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A Home Run of Great Significance- Part IV

You know what else was cool about Kirk Gibson's walk-off home run in Game 1 of the 1988 World Series?

He didn't just hit it against Joe The Plumber. He hit it against Hall of Fame relief ace Dennis Eckersley, among the best pitchers in the game.

That got me to thinking. The Mets have had walk-off wins against everyone from Juan Acevedo to Pat Zachry. But who's the best pitcher against whom they've ever had a walk-off win?

You can vote in the poll on the right.

The candidates...

Steve Carlton
Opening Day 1975 (Joe Torre). Carlton was in a 2-year stretch in which he wasn't quite the pitcher who twice won 20 games previously, but he was in the prime of his career, and won 20 four more times afterwards.

Dennis Eckersley
April 4, 1996 (Brent Mayne). The Mets got to the 42-year-old version of Eck, who was still pretty good, posting 30 saves, and getting the Cardinals to within one win of the World Series.

Bob Gibson
September 23, 1969 (Bud Harrelson). Gibson was one year removed from 22-9, 1.12, and won 20 games with a 2.18 ERA that season. Always a Mets nemesis, beating him to clinch a tie for the division title was pretty sweet.

Trevor Hoffman
1995, 1999, 2005, 2007 (Most notably: Mike Piazza). Hoffman is your all-time saves leader, and the Mets got to him at various points in his career. Remember that Mike Piazza ended the Padres streak of something like a jillion straight wins when leading entering the 9th inning, with a game-winning home run in 1999.

Juan Marichal
1969 and 1973 (Tommie Agee and Felix Millan). Marichal, a Hall of Famer, was the ultimate Mets killer throughout his career. It's a tribute to him that both Mets walk-off wins against him came via 1-0 extra-inning affairs.

Mariano Rivera
1999 and 2006 (Matt Franco and David Wright). The question here is how do you compare Mariano Rivera to baseball legends of the 60s and 70s? I have a feeling the younger crowd will pick Rivera by default, and I can't object, given the significance of the two times the Mets beat him.

Warren Spahn
May 12, 1962 (Hobie Landrith). Spahn had gotten most of his 363 caeer wins by then, but was still crafty enough to win 18 games at age 41 and 23 at age 42. Just don't ignore him because of his Mets "career."

Bruce Sutter
1980 and 1981 (Steve Henderson, Mookie Wilson). Sutter was the Mariano Rivera of his era, one in which the closer would oft be required to get more than three outs. He was the best reliever in the game in 1981, and the homer that Mookie touched him up for was pretty important, at the time.

Comments

Anonymous said…
Very intriguing poll. Didn't pick a reliever because no reliever, even those great ones, are going to have a perfect inning every time. Most of those starters were not at the very top of their game when the Mets got to them. I suppose Marichal was in '69. Gibson, too. I voted for Carlton out of affection for that particular Opening Day.

Late nomination for Curt Schilling, May 23, 1999. He's not quite at that Hall of Fame level but it was just so unlikely that he'd hang in there through that ninth inning in that (this) era. Also a game for which I carry great affection.
czaradio said…
I think you've got to go reliever, only because they are entering the game fresh, which should up the degree of difficulty. While I know Gibson and Carlton routinely went 9 (or more), I've got to believe that after 9 the pitcher would be a little tired, or being a 3rd or 4th at bat by the player, that there would be some sort of advantage.

But having to face a fresh Sutter or Rivera with the game on the line, and succeeding, that's significance. I voted for the Rivera wins - both were big hits in the fishbowl that is the Subway Series, so they happened under extreme pressure. Would put the Sutter walkoff second, only because it wasn't in the melee that is mets/yanks.
Anonymous said…
How about an honorable mention for Fergie Jenkins who lost in walkoff fashion the afternoon before Tom Seaver's "imperfect game".

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