April 1, 2002: Mets Beat Pirates in Opener

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Date: April 1, 2002
Mets starter: Al Leiter
Mets: 6
Pirates: 2
Winning pitcher: Al Leiter
Key player(s): Jay Payton
Key play: Mets' 3-runs in 2nd

The Mets opened the new season on a Monday afternoon. A crowd of 53,734 showed up on a cool day at Shea Stadium. The Mets defeated the Pirates, 6-2.

Al Leiter started the game with two hitless innings for the Mets. In the bottom of the second, Mike Piazza and Edgardo Alfonzo led off with singles and Jeromy Burnitz was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Pittsburgh starter Ron Villone then walked Jay Payton to force home Piazza and a sacrifice fly by Rey Ordonez scored Alfonzo. Villone struck out Leiter before Roger Cedeno doubled to bring in Burnitz for a 3-0 Mets lead.

The Pirates scored in the top of the third inning when Pokey Reese came home on an error by Leiter. The Mets regained their three-run lead on Payton's solo homer in the bottom of the fourth. Leiter and reliever David Weathers then combined for four scoreless innings from the fifth to the eighth.

The Mets loaded the bases with two out in the bottom of the eighth. Roberto Alomar singled off Pirates' reliever Scott Sauerbeck to score Payton and Ordonez and extend the Met lead to 6-1. Sauerbeck then got Mo Vaughn for the twelfth strikeout of the game by the Pittsburgh pitchers.

With one out in the ninth, Armando Benitez allowed a run on a sacrifice fly by Abraham Nunez. He then struck out Reese to close out the game. The Mets' season got started off with a victory.