Mets 7, Yankees 1
Quite an intimidating predicament for a left-handed hitting reliever in his second big league at-bat. The first one had been embarrassing enough, and this was about to become perhaps the biggest mismatch in baseball history.
“In the dugout, we were trying to figure out how many pitches it would take for him to get the bat off his shoulder,” David Wright said after he and Koo helped the New York Mets beat the Yankees 7-1 Saturday.
Then came the most stunning swing of the season—followed by an even more surprising dash to the plate.
Crack! A long drive to center field, way over Bernie Williams’ head for a leadoff double.
It was a jaw-dropping sight considering Koo’s first plate appearance against Cincinnati on Monday night—he stood at the edge of the batter’s box and watched three strikes go by, never taking the bat off his shoulder, seemingly terrified.
“I think everybody was kind of in a state of shock. I mean, to get your first major league hit off Randy Johnson,” Wright said. “If we fined him the last time he batted, we’ll take the fine off him for this time.”
And Koo was far from done.
He moved to third on Jose Reyes’ sacrifice, and took off for home when he noticed that nobody was covering the plate.
“Great instincts, man. He saw Jorge was up the line,” Mets manager Willie Randolph said. “I wouldn’t call him an athlete, but it was an athletic play. I’m glad he got that pinky in there.”
That did it. With a 3-0 lead, everyone on the Mets’ bench broke up laughing. Doug Mientkiewicz even fanned Koo with a towel.
“They said a lot of things, I just couldn’t understand what they were saying,” the South Korean lefty said through a translator. “I think they said, `Good job.”’
Or something like that—not to diminish the importance of Koo’s contribution (he also struck out all three batters he faced).
Miguel Cairo followed with his first home run for the Mets, and they added three in the eighth to even the Subway Series at a game apiece.
Kris Benson threw six-plus shutout innings, and Reyes drove in four runs. Wright had a pair of RBI doubles as the Mets roughed up Johnson for 12 hits.
“I tried to keep them at bay. We did the best we could. Kris pitched better than I did,” Johnson said. “I don’t put credence in the rivalry stuff. I go out and do the best I can regardless of what uniform I’m wearing.”
Bad baserunning cost the Yankees, who lost for only the second time in 13 games.
Each team lost a star player to injury. Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter left in the sixth after he was hit on the left elbow by Benson’s pitch. X-rays were negative and he was day to day.
Mets center fielder Carlos Beltran came out after the fifth because of a strained right quadriceps. And second baseman Kaz Matsui departed in the sixth with a strained upper back. He and Beltran were day to day.
Johnson (4-3) gave up four runs in 6 2-3 innings, striking out five after failing to fan a batter during his last start in Oakland. The 12 hits allowed were one short of his career worst set on May 10, 1999, with Arizona against Montreal.
“It’s tough to live up to yourself all the time. I know he’s not pleased where he’s at right now,” Yankees manager Joe Torre said.
Benson (2-1) was much better, giving up only three hits in his first career appearance against the Yankees. He has made four starts after missing the first month of the season with a strained chest muscle, winning the last two.
Randolph loaded up his lineup with all right-handed hitters against Johnson, and it paid off immediately. The Big Unit gave up hits to nine of his first 16 batters—including Benson.
His bloop single put runners at the corners with two outs in the second, and Reyes’ second single gave the Mets the lead.
Wright got the Mets’ first extra-base hit, a two-out RBI double off the right-center fence in the third to make it 2-0.
Wright added an RBI double in the eighth, and Reyes tripled home two runs against Buddy Groom.
Yankees RF Gary Sheffield was a late scratch from the lineup because of a sore left hand, the first start he’s missed all season. That gave Bernie Williams a chance to play in CF. Hideki Matsui started in RF for the first time in his major league career.