July 9, 1999: Piazza's Homer Puts Away Yankees

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Date: July 9, 1999
Mets starter: Al Leiter
Mets: 5
Yankees: 2
Winning pitcher: Al Leiter
Key player(s): Al Leiter, John Olerud, Mike Piazza
Key play: Olerud’s and Piazza’s home runs

The Mets faced the Yankees on a Friday night at Shea Stadium. The teams played the opener of a Subway Series. Mike Piazza hit a tie-breaking, three-run homer to lift the Mets to a 5-2 win.

After a scoreless first inning, Mets’ starter Al Leiter pitched a perfect top of the second. Brian McRae doubled against the Yanks’ Roger Clemens with one out in the bottom half. Roger Cedeno flied out to center fielder Bernie Williams and a single by Rey Ordonez brought home McRae for a 1-0 Mets lead. Clemens then struck out Leiter to end the inning.

Chad Curtis drew a walk to open the top of the third. Curtis advanced to second base on Clemens’ sacrifice bunt and came around to score on a single by Chuck Knoblauch. Derek Jeter and Paul O’Neill hit consecutive force play ground balls to third baseman Robin Ventura and shortstop Ordonez, respectively, for the inning’s final outs. With two outs in the bottom half, John Olerud homered to give the Mets a 2-1 lead. Clemens then got Piazza to ground out to third baseman Scott Brosius and finish off the inning.

Leiter and Clemens each hurled scoreless fourth and fifth innings. Jeter got a leadoff single in the top of the sixth. O’Neill followed with a double to drive home Jeter and tie the game at 2-2. Williams was retired on a grounder to Ordonez. With Brosius at bat, O’Neill was caught stealing third on catcher Piazza’s throw to Ventura. Brosius singled and Leiter retired Tino Martinez on a fly ball to left fielder Rickey Henderson to close out the inning.

Edgardo Alfonzo hit a single to begin the bottom of the sixth. Olerud walked and Piazza slugged a homer to put the Mets ahead by three runs. Ventura was retired on a fly ball to Williams. McRae grounded out to shortstop Jeter and a single by Cedeno ensued. Ordonez singled to send Cedeno to third base and stole second. Clemens then fanned Leiter for the inning’s third out.

Leiter surrendered only a walk to Curtis in the top of the seventh. Yankees’ reliever Jason Grimsley pitched a scoreless bottom half and Leiter set down the side in order in the top of the eighth. Cedeno hit a one-out double in the bottom of the inning. Roger moved to third base on a wild pitch and Ordonez went down on strikes. Grimsley then retired pinch-hitter Matt Franco on a pop-up to Brosius for the final out of the inning.

Brosius doubled against Mets’ reliever Armando Benitez to lead off the top of the ninth. Martinez was struck out and Jorge Posada flied out to center fielder McRae. Curtis walked and a wild pitch advanced the runners to second and third base. Benitez then fanned pinch-hitter Chili Davis to end the game. The Mets had a victory to start the intra-city series.