1999: During the Mets’ miserable 8-game losing streak in late May/early June, right after Bobby Valentine saw the three closest members of his coaching staff get the axe, the manager insisted his team could win 40 of its next 55 games, and if they didn’t, he should be fired. This date marks 55th game since that insane pronouncement, and in the previous 54 games, the Mets had won 39. A win tonight means Valentine’s prophecy will come true.
To begin their homestand, the Mets welcome the Dodgers to Shea for the first time in 1999. This means a return of Valentine’s old nemesis Todd Hundley, who receives a hearty ovation from the crowd in his first at bat. (Asked if it would be odd to be on the same field as Hundley again, Valentine responds, “Why would I give a shit?”) Hundley gets even more cheers as he strikes out three times against Octavio Dotel, who bounces back nicely from an awful start in Chicago. The only run against him comes in the top of the third when he loses control and focus in the top of the third, allowing a two-out single to the opposing pitcher, Chan Ho Park, followed a hit batter, a walk, and a balk.
The Mets tie things up in the bottom half when Roger Cedeno singles, steals second and third, then scores on a sac fly. The next inning, Robin Ventura doubles, moves to third on a sac bunt, then scores on his own sac fly. It is all the offense the Mets need, though Armando Benitez makes things far too interesting by allowing the tying and go-ahead runs to reach base in the ninth with one out. He escapes danger with two Ks to cap the Mets’ 2-1 win over LA.
2000: The Mets fail to complete a sweep in Arizona, losing to the Diamondbacks 9-5 in a game that Bobby Valentine likens to “a long day in a dentist’s chair.” Glendon Rusch feels uncomfortable all game and was tagged for five runs in four innings of work, while the bullpen gave up two homers to put the game out of reach. Mike Piazza sat out the game, nursing his sprained knee. The Mets’ road trip will continue with four in Houston, marking their first visit to what is currently known as Enron Field.