On this date in 2000, New York baseball fans took the 7 train to the Game (Three) between the Mets and the Yankees. The bombers were riding a 14-game winning streak in the Fall Classic, including sweeps in '98 and '99 and the opening pair of contests in the Bronx. God. Damn. Them.
As befits the Yanks' overweening sense of royalty, El Duque, presiding, obliged the natives by allowing a solo home run to Robin Ventura in the second inning. But it only whetted the appetite. Though El Duque would strike out fourteen, Todd Zeile doubled home Mike Piazza in the sixth inning and the Mets went into the home eighth with a 2-2 tie. Rick Reed had also fanned a mess of batters (eight), and ducked out after the sixth inning to make way for scoreless relief from Wendell, Cook, and Franco. Nobody threw a bat at anybody.
Orlando Hernandez to this point had started nine playoff games for the Yankees and pitched in relief once. In those games, the Yankees were 10-0. In the top of the eighth his spot in the order was nearing, but he pleaded with Joe Torre to keep him in the game. "He deserved a right to get a decision in this game," Torree decided. #pitcherwins
Zeile began the eighth-inning rally by bouncing a single just over Jeter's glove. Then Benny Agbayani got a fastball in the heart of the plate, and didn't miss. His liner to left-center rolled all the way to the wall, allowing Zeile to chug home from first. The Mets were leading, Shea rocking. Jay Payton legged out an infield hit -- knocking El Duque from the game -- and an insurance run came by way of Bubba Trammel's sac fly. 4-2 Mets.
The closing assignment fell to Armando Benitez, who immediately allowed a single and thus the tying run to reach the plate. But Benitez retired the next batter with a fly-out to center, then struck out Captain Clutch with a corner-painting fastball. Five pitches later and David Justice sent up a can of corn for the third out.
The Yankees' Subway Series Express had halted in Queens.
Note: If these seem familiar to you, an early edition of yesterday's "This Date" featured the wrong crop of birthdays. Click here if you missed reading about Kaz Matsui, Al Leiter, and Randy Tate. And if they're pissed off you didn't call, blame it on Pack. I don't mind.
- Twins' manager Ron Gardenhire, 55 today, played five seasons in the bigs, all of them with the Mets, four of them plagued with injury. Appearing everywhere in the infield but first, Ron couldn't hit a lick. He was relegated to the minors in 1986 and traded -- fatefully, as it turned out -- to Minnesota the next year.
- Junior Ortiz, 54 today, caught 100+ games for the Mets across '84 and '85 and had a Nickean OPS of .522. Actually, I just checked my numbers and Nickeas is more than 50 points worse. Staggering.
- Omar Quintanilla, 31 today, filled a hole in this year's middle infield when the understudy of the understudy's understudy went down to injury, and the (mostly) minor leaguer stepped up and swung a league-average bat in 29 games. He was dumped form the roster -- and to the Orioles -- to make room for Omar Quintanilla's inferior, Jason Bay.
- Left-handed reliever Mike Matthews, 39 today, closed the book on an undistinguished six-year career pitching five innings for the 2005 Mets and allowing six runs to score.