Bobby Valentine sent Rick Reed (11-5 / 4.58 ERA) to the mound to face off against John Smoltz (11-8 / 3.19 ERA).
The Mets Braves rivalry of that era was in full swing. Prior to the series, the Braves Chipper Jones had made comments about the Mets being dead, weeks ago. Bobby Valentine commented "the Braves better be ready to play some ghosts".
The Mets fans let jones have it, as they would forever Boo at the sight of him. It was here where the Mets fans began to call him by his real given name: "Laaaarrrry"…………. Also there were references to the Three Stooges- Larry as well.
This was also the series where Braves pitcher John Rocker, also began making his comments about New York Rocker would also pretend to throw ball into the stands, taunting the fans.
This brought the ugliness out of the Shea Crowd as Rocker & Chipper both became Public Enemy #1.
Astoria Queens native, Cyndi Lauper sang the National Anthem, to get things started & it was the on to a classic Mets post season night.
Both pitchers retired the side in order in the first two innings. In the home 2nd, Roger Cedeno singled with the games first hot but went no where.
Reed & Smoltz matched zero's on the board until the bottom of the 6th inning, when Jon Olerud hit a HR giving the Mets a 1-0 lead.
Reed went into the 8th inning, with a one hit shut out. But he ran out of gas & was done after two batters. He surrendered back to back HRs to Brian Jordan & Ryan Klesko.
Bobby Valentine came to the mound & brought in Turk Wendell. Wendell retired all three batters he faced to get to the bottom of the 8th inning.
Smoltz came on for the 8th, he too was pitching a fine game, one run on four hits, striking out seven & hadn't walked anyone. Roger Cedeno led off with a base hit.
After Rey Ordonez failed on a sacrifice, Bobby Cox came to the mound & yanked Smoltz, bringing in Mike Remlinger. He struck out his first batter, Benny Agbayani. Then Cedeno stole second base & Melvin Mora drew a walk.
Bobby Cox went to his bullpen & brought in public enemy #1 in New York, John Rocker. Rocker had made comments to Sports Illustrated writer Jeff Pearlman criticizing the driving skills of Asian women, his dislike of foreigners & saying he'd never play in New York for any team.
Quotes- John Rocker: "Imagine having to take the 7 train to the ball par, looking like your riding through Beirut to some kid with purple hair, some queer with AIDS, right next to some dude who just got out of jail for the fourth time right next to some 20 year old mom with four kids, it's depressing".
After his Game #3 save, he taunted the fans & shouted back at them as they were letting him have. The Shea fans threw what ever they could at him & shouted as loud as they could any time he was visible. But no justice was better than what happened when he came to the mound.
Bobby Valentine put on the double steal. The Mets made it look easy as both Cedeno & Mora were safe. Braves manager Bobby Cox still said he knew it was coming.
Jon Olerud then delivered the deadly blow to Rocker, a two run single, putting the Mets ahead for good with what was the game winning hit. The crowd went absolutely crazy & gave it to Rocker.
Quotes- Turk Wendell: " He got everything that was coming to him. That was very pleasurable to see. It's too bad we didn't leave him standing on the field. That would have been the unlimate".
Armando Benitez came on for the save & had one of his best post season performances retiring the side in order, striking out Keith Lockhart to end the game.
Quotes- Mike Piazza: "It doesn't look good, but you hope it's a momentum change. We're still in a tough position, but we're not rolling over & dying. We're going to battle, that's the way we've played all year."