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.
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.