Turk Wendell

Taijuan Walker Should Get Opening Day Start

No one remotely expected the New York Mets to be scrambling for an Opening Day starter, and yet, here we are. The season opens Thursday, and we still don’t know who will pitch.

Jacob deGrom suffered a stress reaction in his scapula. Max Scherzer has a hamstring issue. Now, we’re hearing Buck Showalter is debating a bullpen day.

If the Mets go with the injury replacement, the nod could go to Tylor Megill. With all due respect to Megill who surprised last season, he shouldn’t be getting the nod. He’s hasn’t earned it, not yet.

Looking at the Mets roster, you could argue the one who has earned the spot, the moment, is Taijuan Walker.

Walker came to the Mets last season partially because no one wanted him. That’s not hyperbole. The Mets were literally the only team who offered him a contract, and it was at the beginning of Spring Training.

It was another low moment in his career. Walker went from a top 100 prospect to dealing with a number of injuries stunting his promising career. Case-in-point, he pitched 18.0 innings total between the 2018 and 2019 seasons.

He appeared to put that all behind him in the 2020 pandemic season. Despite that, the Mets were the only ones who wanted Walker, and he rewarded the team for their trust in him.

Walker immediately embraced being a Met. He opted for the number 99 rather than repeat the mistake Tony Clark made in taking away Mr. Met’s 00. He’d graciously accept a keep the shark tooth necklace from Turk Wendell, the only other Met to wear 99:

More than that, Walker performed. He would be the Mets only All-Star in 2021 (injury replacement for deGrom). He was more than deserving as he was one of the best pitchers in baseball in the first half.

With his velocity and movement back, he posted the 12th highest first half WAR. He was 10th best by FIP. All-in-all, he was who we once thought he would be.

Then, he’d hit a wall. That’s to be expected from a pitcher who threw 67.1 innings over a three year span. Notably for Walker, he didn’t taper off until he hit the 95 inning mark.

Still, for a Mets team who had starters falling left and right, Walker made 30 starts (technically 29). He gave this team his all, and he’d be an All-Star.

Walker has already overcome so much in his career. He came to New York and became an All-Star. Now, with the injuries to deGrom and Scherzer, he’s the one who should get the Opening Day start.

RIP Jeff Innis

If you were not around to watch New York Mets baseball in the early 1990s, you missed out on Jeff Innis. You missed out on the career of one of the best middle relievers in Mets history.

Really, the side-winding submariner Innis was the epitome of a middle reliever. He was so much so, he set records of which many are unaware.

In 1992, he was the Mets rankings for most relief appearances in a season. His mark of 76 appearances would set the Mets record for appearances in a season. The previous mark was when Innis made 69 appearances in 1991.

Keep in mind, many of Innis appearances lasted more than an inning. For example, 31 of his 76 appearances in 1992 were over an inning. That’s just the type of reliever he was. He took the ball as often as needed and gave the team all he could give and likely much more.

During that time, Innis set the Major League record for appearances with recording a win or save. That streak of 60 appearances ended when he got the Opening Day win in 1992.

He wouldn’t set another record for appearances in 1993. Instead, he’d settle for what was then third all-time with 67. After that 1993 season, Innis’ Major League career was over.

Innis walked off the field a winner. He pitched the final two innings of the last game of the season to wrap up the Mets 7-1 win over the expansion Florida Marlins.

He would spend his entire seven year career with the Mets. In his career, he was 10-20 with a 3.05 ERA, five saves, and a 1.272 WHIP. Impressively, he had a 120 ERA+.

After Innis left the Mets, everything changed.

We’d see a World Series be canceled due to a strike. There was the ensuing steroid era and all the other little and big scandals along the way.

Mostly, relievers were used differently and much more frequently. Now, we even see relievers starting games. From there, Innis began to fade from memory.

In 1999, Turk Wendell and Armando Benitez topped his appearances record. Benitez would tie his mark in 2000 with Wendell surpassing him again. We’d eventually see other Mets surpass Innis with the late Pedro Feliciano now being the Mets reliever with the top three single season appearance records.

Sadly, like Feliciano, Innis has passed away young. The Mets have lost two sidewinding and durable relievers who had made an indelible mark on Mets history.

Indeed, Innis is still in the Mets record books. He’s ninth all-time for relief appearances and 13th all-time for games finished.

More than that, there’s the memories from the fans. For me, in addition to seeing him nearly everyday for that three year stretch, my dad taught me to keep score at Shea Stadium in Mets Magazine with Innis on the cover.

Innis made an indelible mark on Mets history. More importantly, he resonated with Mets fans. While he’s gone, he will never be forgotten.

Noah Syndergaard, Jeurys Familia Poised To Make Mets History

Tom Seaver did something unique in New York Mets history. When he took the field for player introductions before Game 1 of the 1986 World Series, he became the first pitcher to stand on the field for three separate Mets postseason games.

Of course, Seaver was wearing a Boston Red Sox uniform, and he never did pitch in that series. To date, no Mets pitcher has pitched in three separate postseasons for the Mets . . . yet.

Back in 2015, Noah Syndergaard and Jeurys Familia were big pieces of a Mets pitching staff which not only led the team to the postseason but also a pennant. They’d join Addison Reed as the only members of that 2015 staff to pitch in the ensuing postseason when the Mets lost the Wild Card Game.

That trio joined a number of the 1999-2000 Mets pitchers to pitch in consecutive postseason. That list included Armando Benitez, Dennis Cook, John Franco, Al Leiter, Rick Reed, and Turk Wendell.

They are just part of a group of Mets pitchers to pitch in multiple postseasons. The other pitchers in that group are Rick Aguilera, Ron Darling, Sid Fernandez, Dwight Gooden, Jerry Koosman, Roger McDowell, Tug McGraw, and Seaver.

That’s a total of 17 pitchers who have appeared in two postseasons for the Mets. However, none have appeared in three.

If Syndergaard can return from Tommy John, and Familia can stay healthy and productive, they’re going to get that chance because this is an excellent Mets team. This is a team which should get there, and maybe this time Syndergaard and Familia can celebrate a World Series.

After that, with both being pending free agents, the question will be whether they’ll get the opportunity to get to pitch in a fourth postseason. Time will tell.

2000 Game Recap: Mets Homers Provide Enough Cushion For Leaky Bullpen

Well, in this three game series, it appears as if getting a 2-0 lead was a death knell. To that end, it seems fortunate Glendon Rusch walked the first batter of the game before allowing RBI singles to Bobby Abreu and Mike Lieberthal to give the Mets a 2-0 deficit before they ever came up to the plate.

The Mets got one of those runs back when Derek Bell hit a homer off of Cliff Politte in the bottom of the first. It was a much needed hit for Bell who was mired in a real 12-for-88 stretch (.136) at the same time Benny Agbayani and Jay Payton have taken off at the plate.

Just like the Mets did in the first two games of this series, after scoring their first run of the game, their offense went dormant. After Bell’s homer, Politte would retire the next eight Mets in a row. The Mets would get things started again in the fourth when they loaded the bases with two outs, but Todd Zeile struck out to end the inning.

The Mets couldn’t cash in on rallies in this game, but the one thing they were able to do was hit the long ball. In the fifth, Melvin Mora tied the game on a solo homer, and then in the sixth, Payton hit a two run homer to give the Mets a 4-1 lead.

During this time, Rusch had settled in and gone to work after that tough 36 pitch first inning. In the fourth, he got out of jam with runners on first and second with two outs by getting Politte to pop out. In the seventh, he fought through a Robin Ventura error allowing the lead-off batter to reach. Through it all, Rusch pitched seven strong innings allowing just the two earned runs from the first inning while allowing seven hits and one walk. He would also strike out seven.

Rusch was lifted for the pinch hitter Lenny Harris, who hit a one out double. He’d come around to score later that inning on a two out RBI single by Bell. Little did we know it at the time, but the Mets would need that run.

While the Mets bullpen has been leaky of late, Turk Wendell has been good. He had not allowed a run over his last three appearances, and he had allowed runs once over his last eight appearances. Today, he was not good at all, and he nearly blew the game.

The top of the eighth started with a Scott Rolen homer. After that, Wendell walked Lieberthal, and Lieberthal went to second on a Todd Pratt passed ball. Pat Burrell, who at least didn’t homer today, reached safely on Ventura’s second error of the game. Kevin Jordan hit a sacrifice fly pulling the Phillies to within 5-4. Fortunately, Wendell retired Kevin Sefcik to get out of the inning.

Things were not nearly as eventful in the ninth. Beginning his second inning of work, Wendell retired Doug Glanville and Ron Gant. Bobby Valentine then brought in Dennis Cook to get the left-handed Abreu to end the game. With that, Cook had his first save of the season, and the Mets avoided the sweep.

Game Notes: After his time working on things in Triple-A, Bobby Jones is slated to make his next start against the Pittsburgh Pirates. Darryl Hamilton will start his rehab assignment next week. Armando Benitez called Mets fans dumb for booing John Franco yesterday, and he accused Mets fans of only wanting to see the bad. With his two errors today, Ventura passed his error total for all of last season.

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

2000 Game Recap: Rookie Pat Burrell Becoming A Mets Killer

Starting with Mike Piazza hitting a first inning two run homer off of Curt Schilling scoring Edgardo Alfonzo to give the Mets a 2-0 lead, this game had a bit of an ugly deja vu feeling to their frustrating loss to the Phillies yesterday.

Part of that deja vu was Pat Burrell being the Phillies big bat leading the assault. The other part was a ninth inning meltdown by the Mets bullpen.

After two, the Mets had a 3-0 lead with Jason Tyner hitting an RBI ground out scoring Jay Payton in the second. Al Leiter would surrender that 3-0 lead in the third with two of the three runs being unearned.

With one out, Robin Ventura made a rare error allowing Doug Glanville to reach safely. After that, the Phillies would load the bases. Mike Lieberthal hit a two run double, and then Kevin Jordan hit a sacrifice fly tying the game at 3-3.

After the score was tied, Schilling had begun making quick work of the Mets lineup. Starting with the second inning, Schilling retired nine in a row. After Schilling retired Tyner to lead off the fifth, Leiter and Melvin Mora would hit a back-to-back singles, but the Mets could not push a run across.

That immediately came back to haunt the Mets with Burrell leading off the sixth with a homer. In the seventh, it was Ron Gant homering against Leiter to give the Phillies a 5-3 lead. When Scott Rolen followed the Gant homer with a single, Bobby Valentine lifted Leiter for Turk Wendell.

You could argue Leiter deserved better on the day. Through his 6.1 innings, he had allowed five runs with only three of them earned. He would walk three while striking out seven. However, that third inning rally was exacerbated by Leiter, and he didn’t get the big out he needed.

Fortunately for Leiter, the Mets would get him off the hook. Chris Brock came out of the Phillies bullpen in the eighth, and he was greeted immediately with back-to-back singles by Derek Bell and Alfonzo. After Alfonzo stole second and Piazza struck out, there was runners on second and third with one out. Ventura delivered and atoned for the two unearned runs resulting from his error with a two RBI single tying the game.

The Mets had the chance to take the lead but squandered it. Todd Zeile followed Ventura’s RBI single with a single of his own. The rally ended there as Payton struck out, and Tyner grounded out to end the inning. Much like in the sixth, the Mets would immediately regret wasting this chance.

John Franco had nothing. He was pitching for the second straight game and third time over a four day span. Perhaps, he was just tired. Whatever the case, he imploded.

After a Gant double, there were runners on second and third with no outs. After Franco struck out Scott Rolen, Lieberthal, who is a Mets killer, was walked to load the bases and set up a potential double play. That double play never happened.

Franco walked Jordan to force home a run. Then, Valentine brought in Benitez to pitch to Burrell. Benitez was tired himself. He had pitched over an inning yesterday and threw 33 pitches. On the fifth pitch to Burrell, Burrell got Benitez again this time hitting a grand slam to put the Phillies up 10-5.

With the Mets going down 1-2-3 in the ninth, they yet again had wasted a good pitching performance, and they were unable to overcome the failures of Benitez. Worse yet, it seems as if the rookie Pat Burrell is starting to become a Mets killer.

Game Notes: Piazza is currently riding an 11 game hitting streak. Rey Ordonez has been officially ruled out for the rest of the year leaving the Mets to ride with Melvin Mora and Kurt Abbott at shortstop until they decided to obtain one in a trade.

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

2000 Game Recap: Mets Make Rusch Hard Luck Loser Again

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2000 Game Recap: Mets Beat Cubs And Rain

With Mike Hampton only pitching two innings against the Yankees on Sunday before the game was washed out, the Mets opted to bring back their ace on short rest. After Hampton allowed one run in the first inning on an Mark Grace RBI single, the rains came, and once again, Hampton’s day was done.

This would be the first of three rain delays. To put it in perspective, the actual game play was three hours and 40 minutes, but the rain delays were three hours and 23 minutes. All told, this was an over seven hour day at the ballpark.

While the skies had brought the rain, the Mets lineup had brought the thunder hitting four homers in the game. The first of which was a Robin Ventura homer off of Scott Downs to being the second inning. The Mets bats would then go silent until the fourth. At that point, they were down 2-1 with Augie Ojeda hitting a solo homer off of Pat Mahomes.

In the fourth, there were runners at the corners and one out when Benny Agbayani tied the score on a sacrifice fly. That lead would be very short lived. Even though he was not scheduled to pitch today, with the rain delays, the Mets opted to go with Glendon Rusch to start the fourth. Apparently, he was not quite warmed up enough.

Chad Meyers doubled off of him, and Ojeda walked. Both runners moved up on a Daniel Garibay sacrifice bunt. Myers scored off of a Eric Young Sr. sacrifice fly, and Ojeda scored off of a Joe Girardi RBI single. That gave the Cubs a 4-2 lead.

The second of the Mets four homers came in the fifth as Mike Piazza launched a two run homer tying the game at 4-4. The Mets would double their four runs with a big sixth inning.

The inning began with a Jay Payton double. There would be runners on first and second after Todd Pratt reached on a Grace error. Kurt Abbott, who was the goat yesterday, came up big hitting a go-ahead RBI double. Melvin Mora followed with an RBI double of his own. Piazza capped off that rally with an RBI single increasing the Mets lead to 8-4.

With the way this game was going, it was far from over.

After Agbayani homered in the seventh, the Cubs made a comback in the bottom half of the inning. After a Grace double off of Turk Wendell, there were runners on second and third with one out. Sammy Sosa then scored on a Glenallen Hill RBI single. Wendell was almost out of the inning before issuing a two out walk to Gary Matthews to load the bases.

Dennis Cook came on to relieve Wendell to move the switch hitting Ojeda to the right side. Cook struggled in the seventh as he has done much of the season allowing RBI singles to Ojeda and Willie Greene. After Cook walked Eric Young Sr. to re-load the bases, Bobby Valentine brought in John Franco, who retired Girardi to get the Mets out of the inning with a 9-8 lead.

That led grew to 10-8 when Agbayani hit his second homer of the game in the top of the ninth. That was more than enough of a cushion for Armando Benitez who mowed down the Cubs in the bottom of the ninth earning his 16th save of the season with Rusch earning the win in relief.

This was a very long game which was made even longer by the rain delays. Still, the Mets fought through the sloppiness which accompanies games like this. That makes the flight out of Chicago a little easier than it would have been otherwise.

Game Notes: One of the reasons Hampton left the game was he is dealing with a strained groin. Edgardo Alfonzo was given the day off with a stiff back. The Mets are rumored to be in on Sosa and Juan Gonzalez, but according to rumors, they are not willing to part with top prospects Alex Escobar or Grant Roberts. Bobby Jones went down to Triple-A Norfolk to work on things.

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 Throw One Away

This is a game the Mets are going to want to get back. After having a 3-1 lead through four-and-a-half innings, they blew that lead, and then they effectively game this game away to the Cubs.

Through the first four, it was 1-1 with both Rick Reed and Kevin Tapani dealing. With respect to Reed it was a sight for sore eyes. Early in the season, Reed was pitching like the team’s ace. However, he has been nicked up a bit lately, and he has struggled with a 7.00 ERA over his last five starts.

After Sammy Sosa and Mark Grace got to him with back-to-back doubles in the first, he retired 11 of the next 13 Cubs with no one reaching scoring position. While Reed was shutting down the Cubs, the Mets were working on getting him a lead.

The Mets tied the game in the second. With runners on second and third after a Robin Ventura walk and Todd Zeile double, Jason Tyner hit a sacrifice fly to tie the game. The rally ended there with Reed striking out to end the inning.

Reed failed to deliver again in the fourth. After Tapani hit Tyner, the bases were loaded with two outs. The Mets didn’t push home a run as Reed struck out. That’s National League baseball for you.

In the fifth, Reed wasn’t around for Tapani to get out of the inning. The rally started with Jay Payton, who was installed as the lead-off hitter during his hot stretch, and he moved to second on a Derek Bell single. After Edgardo Alfonzo and Mike Piazza failed to deliver, Robin Ventura hit a two run double giving the Mets a 3-1 lead.

The Cubs got one of those runs back in the bottom half of the inning. Jeff Huson led off the inning with a single, and Tapani sacrificed him over to third. Huson then moved up to third when Reed uncorked a wild pitch. That allowed him to score on a Eric Young Sr. sacrifice fly.

Reed would nearly escape the seventh with a 3-2 lead before handing it off to the Mets bullpen. After two quick outs, Young singled and stole second. Reed just couldn’t get that last out as Brant Brown hit an RBI single tying the game. After Turk Wendell relieved Reed to get out of the inning, Reed had a no decision after 6.2 strong innings.

Reed assuredly wanted a better result, but this was a step in the right direction for him. More often times than not, if he pitches this way, the Mets are going to win the game. Today was just not his or the Mets day.

One of the reasons why was the Mets offense just did not get anything going after the fifth. Tapani pitched two scoreless before handing the ball to the Cubs bullpen. Felix Heredia and Rick Aguilera got the job done keeping the Mets off the board over the final two innings.

The same could not be said for the Mets bullpen. John Franco relieved Wendell to start the eighth, and in typical Franco fashion, he got into trouble. With runners on first and second and one out, Glenallen Hill hit a ball at Zeile. Zeile fired it to Kurt Abbott to get the first out, but Abbott’s return throw missed its target. Franco ran past the ball allowing Damon Buford to score the go-ahead run.

It’s easy to kill Abbott here and say the Mets would’ve won the game had that been Rey Ordonez instead of him. However, it needs to be pointed out Joe Girardi took him out with the slide at second, and Franco never quite read or adapted to the throw which was off the mark but not all that wild.

Whoever you want to blame here, the result is the same. The Mets gave away a game they should have won. They were shut down by the Cubs bullpen they should have been able to at least gotten started against. When you chalk it all up, it was just a bad loss. The key is to not let this type of loss spiral.

Game Notes: The finale of the Yankee Stadium portion of the Subway Series was rained out. There is some discussion about the make-up being a doubleheader split between Shea and Yankee Stadium.  Piazza tweaked his ankle during the game but said it should not keep him out of the lineup. The Mets are considering skipping Bobby Jones‘ next turn through the rotation, but Paul Wilson is not under consideration as he’s been limited to 85 pitches per start.

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

2000 Game Recap: Mets Lose Game And Potentially Piazza

If you want to look for positives from this game, they were there. While he had departed the game on the short side of the ledger, Mike Hampton continued his stretch of good pitching allowing three runs (two earned) over seven innings. The Mets also fought to get back into this game.

Heading into the eighth inning, the Mets could get nothing done against Kevin Brown. Brown was his typical dominant self, and if not for an Edgardo Alfonzo homer in the first, the Mets would not have scored a run. In fact, Alfonzo, Robin Ventura, and Hampton were the only to get a hit off of Brown over his six innings.

Entering the eighth, the Mets were down 3-1, which meant they were in the game. Soon, it would be tied. Kurt Abbott led off the inning with a homer off of Alan Mills. After Matt Franco drew a pinch hit walk, and Melvin Mora singled, the Dodgers brought in Matt Herges.

Alfonzo ripped a ball to deep right off of Herges scoring Jon Nunnally, who had pinch ran for Franco. With Mora holding to see if Shawn Green made the play, he could only get to third. That was the part of the Mets bad luck in the inning. Up next was Todd Pratt.

Pratt was in the game because in the sixth, Gary Sheffield‘s typical violent follow-through on his swing hit Mike Piazza in the head. The catcher had blood gushing, and he was removed from the game with his needing to get cleaned up and his likely suffering a concussion.

With Piazza suffering that concussion and coming out of the game, it meant Pratt was up in the eighth. Pratt ripped a ball to short which looked liked it short hopped Kevin Elster. Instead, it was ruled a catch. With Elster having been ruled to catch it, he easily got Mora who had already left third base. That ended an inning where the Mets could’ve taken the lead.

The Mets got their chance again in the ninth. After Ventura and Todd Zeile led off the inning with back-to-back singles, Benny Agbayani, Abbott, and Jay Payton failed to drive them home. Those two missed chances would cost the Mets dearly.

In the ninth, Turk Wendell just didn’t have it. He hung a few to Eric Karros, who couldn’t take advantage. Instead, Karros struck out. Wendell wouldn’t have the same luck with Elster who hit a walk-off homer giving the Dodgers the 4-3 win.

When it comes to this game, the much larger concern is the loss of Piazza than it is the loss of the game. Piazza has once again proved he is not just the best catcher in the game, but really one of the absolute best in the game. We’ve see the Mets can trust Pratt to help them get by, but they are going to need Piazza to go where they want to go this year.

Game Notes: The Mets ended this three city, two time zone road tripe with a 5-4 record. That’s much better than their first west coast trip where they went 5-7 in the trip that had stops in Colorado, San Francisco, Florida, and Pittsburgh.

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

2000 Game Recap: Piazza Again Destroys Hoffman

After taking the red eye, the Mets offense arrived too late to score any runs against the Padres yesterday. Today was a much different story as the Mets batters were well rested, ready to hit, and were going to take advantage of their opportunities.

The game began with Ken Caminiti throwing the ball away. That allowed Joe McEwing to reach. After a stolen base, he was in scoring position. After Stan Spencer struck out Derek Bell, Edgardo Alfonzo hit an RBI single to give the Mets a 1-0 lead. Of note, Padres starter Spencer has a very slow delivery to the plate. Wile it had allowed McEwing to steal a base with ease, it was not slow enough for Alfonzo, who was caught stealing.

That Mets 1-0 lead grew to 3-0 when Todd Zeile and Todd Pratt hit back-to-back homers to start the second.

The Padres did not get to Al Leiter until the fourth. Like many rallies, this began with a lead-off walk. After Leiter issued a lead-off walk to Ruben Rivera, Tony Gwynn doubled him home. Gwynn then scored on an Ed Sprague double pulling the Padres to within 3-2.

The Padres would then tie the score in the sixth when Gwynn took advantage of a Leiter mistake by hitting a homer to straight away center. After that homer, Leiter would retired the next six batters. In total, he was good allowing three earned over seven while striking out seven. However, he was not good enough as he took the no decision.

Turk Wendell relieved Leiter, and he’d pitch a scoreless eighth and ninth. He allowed a single in each inning, but he didn’t allow a runner to get into scoring position. With his work, and the work of Padres reliever Donne Wall, this game went into extra innings.

Trevor Hoffman began the 1oth by retiring Jay Payton and Rey Ordonez. Mark Johnson pinch hit for Wendell, and he blooped a single. Seeing the opportunity to win the game, Bobby Valentine went to Mike Piazza to pinch hit for McEwing. Once again, we were reminded Piazza absolutely owns Hoffman as he hit a two run shot to give the Mets a 5-3 lead.

While Armando Benitez would walk Dave Magadan to begin the bottom of the 10th, he would retire the next three Padres he faced to record the save. This was the latest great outing for Benitez. After his four run blow-up against the Marlins, he has not allowed a run in his last seven appearances.

Overall, the Mets rebounded from a tough travel and difficult game. This is the type of win which helps teams avoid losing streaks much like the one they experienced the last time they came out west.

Game Notes: Mets remain undefeated in Leiter starts going 9-0 when he takes the mound. Piazza’s pinch hit homer was the Mets second over the last week.

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.