Mr. Koo's wild ride

New York Mets Notes and Quotes for Sunday, May 22: Dae-Sung Koo picks a heck of an opponent for his first big league hit; Kris Benson's solid start gets overlooked; Carlos Beltran and Kaz Matsui both leave Saturday's game early...

New York Mets Notes and Quotes for Sunday, May 22 Last Game: Mets 7, Yankees 1. It wasn't the turning point in the game, but Saturday's action at Shea Stadium will be forever remembered in Subway Series lore as the day Dae-Sung Koo took his wild ride around the bases.

Pitching in relief of Kris Benson, Koo's turn in the batting order came around in the seventh inning and – having seen Koo's timid three-pitch "at-bat" against the Reds' Todd Coffey last week, when Koo refused to get anywhere near the plate – it would have been perfectly understandable if Koo issued a repeat performance against 6'10" Randy Johnson.

Ball one sailed high and away. Strike one was a 'hit me' fastball down the middle, with Johnson almost certainly having seen the highlights of last week's Mets-Reds action.

And then, what should have been strike two forever changed Mets fans' memory of Koo, a 35-year-old left-handed Korean import whom, to this point, had only been known for his repeated inability to retire the first batter of an inning.

Koo doubled over the head of Bernie Williams in right-center field and would come around to score on a daring baserunning play later in the inning, when Jose Reyes bunted to the right side of the infield and Koo, noticing that Jorge Posada was nowhere near the plate, made a mad dash for home.

"I saw it was open and I thought I could make it," Koo told reporters.

Koo, diving headfirst clad in his black windbreaker, actually might have been tagged by Posada on the play. He might not. But home plate umpire Chuck Meriwether said Koo was safe, the Mets dugout erupted, and suddenly Mr. Koo was the flavor of the day.

Notes, Quotes

IN OTHER NEWS: Koo's memorable race around the bases overshadowed a fine effort by Benson in his introduction to Subway Series action. Over six shutout innings, Benson (2-1) limited the Yankees to just three hits, walking three and striking out three to earn his second victory of the season.

"He might not get another hit for the rest of his career, so I don't care if he steals the spotlight on a double he smoked," Benson told reporters.

Reyes paced the Mets with a four-RBI day, while David Wright contributed a pair of doubles to the Amazins' attack. Miguel Cairo launched the day's lone long ball, homering off of Johnson with one out in the seventh inning.

INJURY REPORT: Carlos Beltran and Kaz Matsui both left the game before the top of the sixth inning – Beltran with a strained right quad, Matsui with a strained right trapezoid.

Beltran is unlikely to play Sunday (he has been bothered by the quad for the better part of a month), but Matsui may be available.

RUNNING TALLY: With Saturday's win, the Mets improved to 61-90-1 against the Yankees, a tally that includes Mayor's Trophy games and the 2000 World Series. Limited strictly to regular season Interleague play, the Mets are 17-27 against the Mets.

On Deck

Sunday brings us a rubber game in this first trip on the Subway Series, and it figures to be a memorable matchup – Pedro Martinez (4-1, 3.38) taking the hill against his daddies for the first time since he shed his Boston Red Sox uniform.

Martinez was questionable earlier in the week after a cortisone shot was administered to his inflamed right hip – Pedro was originally scheduled to go Friday against Kevin Brown – but after throwing a bullpen session on Thursday, Martinez earned the confidence of manager Willie Randolph, who actually used backup starter Aaron Heilman in relief on Friday.

As with all things Pedro, Martinez makes himself the center of attention, so you might not even notice that Carl Pavano (3-2, 4.00) is on the rubber for the Yankees. The Mets hope they will, though.

Contact Bryan Hoch at metsinsidepitch@aol.com.


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