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A Giant Finish

Mike Piazza broke Carlton Fisk's home run record for catchers on May 5, 2004.

On May 6, 2004, Mike Piazza hit what was probably, barring what would be some pretty neat circumstances these next few days, his last walk-off home run as a New York Met.

Guess which one we're going to talk about?

That home run put Piazza into a tie for most walk-off home runs in Mets history with four, a mark he shares with Kevin McReynolds, Chris Jones, Cleon Jones. (I guess you could say that keeping up with the Jones' was an issue for Piazza in more ways than one (Chipper and Andruw being his primary foes)).

This is one of those lists that Piazza belongs on, and deserves to stay on, to aid in the argument of his being the most clutch hitter in Mets history (we can list Keith Hernandez as 1a if you like), which is another discussion entirely, one that perhaps we'll take on when Piazza signs this offseason with the Angels, Orioles, or Rangers.

Anyhow, on this night, the Mets and Giants got involved in quite a battle with Al Leiter reverting back to the form of his glory days, in matching Giants ace Jason Schmidt pitch-for-pitch (Schmidt would pitch a one-hitter 12 days later). The score stood 1-1 through nine frames and the Mets kept Barry Bonds in the ballpark, giving him free passes twice late in the contest.

In the 11th inning Piazza came up with two outs and nobody on, facing Jim Brower, who ran the count to 2-2. Brower's next pitch was a slider that caught too much of the plate and Piazza crushed it on a straight line, over the leap of Bonds in left field for a walk-off home run.

Mike Piazza has had two different styles of home runs. There's the monstrous, high arching, bullpen-clearing shot and the line-drive laser that jumped off the bat. The high archers were more prominent in the early part of Piazza's Mets career when everyone seemed to be capable of hitting that type of home run. The line drives were more amazing, particularly if you were there in person to see them because the ball appeared to rise, going just over the head of the second baseman or shortstop, until it carried over the outfielders head and over the fence. The ball sailed so quickly and sometimes seemed to be over the wall within an instant of your hearing the crack of the bat. Some of the more noteworthy home runs of Piazza's career were of that variety (against Billy Wagner and 1998, against the Braves in the 10-run eighth-inning comeback, and again against the Braves in baseball's return to New York after the terrorist attacks in September, 2001). You could tell the difference easily if you were listening on the radio because Gary Cohen would have to rush his home run call in order to time "It's outta here!!" with ball leaving playing field.

Mike Piazza will likely be "outta here" in a few days and Mets fans will get a chance to pay tribute to him during this final series of the season. It will be a well-deserved honor for Piazza, who will be missed, not just for his stats, his clutch play, and his leadership, but also for his penchant for the walk-off home run.

True Metalians know...Thirteen Mets have hit a walk-off home run during Mike Piazza's tenure with the team, but he's the only player in that group with more than one.


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