Skip to main content

Walking Off The Tightrope

Let's flash back to happier times, like say Wednesday, which if things break right will be remembered as one of the most Metmorable wins of a great season.

I tried to come up with the appropriate name to describe the manner in which Billy Wagner skated through the ninth inning and came up with the idea of the "Walk-Off Tightrope," which in my world shall describe any scenario in which the Mets won a game by one run, and the opposition had a bases-loaded opportunity in its game-ending scenario (thank you, Jeff Francoeur and Andruw Jones).

Turns out the game was payback for Willie Randolph and hitting coach Howard Johnson, who might recall the disaster that was July 8, 1992. That game was a 2-1 loss to the Braves, one in which the Mets loaded the bases with nobody out in the ninth inning, but didn't score because Johnson popped out and Randolph hit into a game-ending double play. The winning pitcher that day: Tom Glavine (victory #66). Funny how it all ties together.

I found nine other instances of more pleasant scenarios (tightrope victories), with the help of Baseball-Reference.com and will describe them in brief. If you know of any others, please let me know.

April 27, 1971, Mets 2, Cardinals 1
After Jerry Koosman gave up a leadoff single to Joe Torre to start the ninth inning for the home team, Gil Hodges put the baseball in the capable hands of Danny Frisella, who showed a knack for escaping difficult situations. Frisella would make matters difficult by loading the bases, but escaped by coaxing a popout from Ted Sizemore and striking out pinch-hitter Joe Hague to earn the save and end the game.

August 17, 1972, Mets 2, Braves 1
Tug McGraw's best work would be needed against the Braves to preserve Tom Seaver's victory. McGraw inherited a second-and-third, one out scenario in the ninth and then intentionally walked pinch-hitter Hank Aaron to load the bases. McGraw wiggled through, getting then-Brave Felix Millan to hit into a force play, and Marty Perez to pop to first to end matters.

September 12, 1972, Mets 4, Phillies 3
Amazingly, this was the only other instance that I could find in which the Mets won a one-run game, that ended with the opponent hitting into a double play with the bases-loaded. In this case, the tightrope-walker was again Frisella, and the opponent was a rather pathetic Phillies squad that cut a Mets three-run lead to one, and had the sacks filled for pinch-hitter Deron Johnson. Much like Andruw Jones, Johnson was in a yearlong funk, one that continued with a Bud Harrelson-to-Lute Barnes-to Ed Kranepool game-ending 6-4-3 twin killing.

May 11, 1973, Mets 4, Pirates 3
This was a game where the ninth inning was made a lot more nerve-wracking then it had to be. It was one in which Tug McGraw had to get the save twice. He thought he had it the first time, but a Felix Millan error with two outs in the ninth lengthened the game. That was followed by a Willie Stargell double and an intentional walk to Richie Hebner, loading the bases for Milt May. But McGraw managed to take care of things, on his own, getting May on a comebacker (1-unassisted) to end the game.

September 18, 1973, Mets 6, Pirates 5
A critical victory during the miracle comeback, in a game in which the Mets faced a 4-1 ninth inning deficit, rallied for five runs to take a 6-4 advantage. With Bob Apodaca clearly nervous in his big league debut in relief, he walked two, necessitating his departure. Buzz Capra came in, got two outs while walking two more, putting the game in the hands of Manny Sanguillen. Capra got Sanguillen on a fly to left to preserve the one-run win.

April 23, 1980, Mets 3, Phillies 2
The beginning of the Mark Bomback era (or error) was a bizarre victory over the Phillies (the first of Bomback's career). The eventual champs would score only once against Bomback, then once against Neil Allen in the eighth. In doing so, they ran out of position players, and once the bases were loaded with two outs in the ninth, Phils manager Dallas Green was forced to use pitcher Randy Lerch as a pinch-hitter. Lerch was no slouch but Jeff Reardon managed to strike him out to end a one-run Mets victory.

May 26, 1996, Mets 1, Padres 0
Somewhere in my vast library of cassettes, I have my call from the upper deck of the final out of this contest, a really good game in a really mediocre season. Bernard Gilkey hit a first-inning home run and then neither the Mets nor the first-place Padres would score again. Oh, San Diego would come close with an assist from John Franco, who was trying to secure a victory for hardworking Bobby Jones. Franco loaded the bases with two outs in the ninth inning and stretched the count on last-man Jody Reed to 3-2 before striking him out, swinging, to end a very tense game.

September 19, 1998, Mets 4, Marlins 3
A day after gagging away a game to the Marlins, the Mets and Franco nearly duplicated their efforts in the ninth inning of a must-win scenario in the wild-card race. Franco loaded the bases on two walks and a hit-by-pitch, then sliced-and-diced his way into a 3-2 count on catcher Mike Redmond before recording, what to that point, was the biggest strikeout of his Mets career.

September 7, 2002, Mets 5, Phillies 4
A rather meaningless late-season torturefest, though not so to Tyler Walker, who earned his first major-league victory in this contest. This was a game that the Mets led by two entering the ninth, then let the Phillies come back without swinging a bat. Armando Benitez walked four, including Bobby Abreu and Pat Burrell on a combined eight pitches to force in a run. Benitez redeemed by striking out Travis Lee and retiring Mike Lieberthal on a comebacker with 3 men on to end the game.

True Metrope walkers know...Want to thank Dave Smith of Retrosheet for tying up a loose end. Smith confirmed something that we thought to be true a few days ago: That Luis Castillo had the least major-league experience (two games) when he got his walk-off hit against the Mets on August 9, 1996. The runner-up is former Dodger Mike Deveraux, who beat the Mets with a walk-off hit in his third major-league game, September 6, 1987.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Walk-Offs in Movies, TV, and Other Places

Note: I'm leaving this post up through the end of the week, a) because I don't have time to pump out something new and b)because I was hoping to build a really good list of entertainment industry walk-offs...so if you're looking for something new, check back on Monday or so... Of course, if there's a major trade or move, I'll adjust and try to post something... In the meantime, click on the "Table of Contents" link as well. It has been updated. SPOILER ALERT: Read at your own risk Caught the ending of "A League of Their Own" on one of the movie channels the other day and it got me to thinking that it would be fun to compile a list of walk-offs from movies, television, and other forms of entertainment. Here's the start, and only the start, as I spent about 30 minutes or so thinking it over Help me fill in the blanks by filling out the comments section. "A League of Their Own"-- Racine beats Rockford for the All-American Girls

The 'Duca of Earl (and walk-offs)

If I told you that the Mets had just obtained a guy who is a career .316 hitter with runners in scoring position? How about if I told you that the Mets just traded for a hitter who has consistently ranked among the toughest in baseball to strike out? Or if I mentioned that the Mets just dealt for a player who was selected to the NL All-Star team the last three seasons, with the last honor coming via a vote by his peers? So, although he's on the down side age wise, his throwing arm isn't as good as it used to be, and he doesn't provide much power, there are a lot of good things that Paul Lo Duca brings to the New York Mets. For example: He'll sacrifice his body for the good of the team The Dodgers and Braves squared off on August 23, 2002 and Lo Duca made an impact both on the start and finish of this game. Three pitches after being dusted by Greg Maddux, Lo Duca made him pay with a first-inning home run. The Braves rallied to tie the game, 3-3 in the ninth, but thei

Minutiae Break: Worst Mets Relievers

It occurs to me after 79 straight walk-off related posts and some fatigue still remaining from Saturday's finish that I did promise to bring Metspective on other issues related to the Flushing 9, so I offer this posting up as a "Minutiae Break." This came about after several discussions related to the offhand Dick Tidrow/Danny Graves remark the other day , the conclusion of which indicated that it would be fun to create a list of the worst Mets relievers of all-time. I don't want to step on the territory of other bloggers, like " Faith and Fear in Flushing ," Mets Guy in Michigan " and " Metstradamus ," so I'll tread carefully here, aided by their influence. Should any friends, family members, or fans of these pitchers visit this site, I mean no harm. I'm just here to have a little fun with this topic. The ground rules are as follows: The pitcher must have had a Mets stint as long as Dick Tidrow's (11 games, 15 2/3 innings), for