Betty's No Good Clothes Shop And Pancake House
Friday, April 09, 2004
  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's throw.

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.
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Disseminating descriptions and accounts of New York Mets games without the expressed written consent of Major League Baseball or the New York Mets since 2003.

Location: Hatboro, Pennsylvania, United States
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