Can't Touch This: Mets Hang On And Beat Twins 3-2

As soon as the ball left Mike Piazza's bat in the sixth inning, it became a foot race between Twins center fielder Torii Hunter and the ball to the fence. Hunter actually won the race, but as he leaped and caught the ball, his momentum slammed him into both Jacque Jones, the left fielder, who was sliding to avoid a full-blown collision, and the wall. This was enough to jar his glove, with the ball still in it, off his hand and over the fence.

He stood there with both an amazed and dejected look on his face as Piazza circled the bases and Shea celebrated. Later in the game Edgardo Alfonzo hit a two-run home run that neither fielder would be able to come close to catching and Steve Trachsel carried a no-hitter into the seventh inning before giving up a hit. Trachsel would be within two outs of a complete game shutout when he had to give way to Armando Benitez, who once again caused heartburn for Mets fans by giving up two runs and had the winning runs on board before striking out Hunter to end the game as the Mets won 3-2 to take two of three from the Twins.

It was apparent that Trachsel had his very good stuff with him, as he quickly established a rhythm with his curveball, consistently throwing it for strikes to get ahead of hitters. On the other side, Eric Milton was doing a good job of stymieing the Mets, even while pitching on one leg. He held the Mets to one hit through four innings, but he strained himself somehow and developed a limp walking off the mound at the end of each inning, and by the fourth, it was so pronounced that Ron Gardenhire, the Twins manager, took him out of the game and put in Ron Fiore.

Fiore looked every bit as dominating until Piazza's solo home run. He settled down and pitched until the seventh inning, when he was yanked for J.C. Romero.

Trachsel was cruising until the seventh, when he gave up a one-out single to Cristian Guzman. Mets fans stood and applauded Trachsel's efforts. Trachsel then got out of the inning without giving up any more hits.

LaTroy Hawkins came in the eighth and the Mets scored their next two runs when Trachsel, whom Bobby Valentine decided to keep in the game, singled, and after Roberto Alomar was unable to advance Trachsel, flying to deep center field, with Hunter actually catching it right in front of the 410 sign in center, Alfonzo then hit a ball to left that neither Jones nor Hunter would have had any chance of losing a glove over, with it landing in the bleacher area for a two run home-run.

Trachsel wanted his complete game, but unfortunately it was not to be. After he got a quick first out, the Twins were able to string together three consecutive hits to load the bases. That was it for Trachsel, as Benitez came in. With Trachsel looking on anxiously, Benitez was able to get Doug Mientkiewicz to hit a infield fly for the second out, but after he got a two-strike count on Corey Koskie, who was 1 for his last 26 (Mets fans knew he was going to get a hit as soon as that graphic was shown), have gave up a two-run double, that whittled the lead to 3-2. With first base open, and the tying and winning runs on base, the Mets still elected to pitch to Hunter, a very dangerous hitter, but very strikeout-prone. With Mets fans popping antacids, Benitez rewarded Valentine for his faith by striking out Hunter to record his seventeenth save of the season.

Notes


-Both Mo Vaughn and Jeromy Burnitz were out of the starting line-up, due to the tough lefty Milton pitching. Both came into the game later after Milton left. Vaughn came in the sixth as a pinch-hitter and flied out to deep right. He played first base for the rest of the game. Burnitz pinch-hit in the seventh, and struck out.
-The Kansas City Royals will come to Shea on Friday for a three-game set. Shawn Estes (3-5, 4.38 E.R.A) will try to follow up his stellar outing against the Yankees while Darrell May (2-4, 5.20 E.R.A.) will take the mound for the Royals.

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