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All's Well and Merry for El Duque

It would have been interesting to have had Tom Seaver in the booth on Tuesday night because when Orlando Hernandez stole second base, Seaver, as was noted, might have realized that his club record for stolen bases by a pitcher (4) was being closely approached.

It would have required a good memory from Seaver for him to have realized that he, like Hernandez, once stole a base in consecutive games, an extraordinary accomplishment for a pitcher. It happened in the 8th and 9th games of his Hall of Fame career, and wouldn't you know it, there was a walk-off involved.

The first such pilfer was a rather daring maneuver, one that came in the 8th inning of a 3-3 tie with the Braves. A Hank Aaron home run didn't faze Seaver, who was solid on both sides of the field. The Met moundsman was 3-for-3 with two RBI and his swipe of second gave Al Luplow a chance to put the Mets ahead, but his line drive to center was snared, ending the threat.

The score remained tied until the 9th when Seaver had the misfortune to face, of all people, Joe Torre, leading off the inning. Torre, a respectable .280 hitter against Seaver for his career, clubbed a walk-off home run to beat Seaver and the Mets, 4-3, the second defeat of Seaver's career.

The once and future ace of the Mets was referred to by the New York Times as the club's "Frank Merriwell" after the fictional crime-solving Yalie who, according to Wikipedia was "the model for all later American juvenile sports fiction." He would be as worthy of that moniker the next time out. He again went the distance, this time against the defending NL champion Dodgers, and earned the victory. Seaver's steal of second in the third inning didn't help matters, as again the Mets couldn't bring him in, but he again had an RBI and the theft gave him the club lead in basepilfers with two(!).

Admittedly Seaver was rather spry in those two games and the news media was quite impressed. However, we're more intrigued by El Duque's feat, particularly when you consider this. When Seaver had these stolen bases, he was 22 years old and particularly nimble. Hernandez, for all we know, may be twice that age. I wonder if Frank Merriwell was that sharp at that age.

True Metriwells know...The other rarity from Tuesday was a Shawn Green sacrifice, his first since a July 5, 1998 game against the Devil Rays. Green's bunt came in the 8th inning of a 1-1 tie and set the stage for a go-ahead, walk-up single by former Met Tony Fernandez.


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