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Devil Rey

So I pondered, as I drove home from work on Tuesday night, as to what was the Metsian equivalent to what the Rangers did to the Devils in rallying from two goals down against Martin Brodeur in the third period to win, 3-2.

That's the kind of thing that never happens. In fact, we heard that it is the kind of thing that had never before happened in the history of the Rangers-Devils rivalry. I often refer to Mariano Rivera as "Satan," but Brodeur is probably a better fit for that name, since he plays for a team with a more appropriate moniker. His value is the equivalent, if not of greater value of what Rivera means to the Yankees.

But I felt like picking a game in which Rivera blew a lead against the Mets was taking the easy way out, since most Met followers recollect the Matt Franco two-run walk-off pinch-hit of July 10, 1999, and besides, the Mets were only a run down entering the inning, as opposed to the deficit the Rangers faced in their final frame.

Then it hit me. There's a game that one fellow blogger has encouraged me to write about and it just so happens to be the ideal fit for this scenario, even though it required overtime to reach a conclusion. Based on some research, I believe I missed watching this game because it conflicted with a Knicks-Pacers playoff contest.

I'm referring to the Mets-Blue Jays contest of June 9, 1999 (a month and a day prior to Franco-Rivera). The Mets entered having won three straight but some of their better bats were in for a struggle against Toronto's southpaw starter David Wells. With two members of the 2006 Mets in the starting lineup (and Shawn Green making a cameo off the bench), the Blue Jays put up single runs in the second, third and fourth to take a 3-0 lead.

First baseman Carlos Delgado (who had an RBI double) and shortstop Chris Woodward (two hits) teamed with Wells to make that lead stand. Heading into the last of the 9th, the Mets had only four hits and trailed 3-0. Rickey Henderson grounded to third to start the frame, the eighth straight hitter retired by Wells to that point, but Edgardo Alfonzo followed with a single.

Ex-Blue Jay John Olerud had the chance to wear the goathorns against his former team, but his grounder back to Wells resulted in only one out, not two, and gave Mike Piazza a chance to hit, still down 3-0 with one on and two out. Piazza singled to center, sending Olerud to third, then stole second with Robin Ventura at the plate. Ventura fouled three pitches off with the count 2-2 than hit a grounder up the middle for single, scoring both Olerud and Piazza.

Luis Lopez pinch-ran for Ventura and Blue Jays skipper Jim Fregosi yanked Wells for closer Billy Koch in the hopes that he could retire Brian McRae. This proved to be a rare moment of success for McRae, usually a rally-killer, who delivered a double down the left field line. Lopez scampered in with the tying run. The Mets had a chance to win, but after an intentional walk to Roger Cedeno, Koch retired Rey Ordonez on a comebacker.

To make a long story shorter, the Mets bullpen was particularly stellar in this contest and the Blue Jays pen was equally solid. That's often forgotten by what happened in the 12th inning, when Bobby Valentine was ejected for arguing a catchers interference call against his team, and donned a hat/fake mustache disguise in order to continue watching the game (no truth to the rumor that afterward he said "The Devil(s) made me do it..."

This game stretched out into the 14th inning when Toronto moundsman Tom Davey faltered and walked both Lopez and McRae to start things out. Dan Plesac replaced Davey, but Roger Cedeno was able to successfully sacrifice and advance both runners to second and third.

Given the option of walking good-field (3 Gold Gloves)/no-hit Ordonez to set up the double play, the Blue Jays declined. Ordonez, normally lacking in offensive skills, was given a second chance to win the game and delivered a game-winning single to left field. That completed an amazing comeback, one from three runs down with two outs in the ninth inning. It was also rare on a Brodeurian level in that it was Ordonez's only walk-off hit among his 721 knocks as a Met.

As it so happens, we reference this contest (and this Rangers victory) on the same day that Ordonez makes a baseball comeback, signing a minor league deal with the Seattle Mariners. Funny how everything seems to come full circle around here.

True Metonez's know...Rey Ordonez got his first major-league RBI on April 4, 1996, a game that the Mets won in walk-off fashion. They beat the Cardinals that day, 10-9, scoring twice in the last of the ninth inning against Hall of Famer Dennis Eckersley.


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