The New York Mets have already given up hope on salvaging this season. But their young players are doing their best to ensure that they won’t be rebuilding for long.
Fresh off a two-game sweep of the Philadelphia Phillies, the new-look Mets look to tie a season high with their third straight win in the opener of a two-game set with the Montreal Expos at Olympic Stadium.
On Tuesday, rookies Ty Wigginton and Jason Phillips had two RBIs to lead the Mets to a 7-5 win over the Phillies. The sweep was just the second of the season for the struggling Mets—they took three straight from the Cincinnati Reds earlier this month—and came on the heels of four straight losses to the NL East-leading Atlanta Braves.
“You have to like what you see,” Mets manager Art Howe said. “It’s nice to have those two weapons at the top.”
The Mets started the season with high hopes, adding two-time NL Cy Young winner Tom Glavine and Cliff Floyd to a lineup that already included stars like Mike Piazza, Roberto Alomar, Mo Vaughn and Jeromy Burnitz.
But after a slow start marked by injuries to Piazza and Vaughn, general manager Steve Phillips was fired and interim GM Jim Duquette traded away Alomar, Burnitz and closer Armando Benitez.
The Mets have nine rookies on their roster, including two in the rotation, and four regulars.
“It’s an ongoing process,” said Jason Phillips, who is hitting .429 (15-for-35) in his last nine games with three homers, seven RBIs and seven runs. “We have to keep improving.”
The Expos come in off Tuesday’s 9-1 loss to the Florida Marlins—their fourth straight setback.
Vladimir Guerrero, who was activated from the disabled list Monday, knocked in Montreal’s only run on a sacrifice fly in the fourth inning.
STANDINGS: Mets - 5th place, 24 GB, NL East. Expos - 4th place, 16 1/2 GB, NL East.
METS PROBABLE STARTER: Jae Weong Seo (5-6, 3.83 ERA). Seo gave up five runs—four earned—and five hits in four innings of an 11-4 loss to the Atlanta Braves. It was the rookie’s fourth straight loss. In three career starts against the Expos, Seo is 0-2 with a 6.59 ERA.
EXPOS PROBABLE STARTER: Javier Vazquez (7-6, 3.75 ERA). On Friday, Vazquez gave up one earned run and nine hits in a complete-game 3-1 win over the Phillies. It was Vazquez’s first victory since June 10 and first complete game since June 5, 2002. He is 6-5 with a 3.27 ERA in 16 career starts against the Mets.
OFFENSIVE LEADERS: Mets - Wigginton, .274 avg. and 53 runs; Floyd, 16 HRs and 52 RBIs; Wigginton, 53 runs; Wigginton and Roger Cedeno, 7 SBs. Expos - Jose Vidro, .333 avg.; Orlando Cabrera, 13 HRs, 52 RBIs and 63 runs; Endy Chavez, 15 SBs.
SEASON SERIES: Expos, 6-4.
STREAKS AND NOTES: Mets - The Mets are 20-28 against the NL East this season. … LHP John Franco, who picked up his first save since June 19, 2001 on Monday, entered Tuesday’s game in the ninth with a chance for another, but left after allowing an RBI double to 1B Jim Thome and a single to RF Bobby Abreu. Franco, who has 423 career saves, is second on the all-time list behind Lee Smith (478). … OF Timo Perez, who suffered a mild strain in his left calf Monday, sat out Tuesday’s game and is listed as day-to-day. Expos - RHP Zach Day (tendinitis) is expected to return from the disabled list Saturday to pitch against Atlanta. … RHP Orlando “El Duque” Hernandez, who has yet to pitch for the Expos this season because of arm surgery, said he hopes to begin short tossing. … RHP Rocky Biddle, who pulled a muscle in his rib cage Thursday, has been cleared to pitch out of the bullpen Tuesday.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Mets - 22-29 on the road; Expos - 28-18 at home.
INJURIES: Mets - C Piazza (groin), 15-day DL; 1B Vaughn (knee), 60-day DL; RHP Pedro Astacio (shoulder), 60-day DL; RHP Grant Roberts (shoulder), 60-day DL; RHP Scott Strickland (groin), 60-day DL; OF Perez (calf), day-to-day. Expos - INF Fernando Tatis (chest), 15-day DL; RHP Day (tendinitis), 15-day DL; RHP Hernandez (shoulder), 15-day DL; RHP Dan Smith (shoulder), 15-day DL; LHP Scott Stewart (appendecitis), 15-day DL; RHP Tony Armas Jr. (shoulder), 60-day DL.