Mets 3, Expos 2 (11)
The Mets exited the mainland with a tired bullpen that had given up early leads in two consecutive disastrous losses to the Braves
, needing a strong outing from Tyler Yates
in his first major league start. Yates gave the Mets all they could have asked for, exiting after six innings with a 2-0 lead. Cliff Floyd
homered in the first and scored in the fourth on a Karim Garcia
fielder's choice to give the Mets the lead. Yates left after six having allowed just five hits, striking out four and walking none. It was exactly the kind of performance that the Mets needed.
But Yates' desire to earn his first major league win would come into conflict with the destructive force that is Former Yankee Mike Stanton
. Pitching for the third straight night and having gone an entire forty-eight hours without allowing a run, Stanton could not let this lead stand. He got through the seventh without incident, but then the eighth came, and he entered into a bizarre conspiracy with Art Howe to lose this game for the Mets.
Apparently unfamiliar with his own bullpen and believing this two run lead to be insurmountable, Howe removed his third and fourth hitters for defensive replacements to start the bottom of the eighth. The first two batters to face Stanton in the eighth reached base and after a sacrifice there were runners on second and third with just one out. This brought in Proven Closer Braden Looper
in a double switch that also put Todd Zeile
at first base. The Expos were threatening and Cliff Floyd, Mike Piazza
and Jason Phillips
sat on the bench and watched Looper try to close it out. While Armando Benitez
was 1000 miles away wrapping up his third save of the season, Looper was giving up a two-run double to Jose Vidro
. He managed to get the final two outs without allowing any more runs and the game was tied heading to the ninth.
Despite Art Howe's best efforts, the Mets' offense showed signs of life in the ninth and nearly took the lead. With two outs on the board, Kazuo Matsui
added a double to the single and two walks he'd already racked up in the game. Ricky Gutierrez
then walked, bringing up leftfielder Shane Spencer
. Spencer ripped one into left, but it turned out to be hit just a little too hard as Matsui flew around third base only to be nailed at the plate by Juan Rivera
Looper pitched a perfect ninth and the game headed to extra innings. David Weathers
gave up a hit and a walk before finishing a scoreless tenth. Then Art Howe's defensive replacement got called on again to carry the offense. Karim Garcia
led off the eleventh with a single and after Ty Wigginton
tried and failed to bunt him over, Todd Zeile came through with a double to left center to drive Garcia home. Matsui added an intentional walk to his box score and Gutierrez was hit by a pitch before Spencer and Vance Wilson
made outs to end the inning.
As the game progressed, Expos manager Frank Robinson seemingly tried to keep up with Howe in the area of bizarre subsitutions. First he removed Brad Wilkerson
to let the righthanded Luis Lopez
(no, not the former Met) bat against the lefty Mike Stanton despite Wilkerson's .400+ OBP against lefties last year. After Lopez grounded out to lead off the 11th, Orber Moreno
struck out out-machine extraordinaire Tony Batista
before Robinson removed Juan Rivera, who had earlier replaced Termel Sledge
in left, in favor of Ron Calloway
and his .282 career OBP. Calloway managed to come back from a 1-2 count to draw a walk, but Brian Schneider
grounded out to end the game, giving Moreno his first career save. Hopefully it won't be his last this year.
So despite everything Art Howe and Mike Stanton tried to do to derail them, the Mets would not be denied their second win of the season and things are once again looking up for this team. Kaz Matsui had another excellent game, reaching base five times, although he did get caught in his first steal attempt of the year, Mike Cameron
walked twice and singled in five plate appearances, and two young pitchers gave the Mets very solid performances. Tomorrow the Mets have some reason to have faith in the man on the mound, as Al Leiter
(15-9, 3.99 in 2003) will get the start opposite John Patterson
(1-4, 6.06). Hopefully the irrepressible Mets offense will be there to back him up.