Opening Day for the New York Mets in 2000 began with a two-game series against the Chicago Cubs at the Tokyo Dome in Japan and ended with a dramatic hit.
The 2000 New York Mets opened their season far from the friendly confines of Shea Stadium. Across at least one ocean and a continent depending on which direction you’d choose to take, the Mets began their 2000 season in Japan against the Chicago Cubs.
On March 29, 2000, at the Tokyo Dome in the heart of Japan, these two teams ushered in a new season of baseball.
Mike Hampton got things started in this two-game series. Unfortunately, the lefty’s time with the Mets didn’t get off to a brilliant beginning.
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Hampton walked the leadoff hitter, Eric Young, who then stole second base. Damon Buford followed up with a single, putting the Mets in a 1-0 hole before a single out was recorded.
If this was a sign of things to come for the 2000 team, fans would have wished they stayed in Tokyo. Fortunately, twenty years later, we can look back at this beginning and know things got much better.
Hampton hit the next batter but managed to get Sammy Sosa to hit into a double play. He was able to escape the inning with a fly ball out to the next hitter, ending any further damage from occurring. Could the Mets comeback?
Throughout his five innings, Hampton continued to flirt with danger. He walked nine batters in this affair, somehow escaping with only two runs allowed. Unfortunately, Cubs starter Jon Lieber was far better with only a single run allowed in his seven frames.
The Mets bats didn’t roll over and die in this one. A big two-run home run in the eighth inning from Mike Piazza put them within reach, making it a 5-3 game. It just wasn’t enough, though. New York dropped the opener in the Far East.
The next day, with the Mets acting as the road team in this affair, both teams battled for 14 innings. Each team scored a run in the fifth inning. New York got theirs on a Rickey Henderson sacrifice fly. Chicago tied it up with a run-scoring double-play groundout.
The starters in this matchup, Rick Reed and Kyle Farnsworth, came prepared. Reed starred for the Amazins by giving them eight innings. The lone run that did score was unearned, further adding to his mastery on the day. The bullpen also did their job, keeping the Cubs scoreless for their five innings of work.
It was in the top of the 14th when the tie was finally broken. With two outs and the bases juiced, Benny Agbayani gave his team the first slam of the year. On a single pitch from Danny Young, the game suddenly turned.
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New York managed to hold onto the lead and take the second game of the year. They left Tokyo with an even 1-1 record and the first few pages of a pennant-winning season in the books.