Turk Wendell

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.

Mojo Rising Bracket: (6) John Franco vs. (11) Turk Wendell

(6) John Franco – Mets all-time leader in saves and appearances. Has the most saves out of any left-handed pitcher in Major League history. Gave up his 31 for Mike Piazza and began a season long effort to ensure Piazza would remain a Met. Switched to 45 to honor Tug McGraw. Earned key save in Game 2 of 2000 NLDS striking out Barry Bonds, and he was the last Mets pitcher to win a World Series game in Shea Stadium. Wearing an FDNY cap, the Brooklyn born Franco was the winning pitcher for the Mets first game back after 9/11. Inducted into Mets Hall of Fame in 2012.

(11) Turk Wendell – Known and loved best by Mets fans for the shark tooth necklace and spiking of the rosin bag at the back of the mound. Key and primary right-handed set-up man on the 1999 and 2000 teams which were the first Mets teams to make the postseason in consecutive years. Had a 2.84 postseason ERA for the Mets.

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Mojo Rising Bracket: (4) John Olerud vs. (13) Lance Johnson

(5) John Olerud – Had the Keith Hernandez like effect where is acquisition was what helped turned the franchise around. His .354 batting average in 1998 is the Mets single season record, and his .315 career average is the best in Mets history. That 1998 season stands as the best season a Mets first baseman has ever had. Holds the Mets first and second best single season records for OBP and is Mets all-time OBP leader. By OPS+ second best hitter in Mets history. Name littered all over single season and career top 10 lists. Hit RBI single off John Rocker in Game 4 of NLCS. First baseman for greatest defensive infield in team history.

(13) Lance Johnson – Had the single greatest season a Mets lead-off hitter has ever had. In 1996, he posted what was then the second highest single-season WAR in Mets history. Now, it is fifth best, and it is still the best any Mets lead-off hitter has ever had. In that season, he set team single-season records for at-bats, runs, hits, total bases, triples, and singles. His hits, triples, and singles records still stand. Was having a similarly impressive 1997 season before being traded to the Cubs in a trade which netted the Mets, among others, Turk Wendell.

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2000 Game Recap: Pulsipher Looks Done

As an organization and as a fan base, we  are always going to root for Generation K to finally figure it out and become the aces we all hoped they would be. However, each time any of them takes the mound, we get further and further away from the time we thought they were going to be the trio who would be the ones who brought the Mets to their first World Series since 1986.

Bill Pulsipher might’ve thrown three scoreless to begin the game, but it was a tightrope walk. In the first, he walked two batters. In the second, he allowed back-to-back singles. In the third, he allowed a double to Cliff Floyd. Despite the trouble, Pulsipher managed the tight rope walk. In the fourth, there was a big gust of wind from the Marlins batters swings knocking him right off.

In the top of the fourth, Derek Bell hit a lead-off solo homer to give the Mets a 1-0 lead. Unfortunately, having a lead did little to calm Pulsipher down. If anything, it made things worse.

Derek Lee and Alex Gonzalez led off the inning with back-to-back singles, and after a Gonzalez stolen base there were runners at second and third with no outs. After Mike Redmond struck out, the opposing pitcher, Alex Fernandez hit a two RBI double. The Marlins were off and running, and they wouldn’t trail for the rest of the game.

After the Fernandez double, Pulsipher allowed consecutive singles to Luis Castillo, Mark Kotsay, and Cliff Floyd. At that point, it was 4-1 Marlins, and Bobby Valentine brought in Rich Rodriguez to relieve Pulsipher.

When it comes to the 2000 Mets, it is likely Pulsipher will be a footnote in what is hopefully a season where the Mets win a World Series. However, in the grand scheme of things, you do wonder if that is it for Pulsipher in a Mets uniform. This is now his second straight start where he just wasn’t up to the task, and the team already traded him away once. He was the first member of Generation K to make his debut, and he may be the first one to see his Mets career or even his Major League career end.

There is a certain sadness to that.

For now, it is about this game, a game the Mets were routed by a bad Marlins team. To be fair, it should be pointed out the Marlins did start Fernandez, who is the last hold over from the 1997 World Series winner. Fernandez certainly pitched like the very good pitcher we know him to be.

For the Mets, it seemed fortunate he had to leave with an elbow injury, but the Marlins bullpen also shut down the Mets. On the Mets side of the ledger, Rodriguez had walked Preston Wilson when he first relieved Pulsipher to load the bases, and then he got bailed out of the inning. On a Lowell sacrifice fly, Floyd got caught in a run down.

Rodriguez did his job pitching 2.1 innings, and Turk Wendell showed no ill effects from the sprained ankle. While Rodriguez and Wendell did their jobs, Armando Benitez struggled. He allowed a lead-off double to Brant Brown, and he issued two walks loading the bases. Wilson then hit a grand slam.

That took a game within reach to a 5-1 route. At the end of the day, a loss is a loss, but a loss like this is all the more frustrating. First, the Mets gave themselves little chance with Pulsipher on the mound, and then, they really had no chance when Benitez allowed the grand slam. Mostly, it is frustrating because the Mets are not playing well right now losing five of their last six.

Game Notes: This was the fifth homer Benitez has allowed this year raising his ERA to 6.88. At the moment, there are no plans to give the closer duties back to John Franco.

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: Mets Can’t Beat Giants Or Umpires

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2000 Game Recap: Mets Bats On Rocky Mountain High

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Best Mets Of All Time: No. 22 Al Leiter

The Mets have won two World Series with Donn Clendenon and Ray Knight being the MVPs of those series. Aside from being Mets, one thing that links them is they both wore the number 22. However, while each have their own special place in Mets history, the best Mets player to ever wear the number was Al Leiter.

After being the starting pitcher in Game 7 of the 1997 World Series, Leiter was shipped out as Wayne Huizenga ordered a firesale of the team. Leiter, who grew up a Mets fan in New Jersey, would get to live out his childhood dream of pitching for the Mets. On that note, before there was Todd Frazier, Leiter was the Mets player from Toms River, NJ.

The Leiter trade was a significant step for the franchise. Not only did it come at a steep cost which included AJ Burnett, but it was an indication the Mets were looking to take the next step forward after a surprising 88 win season in 1997. Leiter went from a star studded rotation in Florida to the Mets ace.

In that 1998 season, he was 17-6 with a 2.47 ERA, 1.150 WHIP, and an 8.1 K/9. Using the stat ERA+, Leiter’s 1998 season was the best by any Mets pitcher not named Dwight Gooden, Jacob deGrom, or Tom Seaver. Put another way, it was the best season by any Mets left-handed pitcher, a group which includes Tom Glavine, Jerry Koosman, and Johan Santana.

While Mike Piazza got much of the publicity for that season, and deservedly so, by WAR, Leiter was the second best player on that Mets team. It should be noted he was the pitcher who was on the mound when Piazza first came to the Mets. The two of them became friends, and Leiter was one of the reasons Piazza stayed.

Leiter would not be able to replicate his 1998 success in a Mets uniform, but he would go on to put together a great Mets career. While it may not have been his best season, Leiter would come up big time and again.

After the May firings of Bobby Valentine‘s coaching staff, Leiter won six of his next seven starts to help get the Mets from one game under .500 at the beginning of June to 11 games over just one month later. That helped turn the 1999 season from a forgettable one to one of the most special ones in team history.

When the Mets were staring down a late season collapse for the second straight year, Leiter helped right the ship by beating the Braves to allow the team to tie the Reds atop the Wild Card standings to force a play-in game. Leiter would get the ball, and he would turn in what was arguably the greatest regular season pitching performance in team history:

In a game the Mets absolutely had to have, Leiter put his best performance in a Mets uniform pitching a two hit shut-out on the road against the Reds to send the Mets to the NLDS. One interesting note is that while this is classified as a one-game playoff, it is considered a regular season game.

One of the reasons this is interesting is because despite some truly great performances in the postseason, Leiter never won a postseason game with the Mets. Mostly, it was due to some bad luck like when he lost Game 3 of the NLCS when the greatest infield of all-time allowed an unearned run in the Mets 1-0 loss. To be fair, his teammates picked him up in Game 6.

In 2000, for the first time in his Mets career, he was not the designated ace. That didn’t matter all that much as Leiter had a great season making the All Star team while going 16-8 with a 3.20 ERA. Things would not be as difficult for the Mets this year as they easily made the postseason.

In typical Leiter hard luck fashion, his gem in Game 2 of the NLDS went by the wayside when Armando Benitez blew the save. Still, Leiter’s performance was important as it helped right the ship after an opening game loss, and it helped propel the Mets to the NLCS. In the NLCS, Turk Wendell vultured a win.

In that World Series, Benitez yet again blew the save in Game 1 costing Leiter a win. That series did not go the Mets way, and they were forced to win a Game 5 to send the series back to Yankee Stadium. In that Game 5, Leiter gave everything he had to try to will the Mets to victory. Being a terrible hitter, he would even try to bunt his way on to drive home a run. Sadly, he was out of gas after 142 pitches, and his defense just couldn’t get to that one ground ball.

The Mets never reached those heights again during Leiter’s tenure. However, he had one more big moment left in the tank.

Many forget this now, but after the 9/11 attacks, it was Leiter, the local kid from Toms River, NJ, who was handed the baseball when the Mets returned to action in Pittsburgh. He received a no decision after limiting the Pirates to one run over seven innings.

One really important note here is Leiter is the last Mets player to ever wear a First Responder’s cap. On the one year anniversary, Leiter cycled through the caps for each of the first responder agencies pitching a complete game shutout against the Braves.

In Leiter’s final few years with the Mets, they never got back to the postseason, but Leiter still remained a very good pitcher for the team. Notably, he never had a losing record for the Mets, and he won 10+ in his seven years with the Mets with a 3.42 ERA. He would also accomplish some truly astonishing feats.

In 2000, he won the Roberto Clemente Award. In 2002, he became the first Major League pitcher to defeat all 30 teams. In one he probably wants to have back, he was the last ever pitcher to lose a game to the Montreal Expos. Overall, he became of the best pitchers in Mets history.

In fact, he could make the claim as the best ever left-handed pitcher. On that note, among Mets pitchers who have thrown at least 1,000 innings, only Jacob deGrom and Seaver have a better ERA+. Overall, Leiter is in the Mets top 1o in wins, GS, IP, strikeouts, WAR, and ERA+. He should be in the Mets Hall of Fame, but for now, he is going to have to settle for being the best Mets player to ever wear the number 22.

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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