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Best Games I Know: Good Guys 6, Bad Guys 5

All information is current through the morning of May 8, prior to the Mets series opener with the Phillies.

I had remarked to a blogging colleague a couple of years ago that I thought it would be neat to look at the best Mets wins by score of game. The reality of the matter is that such a project is extremely ambitious, but I decided recently that it would be worth trying to do for the scores of games that I found interesting.

I find no score in Mets history to be more significant than 6-5. The reasoning is simple. That was the final score of the World Series game played on October 25, 1986. It has also been the final score to a great number of Metmorable wins in franchise history. Here are some of the highlights.

The First (May 15, 1962)

The first 6-5 win in Mets history came in their 26th game, though it would be in their next game that they would get their second. The first one, against the Cubs, required 15 walks and 13 innings, and required rallies from deficits of 1-0, 4-1, and 5-4 to win.
Hobie Landrith, the same guy who hit the Mets first walk-off home run, just three days prior, won the game with a pinch-hit walk in the home 13th.

True Metophiles know...The Mets have won 96 regular-season games and four postseason games by the final score of 6-5.

The Last (September 2, 2008)

The most recent 6-5 win came last September 2, and little did we know it was the 100th of its kind. It is better known for being Jonathon Niese's major league debut, a game in Milwaukee in which the Mets blew a 5-1 lead only to win in 10 innings.

Endy Chavez drove in Daniel Murphy via sacrifice fly in the 10th inning for the win. Luis Ayala escaped a two-on, two-out jam in the 10th by striking out Rickie Weeks to earn the save.
True Metophiles know...Since 1995, the Mets have had at least one 6-5 win every year.

"First" Win (September 1, 1990)

In compiling this list, I was looking for one game that would have significance to a player beyond the basic appreciation of victory. September 1, 1990 likely falls into that category for Julio Valera since it was his first major league victory.

It's also a game that put the Mets into first place, albeit temporarily. The Mets took an early 4-0 lead (Darryl Strawberry HR #30), then held on, with help from likely-chagrined relievers Bob Ojeda and Ron Darling (who probably thought Valera's entry into the starting rotation would eventually be costly...it was). They had to survive the usual routine of a dicey ninth inning from John Franco, but one that ended with the visiting Giants stranding a pair. Twas win number five in a seven-game win streak, immediately followed by a September struggle that cost the team a shot at the division title.

True Metophiles know...The Mets had 16 wins by a 6-5 score in the 90s, far surpassed by the 26 they've had in the 2000s.

The Double-Tagout (October 4, 2006)

Remember when the Mets used to be the beneficiaries of others baserunning fugups, rather than the other way around? It wasn't that long ago. Game 1 of the 2006 NLDS featured perhaps the weirdest play from which the Mets have ever benefited, when Russell Martin's single to the right field wall turned into a double play. Jeff Kent, thinking the ball was going to be caught, was thrown out at home, thanks largely to a nice relay by Jose Valentin. Then, J.D. Drew, who knew the ball wouldn't be caught, got trapped running too far and too hard, and was tagged out while lunging for the plate by a shellshocked Paul Lo Duca.

Somewhat obscured by this is how the game ended, with the Mets winning by a run. The difference was RBI hits by Msrs Delgado and Wright in the seventh inning. That gave the Mets a two-run cushion, which was subsequently trimmed to one via Ramon Martinez's (!) RBI double in the visiting 9th. But Billy Wagner saved the day, striking out Nomar Garciaparra to end the game

True Metophiles know...John Maine, who started this game for the Mets, finished the 2006 regular season with a record of 6-5. He was the third pitcher in Mets history to finish a season with that mark, joining Roger McDowell (1985) and Tom Hausman (1980).

The other walk-offs (Too many to list individually)

The Mets have had 32 walk-off wins which ended with a 6-5 final score. Among the notable "others" are:

* April 27, 1976, a game that made a cult hero of super-sub Bruce Boisclair, whose two-run, two-out double gave the Mets an unlikely comeback win over the Braves.

* Opening Day, 1985, in which Gary Carter won his Mets debut with a home run in the 10th inning against Cardinals reliever Neil Allen.

* September 12, 1985, in which Keith Hernandez closed the finale of a crucial three-game series with the Cardinals by singling off Ken Dayley, scoring Mookie Wilson with the winning run.

* July 29, 2001, in which it was said to me : "We'll be going home after Piazza's at-bat." When Mike Piazza came through for us with a walk-off home run to beat the Phillies, we left the ballpark quite happy.

* May 17, 2007, in which the Mets rallied from 5-1 down in the ninth score five times, with the last two runs coming home on Carlos Delgado's single against Cubs reliever Scott Eyre.

True Metophiles know...The most common score in a Mets walk-off win is 3-2 (70 times).

The 100 (Oct 1, 1969)

Had the Cubs not gakked and had the Mets not staged their miraculous conclusion to the season, this penultimate game of the season at Wrigley Field might have meant a lot more. Instead, it provided the team with the perfect round number with which to conclude their victory total.

It took 12 innings and six Mets pitchers to put the wraps on this one, a game that the Mets blew a 5-3 lead in the home ninth only to win anyway on Art Shamsky's 12th-inning single.

True Metophiles know...Bob Johnson earned the save in this game. Johnson's only other major-league save came against the Mets on September 30, 1972. Earlier in that game, Roberto Clemente got his 3,000th career hit against Mets starter Jon Matlack.

The 1980s

As you'll read below, 1986 was the best season for 6-5 wins, and 1985 scores rather respectably as well. But 1980 holds up pretty well in its own right. The Mets won four games, all in the span of less than a month, in 1980 that featured a 6-5 final score.

May 28- Shut out for seven innings by Cardinals starter John Fulgham, the Mets rallied for six runs with two outs in the eighth inning to beat the Cardinals bullpen. The key hits came from unlikely sources- a three-run double by Elliott Maddox and a go-ahead RBI single to right by Jose Moreno. Neil Allen saved the game, barely, stranding five baserunners in the final two innings. Among those on the shellshocked Cardinals- first baseman Keith Hernandez, whose 1-for-5 dropped his season average to .360.

June 7- It took nearly four hours for the Mets to fully rally from deficits of 4-1 and 5-4 to down the defending champion Pirates in 11 innings, but it was a worthwhile win. The Mets took three of four in the series as part of a stretch in which they won eight of 10, oft prevailing in similar comeback fashion. Joel Youngblood tied it with a double and Ron Hodges won the game with a single off Pirates reliever Bert Blyleven.

June 12- The Mets continued their rallying ways by coming back from 5-0 down. The Dodgers hurt themselves in this one, with four Mets runs coming home on errors. The story of this win was the relief effort of Neil Allen who held a one-run edge with three scoreless innings of relief.

June 24- Another rally, this from 5-2 down in Wrigley Field, capped the Mets run of 6-5 victories. Newcomer Claudell Washington won it with a two-run home run in the fifth inning, with young Jeff Reardon notching a three-inning, five-strikeout save in impressive fashion.

True Metophiles know...All five of the 6-5 wins the Mets had from 1964 to 1967 came in doubleheaders.

The NLCS (October 12, 2000)

Jay Payton was 6-for-36 in the first two rounds of the 2000 postseason, but he was in the right place to win this game with a ninth-inning single. Payton's clutchness put the Mets ahead 2-0 in the NLCS in a game probably best-remembered for Rick Ankiel's first-inning wildness.

Al Leiter made seven postseason starts for the Mets and deserved better than to finish winless. This one, he had the chance with a 5-3 lead, but John Franco Turk Wendell couldn't close out the eighth inning. Armando Benitez was able to get the last three outs, putting the Mets in position to wrap up the series in New York with two wins.

True Metophiles know...Other memorable postseason games decided by a 6-5 final score include Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS (Aaron Boone walk-off HR), Game 6 of the 2002 World Series (Angels rally from 5-0 down), and Game 3 of the 1977 NLCS (Dodgers score 3 in the 9th to stun Phillies).

Before Ball on the Wall (Sept 18, 1973)

Before Ball on the Wall, which set the Mets up for their miracle 1973 runs, was this game, which doesn't have a fancy moniker, but was extraordinarily vital to the teams cause. The Mets were three outs away from a 4-1 loss, which would have put them 4 1/2 games out of first place with 11 to play.

They'd rally for five runs, with key hits from Felix Millan, Ron Hodges, and Don Hahn, then survive a really, really, really dicey ninth inning in which the Pirates scored once and loaded the bases. With Tug McGraw unavailable, it was Buzz Capra who got the last out, retiring Manny Sanguillen on a fly to center, beginning a stretch of four straight wins against the first place Pirates and an eventual rise to the top of the NL East.

True Metophiles know...The only Mets pitcher with a 6-strikeout, 5-walk game was Jon Matlack, who managed those numbers in a 7-0 shutout of the Phillies, May 30, 1972.

The 1986s (April 21, June 13, July 3, August 27, September 7, September 25, October 11, October 25)

It was appropriate that the most famous game in Mets history ended with the final score that it did, since that was the signature score of the 1986 season. The Mets won eight games in 1986 by that account, and their was major drama in every one. I'll keep the descriptions succinct, since you probably tired from reading this far.

April 21- If you've seen the 1986 highlight video, you may remember how Ray Knight's game-tying eighth-inning HR set the stage for his season, but it took two runs in the ninth (RBI hits from Tim Teufel and Gary Carter) to win.

June 13- Darryl Strawberry beats the Pirates with a walk-off single

July 3- The foreshadowing for October 25. A three-run rally in the home 10th ends with Knight crossing the plate after making up for four strikeouts with a walk-off home run.

August 27- A "routine double play" scored 8-2-5 ends an 11-inning victory in San Diego.

September 7- 1985 World Series hero Dane Iorg strands a pair of Padres runners to end the nailbiter.

October 11- The man they call Nails hits a walk-off home run in Game 3 of the NLCS.

October 25- You know what happened.

True Metophiles know...While the 1986 team holds the club record for most 6-5 wins, with eight, the 1969 team holds the club record for 1-0 wins with 9.

Comments

Binny said…
Love that this was posted today. PROPHET!
Anonymous said…
Saw your headline and was impressed at how quickly you wrote such a great post so after a 6-5 Met win over the BAD Guys. Then I saw the time of day when you posted it... and I was even more impressed with your psychic abilities! Great job!!!
Unser said…
Well done. Truly great reading.

Unfortunately, I went 0 for 4 in that 4/27/76 game . . .

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