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Four (No) Score and 11 Years Ago

Not all four-inning saves are as easy as the one Brian Stokes had on Wednesday night.

Baseball-Reference's Play Index tells us that the Mets have had 33 four-inning saves since the modern save rule came into being in 1969, and 40 such saves if you apply that rule retroactively to 1962.

* The 12-0 victory set a Mets record for largest margin of victory in a four-inning save, the first four-inning save by a Mets pitcher since Turk Wendell allowed three runs in recording one in an 8-5 win over the Blue Jays, September 2, 1997.

The Mets scored seven runs against the Blue Jays starter that day, the most that Roger Clemens would allow in any start that season. Wendell survived despite yielding a pair of home runs to the same hitter, Jose Cruz Jr. Rey Ordonez, of all people, was the Mets hitting star that day, with a home run and three RBI.

* The last four-inning save in which a Mets reliever allowed no runs was by Toby Borland on April 15, 1997, in a 5-0 win over the Dodgers. Of greater significance, as fellow blogger Greg Prince points out, is that was the day in which Jackie Robinson's No. 42 was retired throughout baseball, on the 50th anniversary of his MLB debut.

* The previous Mets recordholders for largest margin of victory for a four-inning save were Sid Fernandez (1986) and Jay Hook (1963). Fernandez got his on the final day of the season, in a 9-0 win over the Pirates, and capped it by recording his 200th strikeout of the season(Bobby Bonilla) to end the game.

Hook's came in a 14-5 victory over the Astros in a game better remembered for pitcher Carlton Willey hitting a grand slam.

* Of far greater difficulty is the four-inning save in a game in which the final margin was one run. The Mets have had eight such saves in their history.

The most recent was on May 12, 1984 against the Dodgers, though it gets an asterisk, since Doug Sisk actually entered with a two-run lead before allowing an inherited runner to score. Still, he cruised through the rest of the contest without issue (how often could you say that about Sisk??), helping Ed Lynch improve to 4-0 in a 4-3 Mets win.

Sisk and Roger McDowell share the Mets record for saves of 4+ innings with three. We include the "+" because Sisk actually had a five-inning save in a 7-5 win over the Cardinals on June 23, 1983. The Mets rallied from 4-0 down to win. Sisk allowed one run in five innings, though he probably should have been given the win, which went to Carlos Diaz (1 1/3 IP, 0 R) instead.

* There are a couple of good candidates for the best of the four-inning saves. Preference goes to ones that impacted a pennant race, so we'll tab Buzz Capra's effort in Game 1 of a doubleheader against the Phillies on June 27, 1973.

In a season in which every win was vital, Capra's performance was cinematically brilliant. The Mets were clinging to a 7-6 lead, after nearly completely putting their seven-run first inning, and Teddy Martinez's four-hit game, to waste.

In four innings of relief of George Stone, Capra yielded no hits, and two walks. In the ninth inning, he retired the heart of the Phillies order in order, setting down Bill Robinson, Greg Luzinski and a rookie third baseman named Mike Schmidt to close his first big league save. His performance set the standard by which we now measure those such as Brian Stokes.

True Metves know...Among other Mets pitchers to record four-inning saves: Dwight Gooden, Doug Simons, Jesse Orosco, Craig Swan, and Terry Leach.


Anonymous said…
Didn't Cory Lidle have one as well?
metswalkoffs said…

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