June 2, 2000: Three Homers Down Rays

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Date: June 2, 2000
Mets starter: Glendon Rusch
Mets: 5
Devil Rays: 3
Winning pitcher: Glendon Rusch
Key player(s): Jay Payton, Todd Pratt, Todd Zeile
Key play: Mets’ home runs

The Mets faced the Devil Rays on a Friday night at Shea Stadium. The teams played the opener of a three-game series. The Mets slugged three home runs that produced a 5-3 win over Tampa Bay.

Glendon Rusch and the Rays’ Albie Lopez each started the game with two scoreless innings pitched. Rusch set down the side in order in the top of the third and Jay Payton homered to lead off the bottom half. Kurt Abbott took a called third strike and Rusch grounded out to third baseman Vinny Castilla. Melvin Mora got a bunt single and Lopez retired Derek Bell on a grounder to second baseman Miguel Cairo to end the inning.

Gerald Williams doubled to lead off the top of the fourth. Williams advanced to third base after Jose Guillen’s fly out to right fielder Bell and came home on a single by Fred McGriff. Castilla popped out to second baseman Edgardo Alfonzo and a strikeout of Mike DiFelice closed out the inning. Lopez hurled a perfect bottom half and Rusch retired all three Tampa Bay batters in the top of the fifth. To begin the bottom of the inning, Todd Pratt hit a home run for a 2-1 Mets lead. Payton was struck out and Abbott grounded out to shortstop Felix Martinez. Lopez then issued a walk to Rusch and got Mora on a force play ground ball to Martinez for the inning’s third out.

Randy Winn singled to lead off the top of the sixth. Winn stole second base and Williams lined out to left fielder Mora. Guillen grounded out to Alfonzo and a home run by McGriff (the 400th of his career) put the Devil Rays ahead, 3-2. Rusch retired Castilla on a grounder to shortstop Abbott to end the inning and Alfonzo got a one-out double against Tampa Bay reliever Rick White in the bottom half. Robin Ventura drew a walk and Todd Zeile slugged a homer to give the Mets a two-run lead. Pratt was hit by a pitch and Payton grounded out to Castilla. White then retired Abbott on a grounder to Martinez to finish off the inning.

Difelice singled against Rusch to open the top of the seventh. Mets’ reliever Pat Mahomes retired Cairo on a fly ball to center fielder Payton and got Martinez to hit a force play ground ball to first baseman Zeile. Pinch-hitter Steve Cox hit a single and a wild pitch advanced Martinez to third base. Winn drew a walk to load the bases and Mahomes retired Williams on an inning-ending fly ball to Payton. Rays’ reliever Mark Guthrie then hurled a perfect bottom half.

Mets’ reliever John Franco retired the side in order in the top of the eighth. Guthrie set down the Mets 1-2-3 in the bottom half and New York’s Armando Benitez threw a called third strike past Difelice to start the top of the ninth. Cairo drew a walk and went to second base on defensive indifference. Pinch-hitter Bubba Trammell popped out to Alfonzo and a walk to Cox ensued. Benitez then fanned pinch-hitter Greg Vaughn for the final out of the game. The Mets had a victory on the strength of three homers.