With Baseball Far From Players' Minds, Mets Lose

On a somber Saturday night, with the flags raised at half-mast for the St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Darryl Kile, who was found dead in his hotel room in Chicago, it was tough to have one's mind completely on baseball. Pedro Astacio, a former teammate of Kile's from when both played for the Colorado Rockies, might not have had his concentration, and pitched in one of his least effective outings, not making it through the sixth inning, as the Mets lost 5-1 to the Royals.

After Michael Tucker had robbed Roberto Alomar of a Leadoff home run, Tony Tarasco decided to hit one that Tucker couldn't catch, hitting a second –inning solo home run off of former Mets pitcher Paul Byrd that cleared the right field fence by plenty to give the Mets a 1-0 lead.

Bad luck plagued the Mets in the fourth inning. Astacio issued a two-out walk to Carlos Beltran, and then Mike Sweeney hit a ground ball up the middle that Alomar made a nice diving play to stop and then tried to do one of his routine acrobatic plays by shoveling the ball to Rey Ordonez, who stretched out like a first baseman to attempt to catch the ball. He couldn't hold on, and Sweeney was aboard with an infield single. Immediately after he missed the ball, Ordonez smacked the dirt with his hand in frustration. Soon, it was all the Mets who felt frustration as Raul Ibanez, who had been very unproductive as a number five hitter, hit a screaming line drive into the Mets bullpen for a three-run home run and a 3-1 lead. Astacio struck out Tucker to end the inning, but the damage was done.

It was Ibanez again in the sixth, hitting a run-scoring double to give the Royals a 4-1 lead. That was it for Astacio, as pitching coach Charlie Hough came out and indicated that he wanted to bring in lefty Bobby J. Jones. Jones, who was also a former teammate of Kile, pitched with a "D.K." stenciled on the side of his baseball cap, was in good form as he pitched into the eighth inning.

The eighth inning was another blow though, as he gave up a lead-off home run to Carlos Beltran to make it 5-1.

Roberto Hernandez came in the ninth and aside from giving up a double to Edgardo Alfonzo, muzzled the Mets to end the game.


-Mike Piazza was supposed to start the game, but after batting practice, he was scratched, and Vance Wilson started at catcher. Piazza pinch-hit in the sixth inning for Jeromy Burnitz and grounded out. He attempted to avoid a swipe tag at first and hit first base awkwardly, tumbling to the ground. He appeared to be fine.
-The win snapped an eight game losing streak for the Royals.
-Byrd, the only Royals starter over .500 raised his record to 9-5. Astacio fell to 7-3.
- Sunday's starters will be Jeff D'Amico (4-6, 4.18 E.R.A.) and Shawn Sedlacek (0-0, 3.18 E.R.A.)

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