June 21, 1998: Franco's Relief Stifles the Fish

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Date: June 21, 1998
Mets starter: Al Leiter
Mets: 3
Marlins: 2
Winning pitcher: Al Leiter
Key player(s): Edgardo Alfonzo, John Franco
Key play: Alfonzo’s single, Franco’s strikeouts

The Mets faced the Marlins on a Sunday afternoon at Shea Stadium. The teams played the finale of a three-game series. John Franco successfully pitched out of a bases-loaded situation and recorded three strikeouts to save a 3-2 Mets win over Florida.

Mets’ starter Al Leiter retired the side in order in the top of the first. Edgardo Alfonzo drew a walk to lead off the bottom half. Bernard Gilkey singled and Mike Piazza’s fly out to right fielder John Wehner moved Alfonzo from second to third base. Edgardo scored on John Olerud’s ground out to second baseman Dave Berg for a 1-0 Mets lead. Fish starter Joe Fontenot then got Carlos Baerga on a grounder to Berg to end the inning.

Following a scoreless second, Mike Redmond singled to begin the top of the third. Fontenot hit a force play ground ball to first baseman Olerud and a strikeout of John Cangelosi ensued. Edgar Renteria hit a single and Berg singled to bring home Fontenot with the tying run. Todd Zeile drew a walk that loaded the bases and Leiter retired Cliff Floyd on an inning-ending fly ball to center fielder Brian McRae. Fontenot then set down the Mets in order in the bottom half.

Leiter yielded only a single to Redmond in the top of the fourth inning. Fontenot pitched a perfect bottom half and Berg drew a two-out walk in the top of the fifth. Zeile walked and Floyd followed with a single that drive home Berg and put the Marlins ahead, 2-1. Leiter fanned Derrek Lee for the inning’s final out and Butch Huskey reached on an error by third baseman Zeile to open the bottom half. McRae drew a walk and Rey Ordonez’s ground out to first baseman Lee advanced the runners to second and third. A wild pitch scored Huskey to retie the game and Leiter was struck out. Fontenot then chalked up a strikeout of Alfonzo on which catcher Redmond threw to Lee to complete the out and finish off the inning.

After a scoreless sixth, Leiter retired all three Florida batters in the top of the seventh. McRae singled to open the bottom of the inning. Ordonez’s sacrifice bunt moved McRae to second base and pinch-hitter Luis Lopez lined out to left fielder Floyd. Alfonzo got a single to plate McRae for a one-run Mets lead and Fontenot fanned Gilkey to close out the inning. New York relievers John Hudek and Dennis Cook issued singles to Zeile and Floyd, respectively, to begin the top of the eighth. Lee drew a walk to load the bases. Franco then came in to pitch for the Mets.

Franco got Wehner to hit a grounder on which he threw to catcher Piazza for a force out at home on Zeile. John followed up with strikeouts of Redmond and pinch-hitter Mark Kotsay to snuff out the Marlins’ scoring chance. Piazza singled against Florida reliever Brian Edmondson to lead off the bottom of the eighth. With the Fish’s Felix Heredia on the mound facing Olerud, pinch-runner Wayne Kirby was caught stealing on Redmond’s throw to shortstop Renteria. Olerud was retired on a fly ball to Floyd. Heredia then threw a called third strike past Baerga for the third out of the inning.

Cangelosi drew a walk to open the top of the ninth. Renteria hit a ground ball to second baseman Baerga for a double play. Franco then struck out Berg to end the game. The Mets had a series-closing victory that concluded with John’s clutch relief.