Feb 17, 2016

Short Time Mets Pitcher & His Big Start In A Mid Season Subway Series Classic: Shawn Estes (2002)

Aaron Shawn Estes was born February 18, 1973 in San Bernardino, California. The six foot two inch, left handed pitcher was a highly sought after prospect attending high school in Nevada, getting offered a scholarship to Stanford University.

He turned it down when he was selected as a first round draft pick of the Seattle Mariners in 1991, the 11th pick overall. After four seasons in the minor leagues he was traded to the San Francisco Giants organization in 1995, along with Wilson Delgado in exchange for Salomon Torres. 

 He made his MLB debut in September of 1995 losing all three games he pitched. After a 3-5 year the next season, he turned it all around to have a career year. He went 19-5 (second most wins in the league) with 181 strikeouts, pitching 201 innings, posting a 3.18 ERA and making the NL All Star team. He was never known as a control pitcher & that year was no exception. He led the league in walks (100) and hit batters with eight. 

Estes would walk 100 plus batters three more times in his career  & would lead the league in wild pitches again in 1999. He was in the leagues top ten four times in that category. In 1998 he began the year at 0-4 after staring out with an opening day no decision. He closed out the year losing seven of eight decisions, dropping to a 7-12 record. He came back the following year to improve to 11-11 with a 4.92 ERA. 

In 2000 he was in the league’s top ten in wins once again, going 15-6 with 136 strikeouts in 190 innings, for the NL Western Champion Giants. He did post a high 4.26 ERA and walked over 100 batters for the second straight season. 

Post Season: In the NLDS against the New York Mets, he started Game #2 in San Francisco & was pulled in third inning for a pinch hitter. He left the game behind 2-1, after allowing a Timo Perez's two run single in the top of the third inning. Estes earned no decision in the Mets 5-4 win.

 In 2001 he put up a 9-8 record posting a 4.02 ERA. That December he was traded to the New York Mets for Desi Relaford and Tsuyoshi Shinjo. He was placed into a 2002 Mets starting rotation that featured Al Leiter, Steve Trachsel, Pedro Astacio & Jeff D’amico. 

Estes got the start in the third game of the season taking a loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates, allowing three runs.He got two more no decisons in close one run ball games & then took his second loss in Montreal on April 20th. On April 26th, Estes threw a one hit gem against the Milwaukee Brewers at Shea Stadium. He struck out eight & allowed just one walk in the classic 1-0 shutout. But as May began he lost two more games, falling to 1-4 with a 4.71 ERA. By mid June he was 2-5, when on a rainy Saturday afternoon he was to set to pitch in a media hyped game at Shea Stadium. 

It was an inter league game against the cross town rivals and Roger Clemens's was his opponent. Since the game was being played in the National League Park at Shea Stadium, Clemens would have to come to bat against the Mets. It Would be the first time he’d face a Mets pitcher, since he had hit Mike Piazza in the head with a pitch, placing him on the DL back in 2000. 

The game was talked about for days and was blown way out of proportion by the media & the fans alike. It was the hottest ticket in town that day & the anticipation was gut wrenching for those of us lucky enough to attend. You almost felt sorry for Sean Estes, who was thrown in the middle of this madness, and had only been a Met for a few months. 

It was his first taste of the rivalry as he was given the ball that day. It was quite a moment when Clemens's came to bat. The Shea Mets fans stood up loudly anything they could at him. Since the Mets were winning & we had the larger numbers, the A.L. New York fans also took a verbal harassment. 

 On the first pitch to Clemens as he stepped in looking a bit shy, Estes threw a slow pitch behind his back. It did not hit him or knock him down. Most fans wanted to see Clemens go down and nothing short of that was going to satisfy the hungry mob. Clemens seemed to gesture a tip of the cap to Estes during the at bat.

Estes fate was sealed that day, as he would not be a Met for long. But on that day it was one of his best as a Met, besides the one hitter. He pitched seven innings of shutout ball, striking out eleven batters, while allowing just five hits. At the plate, he drove in the first run of the game with a sacrifice bunt, then later added insult to injury, when he hit a two run HR off Roger Clemens. This was the during the height of Clemens steroid days, in which he later admitted guilty to. 

 But it was Mike Piazza’s who really brought the Met fans to their feet that day, He blasted a lead off 6th inning HR off Clemens, once again hitting him so well. The Mets won the game 8-0 making for good day at Shea for the fans. 

Estes returned to the mound later that week, facing the Kansas City Royals in a rare visit to Shea. He pitched into the 7th inning, allowing three runs, earning no decision in the 4-3 Mets win. Although he allowed just two runs to the Braves in his next start, he took another no decision as Tom Glavine & Chris Hammond & John Smoltz took care of the Mets 6-3. 

He would take three more losses through July before winning his first game since the subway series victory, a month & a half ago. His last Mets win was a fine outing, as he tossed a seven inning, two hit performance beating the Astros 10-0. But Estes was traded by mid August, going to the Cincinnati Reds (with cash) for players to be named later. The Reds would send Pedro Feliciano & a minor leaguer to New York to complete the deal. 

In 23 games with the Mets he went 4-9 with a 4.55 ERA, striking out 92 batters & walking 66 in 132 innings. 

Estes would move on to the Chicago Cubs (2003), Colorado Rockies (2004) Arizona Diamondbacks (2005) & San Diego Padres (2006-2008) over the next four seasons. He had another 15 win season (15-8) in Colorado in 2004. 

He pitched 202 innings, striking out 117 batters while posting a 5.84 ERA & leading the league in earned runs (131). In 2006 he pitched only one game and then needed Tommy John surgery. He missed the entire 2007 season but returned for nine games with San Diego in 2008. Estes retired at the end of the year. 

In his 13 year career he was 101-93 with a 4.71 ERA. In 283 games pitched he struck out 1210 batters, walking 858 over 1617 innings pitched. He threw 14 complete games with eight shut outs for seven teams. 

Honors: In 2010 he received a plaque on the Giants wall of fame at Pac Bell Park in San Francisco.

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