April 12, 1999: Jones Homers in Home-Opening Win

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Date: April 12, 1999
Mets starter: Bobby Jones
Mets: 8
Marlins: 1
Winning pitcher: Bobby Jones
Key player(s): Bobby Jones, Bobby Bonilla, Robin Ventura
Key play: Jones’ home run, Ventura’s double

The Mets began their home season with a game against the Marlins. A crowd of 52,052 came out to Shea Stadium on a Monday afternoon. Bobby Jones pitched seven innings and hit his first major league home run to lead the Mets to an 8-1 win over Florida.

Jones and Marlins’ starter Livan Hernandez each pitched a perfect first inning. Bobby retired the Fish in order again in the top of the second and back-to-back singles by Bobby Bonilla and Robin Ventura began the bottom half. Brian McRae hit into a force play on which shortstop Alex Gonzalez made an errant throw that allowed Bonilla to score. Hernandez retired Todd Pratt on a pop-up to first baseman Derrek Lee and walked Rey Ordonez. Jones then grounded out to Lee to end the inning.

For Florida, Dave Berg singled with one out in the top of the third. A sacrifice bunt by Hernandez advanced Berg to second base. Luis Castillo followed with a triple to bring home Berg and tie the game at 1-1. Gonzalez hit a grounder to shortstop Ordonez for the final out of the inning. The Mets failed to score in the bottom half and each team was shut down on one hit in the fourth. Jones then retired the Marlins 1-2-3 in the top of the fifth inning.

Ordonez flied out to right fielder Mark Kotsay to open the bottom of the fifth. Jones followed with a home run to put the Mets ahead, 2-1. Hernandez issued a walk to Rickey Henderson and struck out Edgardo Alfonzo. Henderson stole second base and John Olerud walked. Bonilla delivered a single that scored Henderson and sent Olerud to third. An ensuing double by Robin Ventura drove in Olerud and Bonilla for a 5-1 Mets lead. Marlins’ reliever Braden Looper came in and got McRae for an inning-ending fly out to Kotsay. In the sixth and seventh, Jones and Looper each pitched scoreless ball. Mets’ reliever Turk Wendell then shut down Florida on one hit in the top of the eighth inning.

Marlins’ reliever Kirt Ojala walked Roger Cedeno to begin the bottom of the eighth. Cedeno got around to third base on consecutive ground outs by Ventura and McRae. Pratt singled to score Cedeno for the Mets’ sixth run and Ordonez also singled. Pinch-hitter Mike Kinkade got his first major league hit with a double that plated Pratt and Ordonez. Ojala then retired Henderson on a ground ball to third baseman Berg to end the inning.

Mets’ reliever Rigo Beltran came in to pitch the top of the ninth. Beltran struck out Todd Dunwoody and followed up with a strikeout of Preston Wilson. Rigo then fanned pinch-hitter Bruce Aven to close out the game. The Mets had a home-opening victory as Jones’ own home run proved to be the game-winner.