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. While pitching in high school at Nevada, the six-foot two-inch, left-hander was a highly sought after prospect. He was offered a scholarship to Stanford University but turned it down when in 1991 he was selected as a first round draft pick of the Seattle Mariners (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. 

 MLB Career: Estes made his MLB debut in September of 1995 taking losses in all three games he pitched. In 1996 he was 3-5 with a 3.60 ERA in 11 starts at the big-league level.

In 1997 he had a career year for the first place Giants, going 19-5 (second most wins in the NL) with A 3.18 ERA, 181 strikeouts, pitching 201 innings & making the NL All Star team. Estes was the ace of his Giants' staff that season leading the team in most pitching categories. He was never known as a good control pitcher & that year was no exception. He led the league in walks (100) and hit eight batters with pitches & threw ten wild pitches.

Estes would walk 100 or more batters in three of four seasons from 1997 to 2000. He would lead
the league in wild pitches with 15. He was in the leagues top ten four times in that category. 

1997 Post Season- NLDS: In the NLDS loss to the Florida Marlins, he opened up the series in Florida taking the Game #1 loss. He gave up five runs including a two run HR to Bobby Bonilla in three innings of work.

After his fine 1997 season he had a rough start to 1998 starting the year at 0-4. He improved to get to .500 by July but then an injury set him down until September. When he returned, he lost seven of eight decisions, dropping to 7-12 for the year. 

In 1999 he came back to improve to 11-11 with a 4.92 ERA. That year he led the league with 15 wild pitches. 

In 2000 for the NL Western Champion Giants, he was in the league’s top ten in wins once again, going 15-6, second most wins on his staff to Livan Hernandez. Estes struck out 136 batters & walked 108 in 190 innings pitched, with a rather high 4.26  ERA. 

2000 Post Season- NLDS: In the NLDS loss to the New York Mets, Estes started Game #2 in San Francisco. In the top of the 3rd inning he allowed a two-run single to Timo Perez & left the game with a 2-1 lead getting pulled in the bottom of third inning for a pinch hitter. He got no decision in the Mets 5-4 extra inning 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. 

Mets Career: In 2002 Estes was placed into a Mets starting rotation that featured veterans 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. In his next two starts, he got two more no decisions in close one run ball games. On April 20th, he gave up six runs to the Braves in a 7-6 Mets loss. Estes would allow six runs in four different outings with the Mets.

One Hitter: On April 26th, Estes threw the best game of his Mets career, tossing the 23rd one hitter in Mets history. It came against the Milwaukee Brewers at Shea Stadium. Estes had a no hitter going through six innings until Eric Young Sr. led off with a base hit to left field. Overall Estes struck out eight & allowed just one walk in the classic 1-0 shutout. The only run came on Jay Patton's HR off Glendon Rusch.

As May began, he lost two more games, first giving up five runs in Arizona & then four more runs to his old Giants teammates. He fell to 1-4 with a 4.71 ERA. On May 18th, he got his second victory, coming in San Diego where he gave up just two runs in six innings of work.

Subway Series Matchup with Roger Clemens Batting: By mid-June he was 2-5 with a 4.83 ERA 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 Mets cross town rivals & Roger Clemens's was his opponent. Since the game was being played in the National League Park 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. 

Things were quiet in the first two innings with no scoring or drama just a lot of tension & anticipation. In the top of the 3rd inning, it all came to a head, the fans were on their feet & held their breaths as Roger Clemens stepped in to bat to a chorus of boos. Strangely he appeared a bit shy & meek. All of a sudden You could hear a pin drop in the big ballpark as Shawn Estes wound up & threw the pitch.

The pitch went behind Clemens back, it did not knock him down nor did it hit him. Admittingly, most Mets fans wanted to see him lying in the dirt & were furious that Estes did not retaliate for Piazza. It was not to be. 

Estes made the moment pass uneventful, some praised his effort to keep the peace, even Clemens touched his helmet in a tip of the hat gesture to Estes. It is unknown what his teammates thought at the time but Estes would get traded away two months later.

In the home 5th with the Mets up 1-0, Roger Cedeno led off with a double to left field. Shawn Estes then gained some respect from the Mets fans when he took a Roger Clemens pitch over the fence for a HR to make it 3-0. 

Estes would hit four HRs in his career. In the 6th Mike Piazza who was 0-2 at this point stepped in
& in story book fashion, blasted a Clemens pitch over the left field fence for another HR. The Mets fans went wild as if they had won a championship. Clemens just dropped his head.

Shawn Estes pitched seven innings, shutting out the AL team on five hits, striking out a
season high eleven batters, earning the victory.

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. 

Estes would take three more losses through July before winning his first game since the subway series victory, a month & a half earlier. His last Mets win was a fine outing, as he tossed a seven inning, two hit performance beating the Astros 10-0. 

In mid-August Estes was traded 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, Estes was 4-9 with a 4.55 ERA, striking out 92 batters & walking 66 in 132 innings. 

Post Mets Career: In 2003 Estes would move on to the Chicago Cubs going 8-11. In 2004 he went to the Colorado Rockies & rebounded for another fine season, winning 15 games (going 15-8) pitching 202 innings, striking out 117 batters while posting a 5.84 ERA & leading the league in earned runs (131). 

In 2005 he moved on to the Arizona Diamondbacks going 7-8 in 21 starts, In 2006 he went to the San Diego Padres but was limited to just one game before needing 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. 

Career Stats: 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. 

Retirement: Estes & former teammate Rich Aurilla do pre & post-game shows for Giants broadcasts. He also does occasional fill in work as an analyst.

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

Family: He & his wife Nathalie have four children & live in Arizona.


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