Work in Sports
Not setting the table
With Perez, Alfonzo struggling, runs hard to come by
Updated: Thursday October 26, 2000 4:56 AM
NEW YORK (AP) -- Timo Perez and Edgardo Alfonzo, the Mets' spark plugs in the NL playoffs, haven't been able to get anything started in the World Series.
That is one of the biggest reasons why the Mets are on the brink of elimination following a 3-2 loss to the New York Yankees in Game 4 on Wednesday night. The Yankees lead the Series 3-1 and can close it out Thursday.
Alfonzo, a .361 hitter in the first two rounds, went 0-for-3 in Game 4 and dropped to 2-for-16 in the Series.
"The team needs me," Alfonzo said. "I'm a little bit frustrated. I picked the wrong time to be in a slump."
Perez, who came from the Japanese minor leagues to become the Mets' leadoff hitter in the playoffs, is also 2-for-16 against the Yankees after hitting .300 in the opening two rounds.
After scoring 16 runs in the first two rounds, the duo has only crossed home plate twice against the Yankees.
"I'm trying to find my stride," Alfonzo said. "I don't have it right now. I don't feel I'm pressing. I just want to find my stroke before we run out of time."
These two hitters were the Mets' biggest weapons in the NL Championship Series. In the five games against the St. Louis Cardinals, Perez and Alfonzo -- the Mets' top two hitters in the order -- reached base safely nine times in 10 first-inning plate appearances as the Mets scored 12 runs in the opening frame.
The Mets have been forced to play from behind against the Yankees, as Perez and Alfonzo have reached base only once in the first and the Mets haven't scored in the inning.
"The Yankees definitely have better starting pitching," Mets outfielder Jay Payton said. "You're not going to score two or three runs in an inning off those guys."
Perez finally scored his first run of the Series, when he singled in the third inning in front of Mike Piazza's two-run homer. But it was the run he didn't score that could haunt the Mets all winter if they can't mount a remarkable comeback against the Yankees.
In Game 1, Perez didn't run hard from first base on Todd Zeile's drive to left field -- thinking it was a homer -- and was thrown out at home, keeping the game scoreless. The Yankees eventually won that game 4-3 in 12 innings and the Mets have been playing from behind ever since.
A miscue in the outfield by Perez also cost the Mets a run in Game 4. Paul O'Neill hit a line drive down the right-field line in the second inning that Perez misplayed into a triple. O'Neill scored the second run of the game on a sacrifice fly by Scott Brosius.
That run proved large as the Mets couldn't rally against the Yankees' bullpen. Pinch-hitter Lenny Harris walked with one out in the seventh, but Bubba Trammell and Kurt Abbott, who also came on as pinch hitters against left-hander Mike Stanton, struck out and the Mets never mounted a late rally.
Overall, the Mets are hitting .227 with only 14 runs in four games.
"I think we have a lot of hits left in us and if they come together we'll be all right," Mets manager Bobby Valentine said.
Alfonzo, the steadiest Met all season, has struggled at the plate, but not in the field. He made two spectacular plays going to his left, robbing Jorge Posada of a hit in the fourth inning and David Justice in the fifth.
"I'm getting tired of seeing that now," Yankees first base coach Lee Mazzilli yelled at Alfonzo after the second great play.
The Yankees might not have to see much of any of the Mets anymore.
"It's a short series," Alfonzo said. "We have to pick it up right away."