June 25, 2003: Benitez Foils the Fish

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Date: June 25, 2003
Mets starter: Steve Trachsel
Mets: 6
Marlins: 3
Winning pitcher: Steve Trachsel
Key player(s): Jose Reyes, Jeromy Burnitz, Armando Benitez
Key play: Reyes’ two singles, Burnitz’s home run, Benitez’s strikeouts

The Mets faced the Marlins on a Wednesday night at Shea Stadium. The teams played in front of 22,563 fans on hand. Armando Benitez stopped a Florida comeback effort with clutch relief to nail down a 6-3 Mets win over the Fish.

With one out in the top of the first inning, Luis Castillo singled against Mets’ starter Steve Trachsel. Castillo stole second base and Ivan Rodriguez popped out to first baseman Jason Phillips. An ensuing home run by Mike Lowell gave the Marlins a 2-0 lead. Juan Encarnacion doubled to center field and Derrek Lee grounded out to shortstop Jose Reyes to end the inning. Florida’s Mark Redman then pitched a scoreless bottom half.

Trachsel shut down the Fish in the top of the second. Phillips and Vance Wilson began the bottom of the inning with back-to-back singles. A wild pitched advanced the runners to second and third base before Tsuyoshi Shinjo grounded out to third baseman Lowell. Reyes singled to drive home Phillips and a sacrifice fly by Trachsel scored Wilson from third to tie the game. Redman then walked Roger Cedeno and got Roberto Alomar on a force play grounder to Lowell that ended the inning.

Leading off the top of the third, Rodriguez hit a home run to put the Marlins back on top. Lowell went down on strikes and Encarnacion doubled to left field. Trachsel struck out Lee and retired Alex Gonzalez on an inning-ending ground ball to third baseman Ty Wigginton. With one out in the bottom half, Jeromy Burnitz homered to retie the game for the Mets. Redman then struck out Phillips and got Wilson on a pop-up to second baseman Castillo for the inning’s final out.

Trachsel and Redman each pitched scoreless ball in the fourth and fifth innings. Steve shut down the Fish again in the top of the sixth and consecutive singles by Burnitz and Phillips opened the bottom half. Wilson’s sacrifice bunt moved the runners to second and third and Shinjo was walked intentionally to load the bases. Reyes singled to drive home Burnitz and Phillips for a 5-3 Mets lead. A sacrifice bunt by Trachsel put Mets runners on second and third before Redman retired Cedeno on a ground ball to Lowell for the third out of the inning. Trachsel then set down all three Florida batters in the top of the seventh.

Alomar singled against Marlins’ reliever Blaine Neal to begin the bottom of the seventh inning. Wigginton hit a single and Burnitz grounded out to first baseman Lee to advance the runners to second and third base. Phillips was given an intentional walk to load the bases and Wilson hit a sacrifice fly that scored Alomar. Neal then retired Shinjo on a fly ball to center fielder Juan Pierre to close out the inning.

Rodriguez hit a double against Mets’ reliever David Weathers to lead off the top of the eighth. Lowell drew a walk and Encarnacion got an infield single that loaded the bases. Benitez came in to pitch for New York and recorded strikeouts of Lee and Gonzalez. Armando followed up by retiring Miguel Cabrera on an inning-ending fly ball to right fielder Burnitz. Tony Clark got a two-out single against Florida’s Tommy Phelps in the bottom half. Phelps then struck out pinch-hitter Joe McEwing to end the inning.

Pinch-hitter Andy Fox grounded out to first baseman Clark to start the top of the ninth. Pierre was retired on a grounder to second baseman McEwing. Benitez then threw a called third strike past Castillo for the final out of the game. The Mets had a victory sealed with Armando’s solid relief.