September 17, 2001: Mets Defeat Pirates with 3-Run 9th

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Date: September 17, 2001
Mets starter: Al Leiter
Mets: 4
Pirates: 1
Winning pitcher: John Franco
Key player(s): Rey Ordonez, Mark Johnson, Tsuyoshi Shinjo
Key play: Ordonez’s RBI single, Johnson’s two-run double

The Mets faced the Pirates on a Monday night in Pittsburgh. The teams played on the first day of Major League Baseball following the September 11 attacks on the United States. The Mets scored three runs in the ninth inning for a 4-1 win over the Bucs.

Al Leiter and Pittsburgh’s Todd Ritchie each hurled two scoreless innings to start the game. Rey Ordonez singled to lead off the top of the third. Ordonez advanced to second base on Leiter’s ground out to second baseman Warren Morris. Ritchie threw a wild pitch to send Ordonez to third and hit Matt Lawton with a pitch. Lawton stole second and Desi Relaford went down on strikes. Mike Piazza was walked intentionally to load the bases. A walk to Tsuyoshi Shinjo forced home Ordonez with the first run of the game. Ritchie fanned Robin Ventura to end the inning. Leiter then pitched a perfect bottom half.

After a scoreless fourth inning, Ritchie shut down the Mets in the top of the fifth. Kevin Young drew a walk and advanced to second base on a balk by Leiter to open the bottom half. Gary Matthews Jr. hit with a ground ball on which Young was caught and tagged out by second baseman Relaford. Morris doubled to put Pirates runners on second and third base. Pinch-hitter Craig Wilson grounded out to third baseman Ventura to drive home Matthews and tie the game. Leiter then retired Chad Hermansen on an inning-ending fly ball to right fielder Lawton.

Pittsburgh reliever Josias Manzanillo set down the Mets in order in the sixth and seventh innings. Leiter responded with a pair of scoreless bottom halves. For the Bucs, Scott Sauerbeck and Mike Fetters combined to pitch a perfect top of the eighth. John Franco came in to pitch for the Mets and retired the Bucs 1-2-3 in the bottom of the inning. Fetters hit Shinjo with a pitch to begin the top of the ninth. Shinjo stole second base and Ventura fouled out to catcher Jason Kendall. Todd Zeile flied out to center fielder Matthews and a walk to Jay Payton ensued. Ordonez singled to score Shinjo and give the Mets a 2-1 lead. Pinch-hitter Mark Johnson followed with a double to bring home Payton and Ordonez. Pirates’ reliever Joe Beimel then got Lawton to fly out to left fielder Brian Giles and end the inning.

Mets’ reliever Armando Benitez retired Aramis Ramirez on a grounder to shortstop Ordonez to start the bottom of the ninth. Kendall singled and stole second base. Benitez then recorded strikeouts of Young and Matthews to finish off the game. The Mets had a victory to resume the season after the tragic events that shook the nation.

Notes

  • This game was the beginning of a series that had been scheduled to be played in New York. The Mets and Pirates were supposed to play in Pittsburgh the week of September 11, but all Major League games were shut down due to the national tragedy. With Shea Stadium being used for World Trade Center relief effort, the series for this week was shifted to Pittsburgh. The games at Shea were rescheduled and played from October 1 to October 3.