Mets Overcome Gaffes and Royals Heroics to Win

It looked like it was going to be another one of those games on Sunday for the underachieving Mets: after starting off strongly, the starting pitching ran out of gas in the sixth inning and the offense looked to be sputtering. Fortunately the Mets decide to rewrite the ending as they rallied from a 4-1 deficit to win on a muggy Sunday afternoon and take two out of three from the woeful Kansas City Royals.

For the second day in a row, the Mets got the early lead, when Piazza hit a single that scored Roberto Alomar, who had singled and advanced to third on Timo Perez's single. Unfortunately Perez made his second straight baserunning gaffe (in the first, he didn't pick up Mike Piazza's fly ball and was easily doubled up at first), by trying to go to third and wound up getting tagged out in a rundown.

Jeff D'Amico was sailing along until he just ran out of gas in the sixth inning. After retiring Shawn Sedlacek, the opposing pitcher, and Alex Gomez, he ran into big trouble. Neifi Perez singled to right center, and then Carlos Beltran doubled, with Perez advancing to third. Then D'Amico intentionally walked Mike Sweeney, who is second in the American League in batting average. The strategy backfired as Joe Randa ripped a ball over a leaping Edgardo Alfonzo's head to single in both Perez and Beltran to give the Royals a 2-1 lead. Raul Ibanez, who has been tormenting the Mets this series, then singled in Sweeney and the score was 3-1. After D'Amico walked Luis Alicea, that was it for him, and Mark Guthrie came in. Guthrie got Brent Mayne to hit a ball towards third, but it wasa tough play for Alfonzo, and Ibanez scored to make it 4-1.

Ibanez continued his torture of the Mets by robbing Alfonzo of a game-tying home run in the sixth by perfectly timing a leap at the wall.

Selacek, a rookie, left the game in the seventh in position to get his first major league win, but the Mets bided their time on the Royals relievers. Corey Bailey came in, and Jeromy Burnitz hit a rare opposite field double. John Valentin, starting at shortstop, then hit a two-run home run to bring the Mets within one.

Jason Grimsley, the former Yankee, came in the game in the eighth, and Mets pounced on his weakness: lack of control. After Piazza had his bat shattered on a ground ball, Mo Vaughn worked out a walk, and was pinch-run for by Joe McEwing. Alfonzo flied out to right for the second out of the inning. Burnitz, showing improvement after new hitting coach Chris Chambliss came aboard, singled. Grimsley then walked Valentin, who was pinch-run for by Rey Ordonez. The bases were now loaded and Roger Cedeno came to the plate. Cedeno knew that Grimsley was going to be throwing fastballs, and sat on it. He got his pitch and hit a looping single to left that scored both McEwing and Burnitz.

Armando Benitez came in the ninth inning and struck out two-pinch hitters to end the game and record his eighteenth save of the season.

Notes


-Ordonez did not start, but played in the ninth inning after pinch-running for Valentin
-Scott Strickland, who pitched in the eighth, got the win to raise his record to 6-3. Grimsley got the loss and fell to 2-3.
-Monday starts an important four-game series with the Atlanta Braves. Al Leiter (7-6, 3.06 E.R.A.) will pitch against Kevin Millwood (4-6,4.02 E.R.A.)

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