Remembering Mets History: (2001) On Opening Day Robin Ventura Leads N.L. Champs In Atlanta

Tuesday April 3rd, 2001:
The 2000 National League Champion, New York Mets opened up the 2001 season with enthusiasm. They started out the season, at the home of a familiar rival, at Turner Field in Atlanta. 

42,117 came to Bobby Cox's Braves, host Bobby Valentines New York Mets. The starting pitchers for the matchup would be Al Leiter for the Mets & Tom Glavine for the Braves.

In the top of the 1st, Benny Agbayani led off with a walk, but was thrown out at second, trying to steal. Edgardo Alfonzo then doubled, but Robin Ventura struck out for out number two. 

But Mike Piazza came through, he hit his first HR of the year,  giving the Mets a 2-0 early lead.

 The Braves answered right back, base hits by Rafael Furcal, Andru Jones & Chipper Jones made it a 2-1 Mets lead. 

Glavine put out the Mets in order, over the next five innings. Al Leiter allowed just two hits
himself, pitching into the 7th inning. Then in the 7th, catcher Javier Lopez tied the game with a solo HR.

In the top of the 8th, Glavine walked Agbayani. Bobby Valentine sent Tsuyoshi Shinjo  in to pinch run. After Edgardo Alfonzo flew out to center, Bobby Cox went to his bullpen, bringing in the hated, John Rocker. 

But the Mets got to the loud mouth, Rocker once again. Robin Ventura greeted him with two run HR putting the Mets ahead 4-2.

But the Mets bullpen could not hold the lead. In the 8th inning, John Franco came on & quickly gave up a single to Dave Martinez & an RBI double to Rafael Furcal. It was now a narrow 4-3 lead. 
Franco then hit Quilvio Veras with a pitch, putting two men on. 

Bobby Valentine replaced him with Turk Wendell. Wendell recorded the next two batters, but then gave up a base hit to Brian Jordan, scoring Furcal with the tying run, making it 4-4. 

The game went to extra innings, with Dennis Cook taking the mound for New York & Kerry Ligtenberg for Atlanta.

In the 10th inning, pinch hitter Lenny Harris grounded out. Then Tsuyoshi Shinjo dropped a base hit to short center. 

Then the hero of the day, Robin Ventura hit his second HR of the day. The two run shot was the game winning run.

In the bottom of the 10th, Armando Benitez managed to retire the side in order, for the save. Dennis Cook would earn the win.

2001: The Mets would finish up 82-80 in third place, six games behind the Braves in that season. It was disappointing after they had made the playoffs the past two years. 

Of course the season would see the tragedies of 911 in September & baseball would stop action for a week. When play resumed in New York, it was the Mets & Braves again, highlighted by Mike Piazza's walk off HR.


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