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Operation Walk-Off

From what I read these last few days, Jose Reyes is the hottest Met going since Derek Bell. Yes, that's right, I'm referencing Bell's great run, right at the beginning of his Mets career, which spanned the 2000 season.

That success began with back-to-back 3-hit games against the Phillies. It continued for a span of nearly two weeks. Over a 13-game stretch, the Mets rightfielder went 29-for-57 (.509 batting average) with 14 runs scored and 11 RBI. His acquisition looked like the steal of the century.

Bell's good fortune continued throughout the month of April, in which he hit .385 (and was not named NL Player of the Month) and into May when he had another good run, marked by an 11-game hit streak.

On May 21, the Mets and Diamondbacks met on a rainy Sunday afternoon, with Randy Johnson opposing the Flushing 9. It took two baters for the Mets to get the run back that Reed allowed in the top of the 1st. Bell followed a Joe McEwing double with one of his own.

This was one of those games in which it was good for the home team to be batting last. The Diamondbacks led 1-0, 3-2, 5-3, and 6-5, and on each occasion, the Mets came back.

The final rally came in the 8th and 9th innings. Robin Ventura evened the score at 6 with his next-to-last inning pinch-hit home run. Then, in the last of the 9th, Joe McEwing led off with a walk, stole second, and scored when Bell lined a single down the right field line.

Unfortunately for the Mets, there was payback in store for his hotter-than-a-pistol streak, because with the next game, Bell began a run in which he went hitless for 4 games, that stretched to 3-for-45 over an 11-game span. He was never quite the same player after that, finishing at .266 and by the end of the season, was forced into Operation Shutdown mode when he sprained his ankle in Game 1 of the NLDS. This proved to be a blessing in disguise as it led to the emergence of Timo Perez, whose Reyes'-like run through the NLDS and NLCS helped put the Mets into the World Series.

True Metreks know...Derek Wallace is the only Met named Derek to be the winning pitcher in a walk-off win, doing so twice in 1996.

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