game to pinch hit for Kurt Abbott with two outs in the eighth. He would tie the game with a pinch hit solo homer.

After Turk Wendell did his job retiring the side in order in the top of the ninth, it was time for some ninth inning heroics, and again it was McEwing at the forefront.

McEwing drew a walk against Byung-Hyun Kim, and he would steal second. That put him in position to score on the ensuing Bell game winning walk-off RBI single.

Simply put, this was a great win. The Mets faced a future Hall of Fame pitcher, and they put up the runs they needed. They took advantage of every opportunity. They got a huge performance from a utility player who began the year in the minors, and they had an injured player hit a game tying homer. This is exactly what very good teams do.

Game Notes: This was just Ventura’s second pinch hit homer of his career. It was also the second pinch hit homer the Mets had this year with Agbayani hitting one in Tokyo. Both Pat Mahomes and John Franco are dealing with sore ankles.

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 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: 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 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: Reed And Mahomes Pillaged By Pirates

For a moment, this seemed like an easy win for the Mets. The game was tied 1-1 in the third inning when the Mets offense exploded against Pirates starter Todd Ritchie.

Mets starter Rick Reed was hit by a pitch, and Rickey Henderson walked. They would both score on a two out RBI double by Edgardo Alfonzo. After the Alfonzo double, Mike Piazza and Robin Ventura went back-to-back. In that five run inning, the Mets went ahead 5-1, and they had Reed, who has been their ace this season, on the mound.

Unfortunately, Reed just did not have it today.The same pitcher who began the season with a streak of seven inning starts allowing two or fewer runs just could not keep the Pirates off of the board.

In the second, it was a Kevin Young homer. In the fourth, it was a Pat Meares RBI triple. In the fifth, it was an Adrian Brown lead-off triple setting up his scoring on a Warren Morris RBI ground out. Suddenly, that Mets 6-1 commanding lead was a closer 6-3 game. Even with his struggles on the day, Bobby Valentine still sent Reed out for the sixth. He wouldn’t be out there for long.

Reed allowed three hits to start the sixth including a two run Wil Cordero homer. With a man on and no outs, Turk Wendell entered the game. First, he balked the runner to second, and then he would allow a Brown RBI double. At that point, the game was tied 6-6.

If you were the Mets, you still had to have faith you were going to win this game. After all, the Mets are the better team with the better bullpen. Maybe, that was a bit of hubris because with the way the Mets are playing right now they are not better than anyone. The Pirates would prove that point.

The Mets entered the bottom of the seventh with a 7-6 lead after a Todd Zeile RBI double in the top half of the inning. That rally ended when Ventura tried to score on a ball which did not get far enough away from Jason Kendall.

In the bottom of the seventh, Dennis Cook put the first two batters on, and Valentine brought in Pat Mahomes. Like Reed, Mahomes has been great for the Mets this year. Like Reed, Mahomes just didn’t have it allowing five straights, including an RBI double by John Vander Wal. Suddenly, a Mets 6-1 and 7-6 lead became an 11-7 deficit.

To their credit, the Mets did not go down without a fight. In the eighth, they had second and third with two outs, and Alfonzo would score on a Mike Garcia wild pitch. In the ninth, they had the bases loaded with one out, and they would score a run on a Jay Payton sacrifice fly.

However, it just wasn’t enough. Part of the reason is John Franco allowed to a two RBI double in the eighth. All told, it was a 13-9 Mets loss. This loss was bad not only because the Mets blew a big lead against a bad team, but it was worse because the pitchers the Mets thought they could rely upon all season failed them in this spot. They’re now lost seven of their last nine and are now just one game above .500. With the way things are going, they may be at .500 tomorrow.

Game Notes: With his double, Zeile snapped an o-for-18 streak. Like Henderson earlier in the week, Rich Rodriguez was put on waivers. The Mets are looking to move Bill Pulsipher to the bullpen, but they claim they first need to move Rodriguez to do it.

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: Leiter Stopper For Reeling Mets

The Mets were reeling after getting swept in a four game set against the San Francisco Giants, and they had to make a cross country flight. This is as difficult a situation a team can face to begin a three game set. Fortunately, waiting for the Mets was a very bad Marlins team.

The Mets offense mostly stymied in San Francisco went to work immediately as Rickey Henderson got on via a walk, got over, and finally scored on an Edgardo Alfonzo sacrifice fly. That lead grew to 2-0 when Rey Ordonez hit a second inning RBI double.

The Marlins did get one of those runs back in the bottom of the second when Mike Redmond singled home Alex Gonzalez. But, that was it for the Marlins as Leiter would allow just two more hits the entire game. However, it wasn’t all easy.

Leiter got himself into trouble in his final two innings on the mound. In the sixth, he allowed a lead-off walk to Luis Castillo, and he’d walk two batters to load the bases with just one out. He then reached deep down to strike out Mike Lowell and Derek Lee to end the inning.

In the seventh, there runners at first and second with one out after a Redmond double and Mark Smith walk. Leiter got Castillo to fly out before striking out Mark Kotsay to end the inning. That last strikeout was Leiter’s ninth of the game.

At that point, Leiter was done for the game, and the Mets were up 3-1 as Mike Piazza hit a fourth inning solo homer against Jesus Sanchez. That was an interesting side note.

With the Mets series of trades with the Marlins during the Marlins post-1997 World Series fire sale, we got to see many former Mets against many former Marlins. For example, Preston Wilson was one of the centerpieces in the Piazza trade. Also, Sanchez was one of the key pieces in the Leiter trade. Today, Leiter out-dueled Sanchez to beat his former team.

That Mets lead grew to 3-1 when Braden Looper got wild in the eighth walking the bases loaded. Armando Almanza relieved Looper, and he walked Robin Ventura to force in a run. With the three run lead, Bobby Valentine turned to John Franco to get his first save of the year. Franco pitched a 1-2-3 inning to earn his first save since losing the closer job due Armando Benitez preserving the 4-1 victory.

Game Notes: This was Franco’s first save since June 24, 1999. Alfonzo was banged up but played, and Turk Wendell missed the game with a slightly sprained ankle after he kicked a water cooler in San Francisco. This led to Pat Mahomes pitching in a set-up role.

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: Generation KO’d

Going from Coors Field to PacBell is like traveling into another dimension. At Coors, check swings go for 500 foot homers, and at PacBell, you could hit a ball harder than anyone has ever hit in the history of baseball, and it would die on the warning track. A bit of hyperbole for sure, but it does underscore just how completely different these two NL West parks are.

As bizarre as that travel was, it might’ve been equally bizarre seeing Bill Pulsipher on the mound for the Mets again.

With Bobby Jones on the DL, Dennis Springer‘s ineffectiveness, and the heavy use of the bullpen, Pat Mahomes included, the Mets opted to give the ball to a member of Generation K. For a brief moment during 13 pitch 1-2-3 first inning, it seemed like Pulsipher might surprise us all and pitch like the pitcher we all expected him to be.

Then, in the second, Pulsipher’s former teammate, Jeff Kent homered off of him to begin the second. Yes, that is how long ago there was hope and hype around Generation K. Kent was the everyday second baseman for the Mets. While Pulsipher settled down, it all fell apart in the third.

The only out Pulsipher recorded in that inning was on a Felipe Crespo sacrifice bunt. Otherwise, he walked three batters, hit another, and allowed two singles. In the end, he lasted just 3.1 innings allowing four runs on three hits. Things could’ve been worse, but Mahomes got him out of the jam.

While things didn’t get worse for Pulsipher, things got worse for the Mets. Todd Pratt hurt his knee during that third inning rally when J.T. Snow slid home on a Calvin Murray fielder’s choice. Todd Zeile got the ball home in time, but there was no double play attempt with Snow coming in hard.

Pratt took exception and started jawing at Snow. The benches cleared, but no punches were thrown. While Pratt was hobbled, the Mets had little choice but to leave him in the game. Mike Piazza is still dealing with the wrist/elbow issues from his own home plate collision in Colorado, and the Mets sent down Vance Wilson to allow them to call up Pulsipher for the start.

For seemingly his first time as a Met, Mahomes didn’t quite have it allowing two in the fifth to balloon the Giants lead to 6-0. Things devolved from there when the Mets went to Rich Rodriguez. Rodriguez just hasn’t been all the good this year being largely miscast in a long man/mop-up role. Today was no different, and he would have the indignity of being the first ever pitcher to allow a splash down homer at PacBell.

Overall, this was just an ugly 10-3 loss with the Mets offense being dominated by Shawn Estes. There was a brief moment in the second where the Mets could have made this a game against him, but Rey Ordonez lined into a double play stranding Jay Payton and Pratt.

The Mets wouldn’t do anything against Estes again until the seventh when Zeile homered, but at that point it was 9-1.

In the end, if you’re looking at bright spots, Edgardo Alfonzo remained red hot going 3-for-4 with an RBI. In fact, Fonzie would have three of the Mets seven hits. Another bright note was Payton robbing Bill Mueller of a homer in the third. Other than that, this was just about as bad for the Mets as you could imagine.

Game Notes: This was the Mets first game at PacBell. At Candlestick, the Mets were 104-139 (.428). Rickey Henderson is mired in a deep slump. Over his last six games, he is just 2-for-16, and he is hitting just .194 on 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.

Best Mets Of All Time: No. 23 Bernard Gilkey

With 34 different Mets players wearing the number 23, it is one of the more popular player numbers in Mets team history. When you think of the number, you are reminded of how great Pat Mahomes was out of the Mets bullpen in 1999, Mike Baxter‘s catch saving Johan Santana‘s no-hitter, and Bernard Gilkey.

Entering the 1996 season, the St. Louis Cardinals no longer had room on their roster for Gilkey, the hometown kid. He was squeezed out by other outfielders making Gilkey an expensive back-up for a team looking to free up money to address other needs. He was a player entering his prime, which made him all the more enticing for a Mets team looking to turn their franchise around.

While Gilkey could be expected to be an improvement over Joe Orsulak, and a significant one at that, no one could be really prepared for the absolutely great season Gilkey had in store for the Mets in 1996.

That 1996 season was marked by a number of offensive records compiled by the trio of Gilkey, Todd Hundley, and Lance Johnson. Believe it or not, there were eight separate single-season records set that year, and even to this date, the feats accomplished in that season remain in the Mets single-season top 10 lists.

We would get a sense of how special a year it would be from the Mets new lineup when Hundley and Gilkey homered on Opening Day against Gilkey’s former team. That was the first RBI in 117 total for the season. That would tie Howard Johnson for the Mets then single-season record.

Overall, he would hit .317/.393/.562 with 44 doubles, three triples, 30 homers, and 117 RBI. Those were great numbers which were part of his season long onslaught of the Mets record books.

In addition to the RBI title, he would have the second highest SLG and OPS. He finished just behind his teammate Johnson for the most total bases in a season. His OPS+ was fourth best. His 44 doubles still remains a team record, and his extra base hits were then second only to HoJo.

When all was said and done, Gilkey’s 8.1 WAR would be the best season a Mets position player ever had. Really, it obliterated the record with Cleon Jones‘ 7.0 in 1969 being second. That mark would only be passed in future years by David Wright and Carlos Beltran.

For some reason, Gilkey didn’t make the All-Star team that year even though he was the second best player in the National League that year. Despite that, Gilkey still received some notoriety not just for his hitting prowess, but also for how wide his eyes opened when he saw a pitch he could drive somewhere. That would actually lead to him getting a memorable cameo in the summer blockbuster Men in Black.

Gilkey would not be able to replicate his 1996 success, but then again, there are very people in Major League history who could. Still, Gilkey was an important player for the Mets who did help take them from their last 90+ loss season in the aftermath of the great 1980s Mets teams to the next era of winning Mets baseball.

Even though he never replicated that success. Gilkey had some real big moments during the 1997 season. One of the big moments came in the first ever Subway Series. With his first inning double off of Andy Pettitte, Gilkey became the first ever player to record a hit in a regular season game between the Mets and Yankees. When John Olerud doubled, he scored the first ever run. Thanks to Dave Mlicki, it would prove to be the game winning run.

On the following day, even though the Mets lost, his homer off of David Wells would be the first homer in the Subway Series.

This was part of a fun and surprising year where the Mets won 88 games. They would be in the pennant race late in the season. Late in that season, Gilkey would hit a pinch hit three run homer to give the Mets a late season win to keep them alive in the Wild Card race:

While the Mets fell short that season, Gilkey did all he could do to power the Mets into that 1997 postseason. In fact, he would hit .329/.404/.600. Still, the Mets could not catch the Braves or the eventual World Series Champion Marlins that year.

Unfortunately for Gilkey, he struggled in 1998. Those struggles were partially related to a vision issue, and those issues eventually led to the Mets trading him to the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Gilkey’s Mets career lasted just short of three full seasons. Still, in that timeframe, he was an impactful player. He had an all-time great season in 1996. He forever etched his name in the Subway Series record books. Finally, he helped turn the Mets from a 90 loss team to a postseason contender. For his efforts, he is actually the Mets fourth best LF by WAR, and he is the best Mets player to ever wear the number 23.

Previous

1.Mookie Wilson
2.Mackey Sasser
3. Curtis Granderson
4. Lenny Dykstra
5. David Wright
6. Wally Backman
7. Jose Reyes
8. Gary Carter

9. Todd Hundley
10. Rey Ordonez
11. Wayne Garrett
12. John Stearns

13. Edgardo Alfonzo
14. Gil Hodges
15. Carlos Beltran

16. Dwight Gooden
17. Keith Hernandez
18. Darryl Strawberry

19. Bob Ojeda
20. Howard Johnson
21. Cleon Jones
22. Al Leiter