Rickey Henderson

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: A Giant Sweep

If we thought the Mets rebounded in Colorado after losing the final two games against the Reds to mar what was an otherwise perfect homestand, we might have been wrong. After leaving Colorado and facing what promises to be a better Giants team (at least from what we saw of them in April), the Mets just cannot beat these Giants.

For a moment, it did seem like the Mets had this one. Rick Reed was his typical brilliant self over the first seven innings. Aside from a Marvin Benard RBI double in the third, the Giants had real trouble getting to him. In fact, over those first seven innings, he had allowed just three hits. The one hit the Giants got between the fourth and seventh was erased on a double play.

Over those seven innings, the only thing which seemed to be an issue was whether the team would give him the run support he needed. Well, Reed would get that because Mike Piazza was back in the lineup. If there was any doubts after the collision in Colorado, Piazza is still Piazza.

With the Mets trailing 1-0 in the top of the sixth, Piazza launched a two run homer off of Kirk Rueter to give the Mets a 2-1 lead. Really, Piazza did it all for the Mets today. He was 3-for-4 with a double, homer, and two RBI. He even stole a base. On a day when no Mets player could reach, he had three of the Mets four hits, and he was in scoring position three different times. With no one else in the lineup able to muster anything, Piazza was stranded.

Entering the eighth, Reed had retired six in a row, and he had faced the minimum from the fourth inning on. He was under 100 pitches, and Bobby Valentine trusted his real ace. Unfortunately, Reed was done getting himself immediately into trouble issuing a lead-off walk to Armando Rios. Runners were soon at the corners with no outs after a Rich Aurilia single.

Reed rebounded by striking out Ellis Burks, but he could not escape unscathed. Felipe Crespo hit a game tying RBI single, and Valentine would bring in Dennis Cook to face the left-handed Benard. In retrospect, this proved to be a huge mistake.

Cook quickly unraveled. First, he balked putting runners at second and third with one out. Then, he plunked Benard to load the bases. After he plunked Benard, the two got into a war of words. This led to the second time in this series the benches would clear. Ultimately, it would led to the fourth time in this series the Mets would lose to the Giants.

Armando Benitez entered the game, and he just couldn’t get it done. First, Bill Mueller hit a bases clearing triple to give the Giants a 5-2 lead. Later that inning, Jeff Kent hit a two run homer. On that note, Kent just killed his former team in this series.

Overall, this was a 7-2 loss and an ugly four game sweep. In the sweep, the Mets battled some very questionable umpiring. They were bullied by the Giants. Mostly, they beat themselves time and again. Now, they at least get to go back to the East Coast and right the ship against a bad Marlins team.

Game Notes: Rickey Henderson was back in the starting lineup after his meeting with Steve Phillips. He responded well by drawing three walks and scoring in front of that Piazza homer. Derek Bell made his first start in center for the Mets. He later moved to right field.

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. 25 Pedro Feliciano

There is a real case to be made here for Bobby Bonilla as the best Mets player to wear the number 25. Through all of the negatives associated with him and his career, by wRC+, he is the Mets 10th best hitter. He was a two time All-Star in his first four year stint with the Mets. He did what the team needed him to do whether that was playing right field or third base.

No, Bonilla was never popular, and things go continually worse. There is far too much negative associated with him now whether it was him playing cards with Rickey Henderson during Game 6 of the 1999 NLCS or his deferred payments which are made to be an annual fiasco.

However, none of those reasons are why he wasn’t selected as the best Mets player to wear the number 25. No, the reason why he wasn’t selected was because Pedro Feliciano is the greatest LOOGY in Mets history.

Feliciano first came to the Mets in 2002 when they were looking for a taker for Shawn Estes. When Estes didn’t hit Roger Clemens and with the Mets having a terrible year, it was time to move on from him. Not quite knowing what they had in him, the Mets first waived Feliciano to make room on the 40 man roster only to sign him as a free agent after the Tigers first claimed then released him.

That began what was a very interesting subplot to Feliciano’s career. This was the first time in his career Feliciano left the Mets organization. He would do it again in 2005, 2011, and 2014. Despite that, in Feliciano’s nine year Major League career, he would only wear a Mets uniform.

In his first stint, he was a middling reliever who had to go to Japan to hone his craft. As noted by Michael Mayer of MMO, Feliciano altered his throwing program, and the smaller strike zone helping him hone is command. This improvement helped him secure a minor league deal to help him return to the Mets. Back with the Mets, he worked with Rick Peterson to drop his arm angle. From that point forward, he became a great LOOGY.

Arguably, that 2006 Mets bullpen was the best bullpen in team history. Notably, in a bullpen with Billy Wagner, Duaner Sanchez, Aaron Heilman, Chad Bradford, and Darren Oliver, it was Feliciano who led that bullpen in ERA+. He’d accomplish that feat with the Mets again in 2009.

In that 2006 season, left-handed batters would only hit .231/.272/.316 off of him. He’d strike out 44 left-handed batters while only walking five. That equates to him striking out a whopping 34.6% of left-handed batters that season. He would then get some big outs that postseason.

In Game 1 of the NLDS, he relieved John Maine in the fifth, and he struck out Kenny Lofton with runners on first and second with no outs. In Game 3, he retired Nomar Garciaparra with the bases loaded, and when the Mets took the lead in the top of the sixth, he would be the winner of the game clinching victory.

Overall, that postseason, Feliciano made six appearances, and he pitched to a 1.93 ERA. Ultimately, in that disappointing postseason which fell just one hit short of the World Series, Feliciano did his job. That was a theme for Feliciano, he came in and did his job.

Beginning in 2008, Feliciano would lead the league in appearances. He would lead the league in appearances in each of the ensuing two seasons. His constantly appearing in games led Gary Cohen to dub him Perpetual Pedro. He would be used so frequently, Feliciano would achieve the very rare feat of appearing in over 90 games in the 2010 season.

When making that 90th appearance, Feliciano became the first left-handed reliever in Major League history to appear in 90 games. When he broke the single-season mark for a left-handed reliever held by Steve Kline and Paul Quantrill.

In appearing in 92 games in 2010, he made more appearances over a two year span than any left-handed reliever in history. In fact, in Major League history, only Mike Marshall and Kent Tekulve have made more appearances in back-to-back seasons, and they did that in the 1970s.

Since the turn of the century, Feliciano is the only reliever to appear in 85+ games not only in two seasons in a row but three season in a row. In fact, from 2006 – 2010, Feliciano would appear in 19 more games than any other reliever, and he would appear in 50 more games than any other left-handed reliever.

Through it all, Feliciano would appear in 484 games as a member of the Mets. Only John Franco would appear in more games as a Mets reliever. Among Mets relievers, his .212 batting average against and .263 wOBA against left-handed batters is the best, and both are by significant margins.

Taking everything into account, Feliciano is the best LOOGY in Mets history, and it is by a very wide margin. When you are ultimately the best at what you do than anyone else in the 58 year history of your franchise, you should be considered the best to ever wear your number.

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
23. Bernard Gilkey
24. Art Shamsky

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: 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 24 Art Shamsky

Joan Payson, the original Mets owner, loved Willie Mays so much that not only did she have the Mets trade to get him in 1972, she unofficially retired the number. In fact, since Mays retired after the 1973 World Series, the number has only been worn by Kelvin Torve (who switched his number in-season), Rickey Henderson, and now Robinson Cano.

Beyond that group, there were Mets players who wore the number briefly. Ed Charles wore it for one season before switching to 5. Ken Boswell switched from that number to 12. Jim Beauchamp gave up his 24 to Mays. Then, there was Art Shamsky who wore it throughout his three year Mets career.

Shamsky first came to the Mets in the same offseason as Gil Hodges. Things could not have been worse for Shamsky. He was leaving a good Reds team who already had Tony Perez and Pete Rose, and he was going to what was the worst baseball franchise in the history of baseball.

In his first year with the Mets, he was little more than a league average hitter, but this was an improved Mets team who seemed to pull off the impossible by not losing 90 games for the first time in their history. To that end, things seemed to be improving for Shamsky and the Mets, but that was only momentary.

Shamsky hurt his back entering the 1969 season, and he started late. What he couldn’t have known at the time was he was about to embark on the best season of his life. That 1969 season would prove not only to be his most memorable but also his best individual season.

While being platooned with Ron Swoboda, Shamsky hit .300/.375/.488 with nine doubles, three triples, 14 homers, and 47 RBI in 100 games. Nearly each of those marks were a career best for him including the 139 OPS+. Included in those 47 RBI were game winners.

Where Shamsky would really shine that season was the postseason. In the NLCS against the Braves, he was a difficult out hitting .538 in the series. When he reached base in his final NLCS at-bat, that would be the final time he would reach base in that postseason. Even if he didn’t get another hit, that doesn’t mean he wouldn’t have an impact.

Never known for his defense, it was a terrific diving play. It was one of the miraculous diving defensive plays from the Mets in that series which helped them pull off the miracle that was the 1969 World Series. Like the rest of his teammates, he would become a World Series champion.

Shamsky would play two more years with the Mets after that 1969 World Series with him having another good year in 1970 before being released in 1971. Through his career, he is the 50th best Mets position player by WAR putting him ahead of any other Mets player who wore the number 24. Overall, even if legends like Mays and Henderson wore the number 24 with the Mets, it was Shamsky who was the best Mets player to wear that number.

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
23. Bernard Gilkey

2000 Game Recap: Mets Pound Rockies

At some level, we have to find out what the Coors Field pitching line equivalent is at a normal ballpark. On some level, it would seem that one run is equivalent to six runs. The reason for that conversation is while Rick Reed again pitched at least seven innings, he allowed more than one run in his start.

The Rockies set a season worst for runs scored against Reed when Larry Walker hit a two run homer in the bottom of the first. After that, Reed settled in, and he would pitch four consecutive scoreless innings. In that time, the Mets offense battered former teammate Masato Yoshii and the Rockies bullpen.

The Mets first tied the score in the second starting with back-to-back doubles from Robin Ventura and Todd Zeile. Zeile would later score on a Rey Ordonez RBI single. The Mets offense would then explode in the fourth inning.

The first big hit was a Jay Payton RBI triple. He would come to score on a Todd Pratt RBI single. This was the first of a career best four hits from Pratt who did a more than adequate job filling in for the injured Piazza. Overall, Pratt was 4-for-5 with a run, double, and an RBI.

Pratt and Edgardo Alfonzo were the two Mets with four hits. Derek Bell and Zeile would have three hit days, and every Mets player in the lineup would have at least one hit with the position players all getting two hits. In total, the Mets would accumulate a season high 23 hits.

After the Pratt RBI single, Reed would sacrifice him to second, and Rickey Henderson would walk. That chased Yoshii. It also turned out to be a mistake as Rich Croushore was not up to the task.

Croushore would walk Bell before issuing back-to-back walks to Alonzo and Ventura loading the bases. Bell singled, and Croushore walked the bases loaded again before giving up a Zeile RBI single. In total, it was a six run inning putting the Mets on their way to a 13-6 victory.

Reed showed no real ill effects of the palm injury which had cost him a start. Not only would he last the seven innings, but he would also have a base hit in addition to two sacrifice bunts. Not only did Reed get healthy and once again pitch like the Mets real ace, but the Mets offense also got healthy. As a result, this team snapped its three game losing streak.

Game Recap: Vance Wilson was called-up to back-up Todd Pratt with Mike Piazza dealing with a wrist injury. Eric Cammack was sent down to make room for Wilson on the roster. Piazza will not be doing on the DL. Ordonez made his fifth error 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.

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.