Turk Wendell

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.

2000 Game Recap: Franco Infield Single Walks Off 1-0 Victory

The Mets have been winning lately on the strength of their offense by battering opposing teams. During this seven game winning streak, they have been averaging eight runs per game, and they have put up 10+ runs in three separate games. Today, we found out they could win with their pitching and defense.

This was supposed to be Rick Reed‘s start, but he was held out after he took a ball off the palm of his non-pitching hand. In his place was Pat Mahomes, who for the second time this season has stepped up with a very good start. Much like his last emergency start against the Dodgers, he went into the sixth. The difference is in this 5.2 inning start, he allowed no runs.

Unfortunately for Mahomes, he was once again not rewarded with a win. This time, it was because the Mets offense which had recently exploded couldn’t get out of their own way.

In the first, the Mets loaded the bases against Darren Dreifort, but they wouldn’t push a run across as Mike Piazza hit into an inning ending double play. In the third, Piazza came up with runners on second and third with two out, but he would fly out to end the inning. Obviously, this is just presented as a representation of what happened. With how great Piazza has been this month, there is absolutely no need to finger point in his direction.

The problems were deeper than Piazza. There were some base running gaffes too. After Todd Zeile hit a one out double in the fourth, he made the mistake of trying to go to third on a grounder to short. The former Met Kevin Elster made the heads up play getting Zeile out at third effectively killing that rally.

For a moment, it seemed like the inability to come through in the clutch would hinder a well pitched game by first Mahomes. Dennis Cook may have gotten out of the sixth, but he immediately got into trouble issuing a lead-off walk to Eric Karros.

After a Todd Hundley single, Turk Wendell came into the game, and he masterfully navigated his way out of the jam. First, Adrian Beltre laid down a sacrifice moving the runners up to second and third. Wendell then struck out Elster to put the Mets one out away from getting out of it. After walking the pinch hitting Dave Hansen, he got Devon White to keep the game scoreless.

After that, neither the Mets nor the Dodgers threatened in the eighth. Wendell had pitched a clean eighth, and Armando Benitez pitched a scoreless ninth to give the Mets a chance to get the walk-off win.

Things got started really well for the Mets when Robin Ventura hit a lead-off double against Terry Adams. With that being the winning run, Bobby Valentine pinch ran Melvin Mora to get the much faster runner out there. For a second, that appeared to be a disastrous move.

After Jon Nunnally walked, Jay Payton again hit a groundball to short. Like he had done earlier when he picked off Zeile, Elster threw over to Beltre. Maybe it was the speed of Mora, or maybe it was an umpiring crew who wanted to get home, but Mora was ruled safe loading the bases.

Davey Johnson was irate, and he got tossed from the game. For his part, Beltre was unsure as to whether he had his foot on the bag on the force play, but he was positive he got the tag down. The umpires felt differently.

Elster would not be denied going home on a Rey Ordonez grounder. That brought up Matt Franco. He hit a comebacker which had the potential to turn into an inning ending 1-2-3 double play. Instead, the ball tipped off of Adams’ glove giving the Mets a walk-off 1-0 victory.

The Mets were far from perfect in this game. Unlike the other games against lesser competition, they were stymied time and again, and the Dodgers made them pay for their mistakes. Still, the combination of the Mets terrific bullpen, and a team with near unmatched resolve pulled this game out to continue their winning streak to eight straight games.

Game Notes: This was a makeup game of the April 6th game which was snowed out. Benitez was credited for the win, his first of 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: Melvin Mora Sweeps Away Brewers

If Bobby Valentine wasn’t happy with the Mets acquiring Derek Bell in the offseason, watching him play, especially defense, Valentine surely must be reassessing his original opinion. Once again, it was Bell who was a key contributor for the Mets.

Heading into the seventh, the Mets were trailing 4-1 to the Brewers with the Mets lone run coming when Mike Piazza cleared the picnic area to lead-off the second inning. That homer had tied the score at 1-1. They would soon fall behind the Brewers.

For the first time this year, Al Leiter wasn’t sharp. In fact, he’d walk three and allow two homers. The first was a two run shot by James Mouton in the third. Charlie Hayes would hit a solo shot in the sixth giving the Brewers a 4-1 lead. For a while, that seemed like it would end the Mets winning streak.

Brewers starter Steve Woodard was sharp with the Piazza homer being one of just three hits he allowed over six innings. In fact, after that Piazza homer, Woodard retired the next 15 Mets who would face him. Then, Bell would coe to the plate to lead-off the seventh, and he would launch a homer to pull the Mets to within 4-2.

That homer seemed to ignite the Mets. Edgardo Alfonzo singled, and then Piazza walked. That chased Woodard from the game. The LOOGY Valerio De Los Santos did his job getting Robin Ventura to hit into a fielder’s choice with Piazza being forced out at second.

The Brewers then went to David Weathers to face Todd Zeile. Zeile greeted Weathers with an opposite field RBI single. On the play, Ventura tried to go first to third, and Jeromy Burnitz unleashed a throw which went into the stands allowing Ventura to score on the play to tie the game a 4-4.

That’s when the Mets bullpen, who had been home run happy to start the season, stepped up pitching four scoreless innings. The first two came from Pat Mahomes, who got some help from Bell making a sliding catch deep in the right field corner to rob Marquis Grissom of a hit. Dennis Cook and Turk Wendell walked a tightrope in their scoreless innings.

Cook beaned Burnitz, who stole second with two outs, but he would be stranded there. Wendell hit Ronnie Belliard to start off the 10th, and after a passed ball by Todd Pratt, who came into the game after the Mets pinch ran for Piazza in the ninth, Belliard was in scoring position with one out. Wendell settled in, and he kept Belliard there putting him in line for the win.

After missing an opportunity to score in the ninth and with one out in the 10th, Melvin Mora homered off the first pitch he saw from Curtis Leskanic to win the game. It was the Mets first walk-off win of 2000, and that homer completed the Mets first sweep of the season. Suddenly, this is a team getting key hits and are now two games over .500.

Game Notes: Darryl Hamilton will not be coming off the DL tomorrow meaning Benny Agbayani will stay with the ballclub. At the moment, no one has any idea when, or maybe if, Hamilton can play again this year. Rey Ordonez returned to the lineup. He was 0-for-4 at the plate.

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: Rick Reed Dominant Again

Another game, another dominant Rick Reed performance. Again, Reed allowed just one run over seven innings. We can surmise he is starting to slump because this time he allowed seven hits instead of four. Joking aside, Reed has been absolutely great to start the season, and he is one of the biggest reasons why the Mets are now over .500.

In typical Reed fashion, he gutted out this victory. The opening batter of the game, Marquis Grissom, hit one right back at him striking his palm on this glove side. Reed was in agony, but he picked up the ball and recorded the out. He then got taped up and stayed in the game.

The Brewers couldn’t get to him until Geoff Jenkins homered to lead-off the seventh. Reed responded by getting a fly out and striking out the final two batters he would face in the game. The bullpen would take it from there. preserve the victory.

The hot Mets bats were cooled a bit by Jason Bere, who, like Reed, has been terrific to start the year. Even with Bere pitching well, the Mets did what they needed to do. Instead of extra base hits and grand slams, the Mets were getting them on, getting them over, and getting them in.

In the first, Mike Piazza drove in Rickey Henderson with an RBI groundout. In the second, Reed bunted Kurt Abbott over to second, and Henderson singled sending him to third. Henderson went first to third on the ensuing RBI base hit by Derek Bell, and he would score on the Edgardo Alfonzo sacrifice fly.

The Mets wouldn’t score after that, but that three run lead was more than enough run support for Reed. With Turk Wendell, Dennis Cook, and Armando Benitez combining to shut out the Brewers over the final two innings, the Mets won 3-1, and they now have won three straight for the first time all season.

Game Notes: Rey Ordonez was out of the lineup again. Henderson returned to the lineup, and he was 2-for-3 with two runs and two walks. Once again, Jay Payton got the start over Jon Nunnally in center.

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: Ventura Giveth But Mostly Taketh

The bad news is this game encapsulated everything which has gone wrong for the Mets early on this season. The good news is despite everything which had gone wrong, the Mets were somehow able to pull out a victory.

With Mike Piazza back in the lineup, the Mets offense shut down by Jimmy Anderson came alive against Kris Benson. Before the Pirates could even come to the plate, the Mets had a 3-0 lead courtesy of Robin Ventura‘s three run homer. What is startling for Ventura is the 1999 Gold Glove winner has more errors (3) than homers (1) so far this season. More on that later.

The Mets 3-0 lead was extremely short lived as Bobby Jones didn’t even record an out in the game. Two batters into the game, he had a strained calf, and he had to come out of the game. This was the third straight start he couldn’t even pitch past four innings. As if his performance wasn’t enough of an issue, his now being injured could force the issue.

Jones wasn’t the only one dealing with an injury issue. Rickey Henderson was lifted for Jon Nunnally after getting hit by a pitch while leading off the game.

Pat Mahomes came into the game, and he didn’t appear quite ready to go. He was greeted by Brian Giles hitting an RBI double, and he’d be hit hard allowing four first inning runs (including the two he inherited) putting the Mets behind 4-3.

After that first inning, Mahomes would settle in a bit, and the Mets offesne would grab him a lead. First, it was a Nunnally two run homer in the second, and then it was a Todd Zeile two RBI double in the third. The Zeile double chased Benson from the game.

The Mets had a 6-4 lead, and that’s when the sloppiness started. With two outs in the third, Rey Ordonez would boot a ground ball leading to two unearned runs. The first came off a Jason Kendall RBI single, and the second was off Giles’ second double of the game. With that the Mets 6-4 lead became a 7-6 deficit.

Fortunately, the Mets offense was still humming. They came right back and retook the lead. Once again, it was Nunnally. He hit a one out single, and he stole second. He then scored on a Derek Bell RBI single. After an Edgardo Alfonzo double, and Ventura RBI single, the Mets were back on top 9-7. They would not fall behind again.

One of the reasons was while the Mets were playing sloppy defense, Bell continued his terrific early defense. With John Vander Wal on second with two outs, Aramis Ramirez hit a ball to deep right which seemed destined for extra bases. Bell would leap and rob Ramirez of a hit preserving the Mets two run lead and sending the game into the fifth.

The Mets would then build on their lead. After loading the bases with three straight singles to start the sixth, Ventura would hit a sacrifice fly. Later on in the inning, Jay Payton hit a bases clearing double expanding the Mets lead to 11-7.

The Pirates would again pull closer after Giles and Wil Cordero hit a pair of solo shots off of Turk Wendell in the sixth. Still, the Mets would maintain their lead, and that lead would grow to 12-7 when Ventura hit an RBI double in the eighth.

Overall, the Mets were extremely sloppy in this game, including Zeile getting mixed up on who should cover first along with three errors. Still, they were hitting, and when they hit, this team can win any game. Bell, Piazza, and Ventura each had three hit games, and Ventura drove in half of the team’s runs with six RBI.

At the end of the day, a win is a win, and for the first time this season, the Mets have won a series. It wasn’t pretty, and it came against a bad team, but it is a start.

Game Notes: This was Ventura’s first two error game since 1998. Ordonez now has four errors, which matches his total for all of last year.

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: Rick Reed Again Looks Like Mets Real Ace

One pleasantly surprising development early in this season is Rick Reed right now looks like the best pitcher in baseball. Sure, over 162 games, that may not prove to be true. That said, looking at how he has performed, it is difficult to come to any other conclusion.

Reed’s start against the Phillies was the third time in as many starts he has had this season Reed has thrown at least seven innings while allowing one run on four hits. What made this start different than the others was Reed didn’t record a strikeout. Of course, that doesn’t matter when you are challenging hitters the way Reed does and getting softer contact and allowing your very good fielders behind you to make the plays they are capable of making.

So far, that has translated to a 0.79 ERA and 0.750 WHIP. Much like his brilliant start in Japan, Reed walked away from this one with a no decision, but he did put his team in a position to win.

Reed got the no decision partially because he could not make his own run hold up. After he struck out with the bases loaded in the second to end the inning, Reed would not be denied in the fourth hitting a sacrifice fly scoring Derek Bell. After that the struggling Mets offense went dormant again.

Bell was the one position player for the Mets who looked really good out there. In addition to going 3-for-4 with a walk, Bell made a spectacular diving grab to rob Mike Lieberthal of an extra base hit. For the first time since the trade, Bell looked comfortable out there, and he made a real impact.

With respect to Lieberthal, there was no robbing him his next time at the plate. He led off the seventh with a homer which skimmed the top of the left field wall. Just like he did last year, Lieberthal is killing the Mets, and he is really becoming an annoying Mets killer. With the Braves being full of them, Lieberthal sometimes gets overlooked in that mix.

In the eighth, the Mets had an opportunity to score because of Bell. After a lead-off single, the Mets would have a pair of groundouts leading to Bobby Valentine and Terry Francona playing musical chairs. Initially, Valentine sent Matt Franco to the plate to pinch hit for Rey Ordonez. Francona countered with Scott Aldred relieving Carlos Reyes. Valentine then went with Kurt Abbott to hit for Franco.

Even with Bell getting himself into scoring position by stealing second, and Abbott drawing a walk, Francona won the game within a game when Todd Pratt, pinch hitting for Reed, flew out to end the inning. This meant the MEts were going to a home run prone bullpen in the late innings.

It wasn’t pretty, but Turk Wendell and Dennis Cook combined to shut down the Phillies in the eighth to give the Mets the chance to take the lead in the ninth. They took advantage of that opportunity.

Jay Payton hit a one out single against Aldred, and after an Edgardo Alfonzo fly out, Francona tabbed Amaury Telemaco to face Mike Piazza. Piazza what was seemingly his first big hit of the season hitting a double to left-center. Payton flew around the bases, and he just beat Mickey Morandini‘s throw to score the go-ahead run from first base.

After a lead-off walk to Lieberthal, Morandini would sacrifice him to second. Lieberthal would stay there as Armando Benitez struck out Desi Relaford and Kevin Jordan to pick up his third save of the season in the Mets 2-1 victory.

Game Notes: With the left-hander Randy Wolf starting, Robin Ventura got the day off, and Melvin Mora hit lead-off and played third. Benny Agbayani would get the start with Rickey Henderson getting the day off after a game where he went 0-for-3 with two walks and an RBI.

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: Franco Blows Mahomes Gem

When you look at this game on paper, you think this is one where you wouldn’t take much issue if the Mets lost. Pat Mahomes was making a spot start for the injured Al Leiter, and he was squaring off against Kevin Brown. The Mets offense has been struggling, which may be a function of the fatigue of starting the season in Japan, and this was a day game after a night game.

What we didn’t count on happening was Mahomes out-dueling Brown for 5.2 innings. Maybe we shouldn’t have been too surprised with how great he was for the Mets last year.

For the first five innings, the Dodgers couldn’t get a runner past first base. That was the case right from the jump with Mahomes picking Devon White off of first after he led off the game with a single.

The Dodgers finally broke through against Mahomes when Mark Grudzielanek hit a lead-off homer against Mahomes. After two quick outs, Eric Karros would double leading to Bobby Valentine going to get his spot starter after a great outing. When Turk Wendell retired Adrian Beltre, Mahomes was in line for the win.

That was because the Mets offense was able to get the ball up against the sinkerballer Brown. In the second, Jay Payton hit his first career homer. In the ensuing inning, Edgardo Alfonzo hit a two run homer to give the Mets a 3-0 lead.

The Mets offense would come alive with their backups, and they would put some insurance runs against the Dodgers bullpen. Kurt Abbott, Todd Pratt, and Melvin Mora led off the bottom of the eighth with three straight singles off Gregg Olson to expand the lead to 4-1.

The bases were then loaded on a catcher’s interference against Benny Agbayani leading to a Rey Ordonez RBI ground out. Even with the Mets not taking full advantage of the situation, you had to expect a 5-1 lead should have been more than enough. It wasn’t.

John Franco entered the ninth, and even without there being a save opportunity, he blew it. He gave up a homer to the first batter he faced, Karros. After striking out Beltre, he walked Chad Kreuter, and former Met Kevin Elster singled. White then hit a game tying three run homer.

Just like that, the great performance by Mahomes was wasted.

The Mets had an opportunity to win the game in the bottom of the ninth with Todd Zeile drawing a two out walk against Mike Fetters and then stealing second. Pratt would walk as well, but Mora could not drive them home.

Armando Benitez came on for the 10th, and after two quick fly outs, he gave up the game winning homer to Karros. After Jeff Shaw retired the Mets 1-2-3 in the bottom of the inning, the Mets lost about as frustrating a game as they can lose.

Game Notes: Fans booed Rickey Henderson lustily by the fans, and he returned the favor by clapping for himself after he flew out to Shawn Green in the fourth. Valentine would lift him for defensive purposes in the top of the seventh, and Mora would make a nice play in the wind. The first non-Orodonez start at short went to Mora and not Abbott.

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: Maybe The Mets Aren’t A Good Team

It is still early in the season, but at some point we may need to question just how good of a Mets team this is. Rickey Henderson is loafing it around the bases and blowing bubbles as he gets thrown out. Rey Ordonez is making errors. Darryl Hamilton is hobbled. Their new ace, Mike Hampton, isn’t looking like an ace.

Mostly, Bobby Valentine‘s team has looked sloppy and over-matched to begin this season. Today’s game against the San Diego Padres was the perfect encapsulation of that.

Matt Clement, who had a 4.48 ERA last year, shut down this once powerful offense over 6.2 innings allowing just one run on five hits. Time and again, this team was unable to get a key hit. It should then come as little surprise that the one run they actually scored against Clement came off a bases loaded walk to Edgardo Alfonzo in the seventh. That was promptly followed by a Mike Piazza fly out.

At that point, whatever the Mets did was too little, too late as the team was already trailing 7-0. That was the case not so much because Hampton was bad, he wasn’t, but because this team just doesn’t seem as focused as they were last year. Right now, it all just seems bizarre.

Ruben Rivera of all people is hitting two RBI triples. It was just 2-0 in the top of the sixth when Rivera reached safely again. This time it led off the inning, and it was because Ordonez threw one away. Ordonez has quickly gone from a Major League record setter for errorless games to making two errors already this season.

That error was followed by a fun scenario you never see with Ed Sprague hitting a sacrifice fly to Alfonzo at second allowing Eric Owens to score from third. After that Hampton was done after allowing four runs, two earned over 5.2 innings.

So far in his brief Mets career, Hampton isn’t going deep into games, and he is walking a lot of batters. Even though this wasn’t his dismal Opening Day performance, three walks over 5.2 innings is cause for concern.

Speaking of Mets who are starting to show signs of worry, Turk Wendell got lit up again, and he carries a 4.91 ERA early this season. His outing was marked by Owens hitting a triple between Hamilton and Derek Bell and scoring when Bell threw it away. That’s right, the Mets were so bad today the Padres were hitting Little League homers against them.

If you are looking for signs of hope, it’s April afterall, the Mets still seem to possess that resiliency which marked them in 1999 by scoring at least one run in each of the final three innings.

One of those runs came compliment of a Benny Agbayani pinch hit RBI double in the eighth. Somehow, this was his first plate appearance since his Sayonara Slam. Hopefully, the Mets realize what they have in him and use him instead of letting this Jon Nunnally experiment fail.

In the ninth, Todd Pratt hit a three run homer in a rally started by Jay Payton. With respect to Payton, he looked really good today, and he has looked pretty good in his limited chances. If Hamilton is going to be this hobbled, Payton looks like he can step in now and play everyday.

Overall, this was just a bad 8-5 loss. Teams suffer these losses all the time, even the best teams. Even great teams have stretches like this. However, when you see sloppiness and listlessness on the field, especially from people like Henderson, you can’t help but start to get nervous about the Mets prospects in 2000.

Game Notes: Todd Zeile is the Mets only everyday player who has a batting average over .200. Alfonzo leads the team with a .788 OPS.

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: Agbayani Says Saynora

This game started with a pitchers duel between Rick Reed and Kyle Farnsworth, and it would become a battle of the bullpens until Benny Agbayani provided the fireworks.

Reed and Farnsworth were both able to fairly navigate through what little trouble they had until the fifth inning. Both pitchers would get touched up that inning.

The Mets broke through in the top of the fifth after Todd Zeile and Rey Ordonez drew back-to-back walks to start the inning. After Reed sacrificed them over, Rickey Henderson delivered a sacrifice fly to give the Mets the lead.

As alluded to earlier, it didn’t last long as the Mets infield defense giveth and taketh. After a Joe Girardi lead-off single, Zeile threw away Farmsworth’s sac bunt putting runners at the corners with no outs. Reed minimized the damage by getting Eric Young to hit into a 4-6-3 double play. The run scored, but the rally was over.

The Mets put pressure on the Cubs the ensuing two innings, but they just could not get that key hit.

In the sixth, the Mets loaded the bases with two outs and chased Farnsworth, but Ordonez couldn’t get the key hit. In the seventh, the Mets had first and second with two outs with Mike Piazza unable to deliver the key hit.

The shame is Reed was pitching a gem. In his eight innings, he allowed one unearned run with allowing just two walks and four hits. He should’ve easily walked away with the win. Instead, for a moment, it looked as if the Mets would blow it.

In the bottom of the ninth, John Franco had one of his typical filthy innings. Soon after a Mark Grace single to lead-off the inning, the Cubs quickly had first and second with one out. Franco quickly put out the fire he started striking out Cole Liniak before getting Girardi to ground out to end the inning.

Turk Wendell repeated Franco’s high wire act in the 10th by putting two on with two out. Dennis Cook relieved him. He first made things worse by walking Grace to load the bases before striking out Henry Rodriguez to end the inning.

Finally, after a couple of failed rallies for both teams, the Mets broke through against Danny Young in the 11th.

After two quick outs, Zeile got the rally started with a single. The bases were then loaded after Ordonez and Melvin Mora drew back-to-back walks. Agbayani then pinch hit for Cook:

On a 1-0 pitch, Agbayani hit one just over the CF wall for what was termed a Sayonara Slam.

What really stood out about the game winning grand slam was the fact this was supposed to be Agbayani’s last game before getting sent back down to Norfolk. At the moment, the Mets outfield and roster is very crowded.

In addition to the everyday outfield of Henderson-Darryl HamiltonDerek Bell, the Mets also gave Kurt Abbott, Agbayani, Matt Franco, Joe McEwing, Mora, and others, the Mets have good depth. As a result, options and versatility work against him. That said, it’ll be very interesting if it is indeed Agbayani who gets sent down when the Mets need Glendon Rusch to make a start.

Whichever way the Mets decide, they already have a key hit from Agbayani which helped them secure a split from the Japan series.

Game Notes: Ordóñez’s Major League record for errorless games at SS was snapped with a first inning error. Even with the error, he’s shown remarkable patience at the plate drawing three walks in nine plate appearances. This follows a career high 49 walks last year.

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: Mike Hampton Walks Through Japan

For the first time in Major League history, the Cincinnati Reds are not hosting the first MLB game of the regular season. No, that tradition had to die so Major League Baseball could begin the 2000 season in Japan. That led to the Mets and Cubs playing the first two games of the season in the Tokyo Dome.

Everything about the game was bizarre. There were the players wearing advertisements on their jerseys to be reminiscent of NPB players. There was the the slightly expanded rosters to accommodate the teams traveling to Japan and having a slightly shorter Spring Training. There was also fans having to get up for a 6:00 A.M. first pitch.

Really, in terms of baseball, Bobby Valentine, who had managed the Chiba Lotte Marines before coming back to the US, was probably the only person comfortable. That would not be true for long as he would quickly become rather uncomfortable with the Cubs hitters looking very comfortable at the plate against new Mets ace Mike Hampton.

Before you could blink, it was 1-0. Hampton walked Eric Young to start the game, and he would quickly steal second allowing him to score on a Damon Buford (who previously played in Japan) RBI single. Mark Grace was hit by a pitch, and suddenly, you were cringing at the prospect of a Sammy Sosa homer.

While much changed about the Mets this past offseason, most of the greatest infield of all-time remained in tact. We saw that as they turned a 6-4-3 double play helping Hampton and the Mets get out of the inning without further damage.

This is pretty much how it went for the Mets all day. Hampton would walk the ballpark, nine in total over five innings, and the infield defense would bail him out.

After a lead-off walk to Shane Andrews in the second, he was immediately erased as Jose Nieves hit into a 6-6-3 double play. In the fifth, things would have been much worse after Hampton walked Andrews to force in a run had he not induced Nieves to hit into a 5-4-3 double play to end the fifth.

After that pitch, Hampton was done. He had thrown 103 pitches over five while allowing four hits and nine walks. He’d also throw a wild pitch while striking out two. If you are looking for a bright side, he was getting a lot of groundballs in front of what is still an amazing infield defense, and he did not allow one extra base hit.

While Hampton was fighting it throughout the game, Jon Lieber cruised through seven innings.

Believe it or not, the Mets real offensive threat early in the game was Rey Ordonez. He had a lead-off single in the third, and after Hampton bunted him over, and Rickey Henderson singled, he’d score on a Darryl Hamilton sacrifice fly.

The following inning, the Mets had an opportunity to break the 1-1 tie to take the lead with Ordonez drawing a two out walk to load the bases, but Hampton was not able to help his own cause.

Things were interesting and close into the seventh due to Dennis Cook bailing out Turk Wendell in the sixth. Unfortunately, Cook could not get out of his own trouble in the seventh as Andrews hit a two run homer to give the Cubs a 4-1 lead. That lead would grow to 5-1 when Grace homered off Rich Rodriguez in the eighth.

With Lieber out of the game in the eighth, Edgardo Alfonzo drew a lead-off walk off of Brian Williams, and Mike Piazza homered to pull the Mets to within 5-3. Unfortunately, this was not the start of a huge comeback as six of the last seven Mets recorded outs to end the game.

It was one day, but the moves made by Steve Phillips to take this Mets team over the top did not do much. Hampton took the loss while walking nine over five innings. Derek Bell, who also came in that trade, was 1-for-4, and Todd Zeile, who was signed to replace John Olerud, was 0-for-4.

Still, it is just one game, and it was an odd one by all accounts. We shall see how the next game goes as well as the rest of the 2000 season.

Game Notes: Bobby Jones and Al Leiter did not make the trip as they are preparing for their starts at Shea. This means Rick Reed will start the second game of the season. Henderson isn’t exactly endearing himself to fans as he followed playing cards with Bobby Bonilla with a demand for a new contract. He was, however, 1-for-4 with a walk.

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.