Mets 5, Marlins 2
Piazza hit his third homer in two days and drove in four runs Sunday, sending New York to a 5-2 victory over the Florida Marlins.
“I feel very comfortable at the plate,” Piazza said. “I’m seeing the ball well. I’m putting pretty good swings on the ball. I’m using the whole field, I can’t complain.”
Manager Art Howe thought about giving Piazza a day off this weekend but the catcher-turned-first baseman was in the lineup both days.
“If they pitched a right-hander yesterday, he probably would have sat,” Howe said. “But since it was a left-hander, his eyes lit up and he said he’d like to play. He told me a couple of days ago he wanted to play Sunday.”
Sunday often was a day off when Piazza was a full-time catcher. Now, at first base, he remains in the lineup, a good thing for the Mets.
“Now he’s finding out what he was missing when he didn’t play on Sunday,” Howe said.
Al Leiter pitched two-hit ball for 5 2-3 scoreless innings to help New York gain a split of the four-game series. The Mets finished 6-6 during a key stretch of games against division rivals Philadelphia and Florida.
“We showed we’re capable of playing with everybody,” Howe said. “Psychologically, it’s been good for us.”
Piazza hit a two-run double in the first inning and his 371st home run in the fifth. His 13th homer of the season put him in 56th place on the career list, one in front of former Mets manager Gil Hodges and four back of Rocky Colavito.
Leiter (2-2) worked around six walks and threw 114 pitches in his second start since returning from the disabled list. He gave up a pair of hits to the Marlins in the first, and struck out five.
Leiter said he senses a change in this Mets team.
“There is a feeling we are going to play a good game and we’ve got a chance to win every night,” he said. “I can’t say that was always the feeling.”
“You’ve got to make some pitches when the game’s on the line,” Looper said. “In that situation, you want to throw strikes. I made good pitches. They got hits on good pitches.”
The Mets bunched three hits for three runs in the first inning against Brad Penny (6-3), who dropped to 1-8 lifetime in 12 starts against New York.
Todd Zeile singled with one out, and Lowell booted a grounder to third by Shane Spencer for an error. Piazza doubled to right, scoring Zeile and Spencer. Piazza advanced to third on a long fly ball by Jason Phillips and scored on Karim Garcia’s bloop single to center.
In the fifth, Spencer came within a couple inches of a home run when his drive to right field bounced off the top of the wall and back into play for a double. Piazza followed by hitting a 1-1 pitch 410 feet to center for a two-run homer.
Florida manager Jack McKeon didn’t consider walking Piazza, who connected twice in a 7-6 loss Saturday.
“Not really,” McKeon said. “We’re down 3-0. Had it been the eighth, yeah. If my pitcher can’t get good hitters out … there’s only one way you’re going to learn to become a good pitcher. If you’re going to pitch in the big leagues, you should be able to get Piazza out.”
The Marlins’ two first-inning hits against Leiter traveled a total of about 50 feet. Pierre opened the game by beating out a first-pitch bunt down the first base line, then was thrown out trying to steal. Lowell then beat out a swinging bunt down the third base line. … After morning rain, the game started with temperatures of 58 degrees and 14 mph winds. … Leiter’s fourth-inning single was his third hit of the year. He had just one hit in 53 at-bats last season. … Garcia stole his first two bases since 1999. … Mets pitching coach Rick Peterson was ejected by plate umpire Ted Barrett forarguing balls and strikes in the seventh.