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Almost Goodenough

It seems like today is a good day, given the events of Msr. Sabathia and his near no-no'ness on Sunday, to tell the story of September 7, 1984.

The timing is particularly good because I recently purchased an audio cassette of the game, and recently got to hear the details of the pertinent parts.

It's the story of a day on which the Mets came as close as close could be to throwing a no-hitter.

Dwight Gooden was the pitcher. The Chicago Cubs were the opponent. The score was not an issue, as the Mets coasted, 10-0 behind home runs from George Foster and Darryl Strawberry. It was also a record-setting evening, as Gooden broke the NL record for strikeouts by a rookie pitcher, set when Grover Cleveland Alexander struck out 227 in 1911.

The only blemish on Gooden's mark that evening, an infield single by Cubs third baseman Keith Moreland, in the fifth inning, somewhat akin to that of Marlins catcher Paul Hoover in the 161st game of the 2007 season.

The hit was legit, a slowly topped ground ball on a 1-2 count that Ray Knight fielded, but couldn't release. Murphy and Lamar did not question the judgment of the official scorer (unlike the current Brewers skipper) and neither did the writers of the two game stories I read. Knight had some regrets after the game, lamenting that he was playing too far along the third base line, and that when he reached into his glove to try to make a throw, he couldn't get a good grip on the ball.

"From where I was playing, you'd have to call it a hit," Knight told the media afterwards (thanks, Chicago Tribune and NY Times). "But I'd take an error, gladly."

In fairness, Knight did more than enough later in his Mets career to make up for any thought-to-be miscue.

Gooden would get his no-hitter, nearly 12 years later, though his five-strikeout, six-walk effort was not comparable to the 11 K, 4 BB hurting he put on the division champs to be. I've only gotten through the first five innings, but the Mets crew was gushing about Gooden's marvelousness in this contest after almost every batter.

"The hit doesn't matter," Gooden said. afterwards "I just wanted to win the game."

True Metbathias know..Mets pitchers have thrown 23 complete game one-hit shutouts (including postseason). Gooden and Bobby Jones (2000 NLDS Game 4) are the only ones to do so against division winners.


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