Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Ulti-Met Frustration

So I've got this little mini-series of a thing going here on frustrating losses and loyal reader Eric Orns contributed nicely to the cause, both with the title for this piece and the suggestion to look into one rather petrifying game, which led to another neat discovery.

I don't know how many of you took heed when Jeff DaVanon signed a minor league deal with the White Sox. Jeff's father, Jerry played in the major leagues too, and from what I can tell, didn't have a hugely successful career, other than a pair of shining moments against the Mets.

My sympathies if you remember the 1-0 10-inning loss to the Astros on July 6, 1976, as if you're a Mets fan, you'd have wanted to block this one far out of your memory. In this game, the Mets had eight hits and drew 10 walks against Astros starter J.R. Richard (167 pitches) and scored NO RUNS. Kudos to the record keepers who alerted the media to the major-league records set, at the time, in this game: Most men left on base in a 10-inning shutout (15), and most walks by a pitcher (10) without allowing a run in an extra-inning affair.

The Mets went 1-for-16 with runners in scoring position, leaving the bases loaded in the seventh and eighth innings. They hit into two double plays and had a caught stealing. They twice put a runner on third base with one out and didn't score. Basically, they deserved to lose.

The only person who should have a good memory of this one should be DaVanon, who singled home the winning run in the 10th, one pitch after a throwing error by Mets pitcher Skip Lockwood on a bunt, put the winning run on third base.

Those who do recall this game may recall one of similar disgustingness, the first game of a doubleheader against the Cardinals on July 25, 1974, a 4-3 Mets defeat. The Mets led in this one, 3-0 against aging Bob Gibson, who walked seven and allowed seven hits in eight innings, but held the Flushing union to just three runs. The Cardinals would tie this one with two outs in the ninth on a single by none other than Joe Torre.

After the Mets wasted a leadoff double in the visitors 10th, the Cardinals went about their business of winning the game in the home half. With two on and one out, Met reliever Jack Aker had the misfortune of walking Luis Melendez to load the bases. Up next was DaVanon, whom Aker plunked with a pitch, handing the Mets a rather nasty-tasting defeat and DaVanon, the beginnings of a rep as an Ultimet frustrator.

Those ultiMetly frustrated know...Both Jerry and Jeff DaVanon have 3 walk-off RBI in their career, but Jeff fortunately has none against the Mets.

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