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.