08/17/2004 11:45 PM ET
Mets lose Zambrano, series opener
Righty leaves with elbow inflammation after 1 2/3 innings
By Kevin T. Czerwinski / MLB.com
|Dan Wheeler tossed 4 1/3 innings in relief of Victor Zambrano, striking out four. (David Zalubowski/AP)
DENVER -- Cliff Floyd stared down Jason Jennings in the seventh inning Tuesday night at Coors Field, clearly in a position to do some damage.
Jennings, clinging to a one-run lead, had walked Eric Valent and Danny Garcia and was clearly tiring. But Floyd, who came into the game with four hits in six career at-bats against Jennings, went down on three pitches, making a feeble swing on the third pitch to end the inning and the threat.
It was Floyd's fourth strikeout of the game. And had it been any other night, the fact that Floyd left five runners on base in crucial situations would have been news. As it turned out, it was just a footnote because the Mets not only lost the game, 6-4, to Colorado, they lost starting pitcher Victor Zambrano for an undetermined period of time.
The veteran right-hander left the game in the second inning with inflammation in his elbow. New York was ahead 2-0 when Zambrano, who will not make his next start, left the game. The bullpen, however, couldn't contain Colorado.
Dan Wheeler (3-1) allowed a pair of RBI singles in the second to Jennings (11-10) and Aaron Miles after taking over for Zambrano.
"To tell you the truth, I always pay attention to the game but tonight I was talking to someone when I looked up and saw all the trainers talking to Victor," Wheeler said. "I knew it was me. I was just trying to keep the ball down. I know Jennings is a pretty good hitter and I left a two-seamer over the plate. I wanted to make him hit on the ground and I did but it found a hole."
And though the Mets regained the lead in the third on Richard Hidalgo's RBI double, Wheeler was unable to hold it. The Rockies knotted things up in the bottom half of the inning on Vinny Castilla's RBI single before Matt Holliday's solo homer in the sixth off Wheeler snapped the 3-3 tie.
Colorado would go on to add two more runs in the eighth off Pedro Feliciano. The Mets drew to within a run in the ninth off Shawn Chacon, but he weathered the storm and recorded his 30th save.
As for Floyd, he was disgusted afterwards.
"I don't know, bro, it was just one of those nights," said Floyd, who struck out four times for the third time this season. "He was getting me out on junk. Tonight, he had my number.
"And if we lose him [Zambrano], our chances get dimmer and dimmer. Everyone knows pitching is the key. But we're going to lose a key guy. And it's asking a lot for a callup or a guy from the pen to fill in. Zambrano will be tough to replace."
Kevin Czerwinski is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.