Skip to main content

Smith and Messin'

Speaking of taking the Mets seriously, if you were looking for a reason to do so in 1984, there were reasons aplenty through the first month of the season.

The six straight road wins after an ugly Opening Day loss were one good one, as were two nifty comeback wins at home against the Expos. A 3-3 split over six games with the Phillies provided some optimism, though the Mets were beaten soundly on a couple of those occasions.

May began with the Mets tied for first place with the equally surprising Cubs, with the two clashing in a pair in Flushing to open the month. I seem to recall these contests being written about on another blog, but without being able to find the reference, I'll recount them for my purposes here.

The series opener put the Mets in first place by themselves, an 8-1 rout behind Dwight Gooden. Keith Hernandez and Hubie Brooks each drove in two runs and Darryl Strawberry had three doubles in what was an impressive triumph.

Things would get a little tougher the next day as the Cubs struck for three early runs against Tim Leary. One of the customs of the 1984 Mets, particularly early in the season, was their ability to rally and in this instance, they did so one run at a time. Brooks drove in a run in the 4th with a double and a wild pitch produced another tally in the 5th. The 5th was a rather adventurous inning, in which Jose Oquendo kneed Cubs catcher Jody Davis (referred to in the NY Times as "Jody Foster") on a play at the plate, causing both benches to empty, but nothing more than words to be exchanged.

It would take until the 7th for the Mets to even the score, which they did when George Foster homered off Warren Brusstar.

The newspapers the next day would cite the Mets unsung heroes, one of whom was Ed Lynch, who tossed 4 scoreless innings in relief of Leary. This gave the Mets a chance to work some magic in the last of the 9th.

Cubs skipper Jim Frey, formerly the Mets hitting coach, brought in his closer Lee Smith for the 8th inning (this sort of thing was done then) and Smith stayed in for the 9th as well. Smith earned baseball's crown as the all-time saves leader (soon to be surpassed) by working a little harder than closers do nowadays. He was a frequent foe for the Mets, appearing in 85 games against them, winning 9, losing 13, and saving 38. He was a man best known for his girth and the speed from which he walked in from the bullpen (very, very slow).

Pinch-hitter extraordinaire Danny Heep led off the frame by doing something rather unusual for a man of his speed and skill. He tripled, the first batter to do so against Smith in nearly two years. It was one of six triples in Heep's big league career.

Forced into a tough spot, Frey had Smith purposely walk both Wally Backman and Rusty Staub to fill the bases and set up force plays everywhere. The strategy failed when Hernandez lifted a fly ball to left, deep enough to plate Heep with the winning run. The victory put the Mets in sole possession of first place and again established that this team wasn't just messing around with early success. It was a club worth taking seriously

True Meths know...The Mets have 10 walk-off wins in their history against pitchers named Smith. That count includes 5 against Lee Smith, 2 against Dave Smith, 2 against Bryn Smith and 1 against Dan Smith.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Walk-Offs in Movies, TV, and Other Places

Note: I'm leaving this post up through the end of the week, a) because I don't have time to pump out something new and b)because I was hoping to build a really good list of entertainment industry walk-offs...so if you're looking for something new, check back on Monday or so... Of course, if there's a major trade or move, I'll adjust and try to post something... In the meantime, click on the "Table of Contents" link as well. It has been updated. SPOILER ALERT: Read at your own risk Caught the ending of "A League of Their Own" on one of the movie channels the other day and it got me to thinking that it would be fun to compile a list of walk-offs from movies, television, and other forms of entertainment. Here's the start, and only the start, as I spent about 30 minutes or so thinking it over Help me fill in the blanks by filling out the comments section. "A League of Their Own"-- Racine beats Rockford for the All-American Girls

The 'Duca of Earl (and walk-offs)

If I told you that the Mets had just obtained a guy who is a career .316 hitter with runners in scoring position? How about if I told you that the Mets just traded for a hitter who has consistently ranked among the toughest in baseball to strike out? Or if I mentioned that the Mets just dealt for a player who was selected to the NL All-Star team the last three seasons, with the last honor coming via a vote by his peers? So, although he's on the down side age wise, his throwing arm isn't as good as it used to be, and he doesn't provide much power, there are a lot of good things that Paul Lo Duca brings to the New York Mets. For example: He'll sacrifice his body for the good of the team The Dodgers and Braves squared off on August 23, 2002 and Lo Duca made an impact both on the start and finish of this game. Three pitches after being dusted by Greg Maddux, Lo Duca made him pay with a first-inning home run. The Braves rallied to tie the game, 3-3 in the ninth, but thei

Minutiae Break: Worst Mets Relievers

It occurs to me after 79 straight walk-off related posts and some fatigue still remaining from Saturday's finish that I did promise to bring Metspective on other issues related to the Flushing 9, so I offer this posting up as a "Minutiae Break." This came about after several discussions related to the offhand Dick Tidrow/Danny Graves remark the other day , the conclusion of which indicated that it would be fun to create a list of the worst Mets relievers of all-time. I don't want to step on the territory of other bloggers, like " Faith and Fear in Flushing ," Mets Guy in Michigan " and " Metstradamus ," so I'll tread carefully here, aided by their influence. Should any friends, family members, or fans of these pitchers visit this site, I mean no harm. I'm just here to have a little fun with this topic. The ground rules are as follows: The pitcher must have had a Mets stint as long as Dick Tidrow's (11 games, 15 2/3 innings), for