#10 (April 23, 24, 25, 1965) Hope Springs Eternal
The good feelings that came with the start of the 1965 baseball season lasted two weeks longer than any Mets season previous. In other words, they lasted for two weeks. The reason for that was the way the Mets performed in winning three of four games against a San Francisco squad that feel just short of the pennant. The manner in which they won- triumphs of 9-8, 7-6 and 4-3 rivaled anything that the club has already done in its extraordinary early 2007 triumphs.
The 9-8 victory required a comeback from 6 runs down against future Hall of Famer Gaylord Perry, including a 4-run rally in the 9th. The 7-6 win required a similar such 9th inning burst with pinch-hitter Danny Napoleon playing the Damion Easley role by lashing a 3-run, 2-out, 2-strike triple to put the Mets ahead (Casey Stengel, celebrated in the clubhouse by yelling "Vive La France!" then learned afterwards that it was his 3,000th pro managerial victory). The 4-3 triumph was one for the ages, an early birthday present for soon-to-turn-44-year-old complete-game tosser Warren Spahn.
"Where will it all end?" The New York Times asked as the Mets stood a respectful 6-7 after 13 games.
The Mets were within an out of .500 in Houston 2 nights later when the earth returned to spinning on its normal axis. A fly ball, lost in the room turned into a game-losing two-run double. The 1965 Mets finished a very familiar 50-112.
True Metophiles know...The Giants record for consecutive wins against the Mets is 9 games, done twice. The first time began immediately following this series, and ran from June 8-August 27, 1965. The second streak ran from August 27, 2001 to May 16, 2003.
#9 (May 15, 1987) When Fat(e) Intervened
He would have done it, I swear. If Sid Fernandez had not suffered bodily harm he would have thrown a no-hitter that day. He had one for five innings against the Giants but the physical damage of the portly southpaw hitting a triple in the fourth proved to much to bear. Doug Sisk relieved and the no-hitter was "poof" one-third of the way into the sixth. The one consolation: beating Mike Krukow, who beat the 1986 squad 4 times, 8-3, with home runs from Len Dykstra, Darryl Strawberry and Howard Johnson. As a Giant, Krukow went 11-4 against the Mets, but this was not one of his better days.
True Metophiles know...Sid Fernandez's other triple came on August 17, 1985, in a 4-3 win over the Pirates. Fernandez ranks tied with Ron Darling for third place on the Mets pitchers all-time triples list with 2.
#8 (August 31, 1990) A Rally Good Time
An improbable rally- three runs with two outs in the bottom of the 9th- made all the more improbable by the coincidence of the Pirates giving up three runs with two outs in the bottom of the 9th against the Astros. Back-to-back singles by Howard Johnson and Kevin McReynolds brought in the tying and winning runs, made a winner of Frank Viola, and pushed the Mets to within 1/2 a game of first place.
Read about it here: http://metswalkoffs.blogspot.com/2005/08/stars-in-alignment.html
True Metophiles know... The win capped a month in which the Mets got 3 wins in games in which they got a game-tying RBI with 2 outs in the 9th inning.
#7 (September 1, 1985) The 'Mex'ster is Out of the Cage
"Can one swing turn around a hitter? Absolutely." That was the question asked and answered by Keith Hernandez on page 341 of the paperback edition of his book, If At First, after this game.
Hernandez ended August in a 1-for-17 funk and if the Mets wanted to have any shot at the division title in 1985, they needed a great September from Hernandez. But with his best hitter struggling and lefty Dave Lapoint on the mound in San Francisco, Davey Johnson opted to bench Hernandez for that day's game. He saved him for when he was needed most.
That happened to be with Mookie Wilson representing the tying run on second base, with one out in the ninth inning and Giants reliever Mark Davis (whom the Mets beat 3 times that season) on to try to preserve a 3-2 lead. Hernandez fell behind, 1-2, guessed curveball, and guessed right. He cranked an upper-deck home run, putting the Mets ahead for an eventual 4-3 victory.
"The swing today may be the best I've ever executed," Hernandez wrote. It got him back on track. He went 5-for-5 the next game against the Padres and ended up hitting .395 combined in his final 32 games. The Mets didn't win the division, but Hernandez did everything he could to give them a chance.
True Metophiles know...On 14 occasions, a reliever has lost 3 games to the Mets in a season, but the only one to lose 4 is Jeff Shaw (1998).
#6 (May 30, 1986) A Giant Mixup
For those unfamilar, I've referenced this game, a personal favorite, a couple of times in blogging. This is the "other" game that the '86 Mets won on a walk-off error in the 10th inning, a dropped popup as the result of a collision between Giants second baseman Robby Thompson and shortstop Jose Uribe. It was a fascinating game, one in which the lead changed hands four times. It's importance on the non-existant pennant race was minimal, but its impact on my life was what I consider significant. You can read about it here:
True Metophiles know...The only time the Mets lost to the Giants on a walk-off error was August 14, 1971. The miscue was made by pitcher Charlie Williams, who was traded to the Giants the next season for Willie Mays.
#5 (May 29 and August 24, 1973) Giant-Sized Believers
How do you win a pennant? Win games like these two improbable triumphs. May 29 featured a 16 K gem by Seaver (who homered in the game), which would have been a 2-1 loss were it not for a 4-run rally in the 9th. August 24 was a 1-0 10-inning walk-off against Juan Marichal in which the key play, prior to Felix Millan's game-winning hit, was a sacrifice bunt by a man with 660 career home runs, Willie Mays.
True Metophiles know... Seaver and Dwight Gooden share the Mets record for most strikeouts in a game against the Giants. Gooden had 16 on August 20, 1985, topping a 14 K game he had against them on May 30, 1985...Willie Mays had 13 career sacrifice bunts, including four in his final two seasons as a member of the Mets.
#4 (June 14, 1980) Hendu For a Home Run
The signature win for the "Miserable Mets" (circa 1977-1983), who for a very brief period during the 1980 season gave the fans a sense of hope that had been missing for a long time. This was one of the first games we blogged about, a five-run bottom-of-the-ninth rally, capped by Steve Henderson's first home run of the year, a 3-run shot that gave the Mets a 7-6 victory.
Henderson recalled that game, on the 25th anniversary of its occurrence, here:
True Metophiles know...Steve Henderson ended up going 5-for-6 in his career against Allen Ripley and hit for the "career cycle," with 2 singles, a double, a triple, and the home run against him.
#3 (May 14, 1972) The A'Mays'in Met
It wasn't a walk-off, though it might as well have been, since the drama was just as great for this moment, as a game-ender.
New York Times writer Joe Durso referred to this 5-4 victory as a "far-fetched" soap opera and perhaps "Another World" would have been the appropriate title. After an early 4-0 lead, courtesy of a Rusty Staub slump-snapping grand slam, was erased by a four-run Giants comeback, Willie Mays, playing in his first game since being traded to the Mets, lined a go-ahead home run off Don Carrithers in the fifth inning. Neither team would score again, meaning that Mays actions had prompted victory against the team for whom he had played the previous 20-plus years.
True Metophiles know...Willie Mays had 2 walk-off hits in his career against the Mets, a home run in 1962 and a single in 1968
#2 (August 19, 1969) Agee Whiz
The signature game (yes, I like that phrase) of the 1969 refuse-to-lose Mets (or, for those who prefer, "Miracle Mets") was this 1-0, 14-inning squeaker against the Giants and Juan Marichal. The Mets never beat Marichal, but this game was the rarest of exceptions, one in which Gary Gentry and Tug McGraw combined to hold Bobby Bonds, Willie Mays, and Willie McCovey to 0-for-17 at the plate, an extraordinary accomplishment often overlooked because of the way this game ended- with Tommie Agee smacking a home run off Marichal in the last of the 14th.
True Metophiles know...Including the postseason, the Mets have shut out the Giants 41 times. Likewise, the Giants have recorded 41 shutouts against the Mets.
Chances are, if you've read this far, that you're quite familiar with Games 2, 3 and 4 of the 2000 NLDS between the Mets and the Giants, so I'll keep the details minimal and the perspective unusual.
Did you know that Barry Bonds was the final out of each of these three games? As Gary Cohen pointed out in Monday's telecast, Bonds was frozen by a John Franco changeup to close Game 2. He popped out to Edgardo Alfonzo just prior to Benny Agbayani's walk-off home run in Game 3. And, he made the final out of the series by flying out to Jay Payton to end Game 4.
Even though Game 3 of this series was a Saturday, I've always associated it with "Thank God It's Friday." That's where I was eating when Edgardo Alfonzo got the oft-forgotten game-tying hit off Giants closer Robb Nen in the bottom of the 8th inning. I scurried to work in time to see the contest's conclusion and had the pleasure of standing next to a Phillies fan when Benny Agbayani hit his walk-off home run. "Don't you think the Mets celebration was a little excessive?" he asked. I couldn't answer. I was too busy running victory laps around our newsroom.
In regards to Game 4, I spoke to someone with a strong connection to that game, from the losing end, and when I asked about Bobby Jones' near-perfect clinching performance, he huffed. "Jones had nothing that day." Actually, I think the more appropriate term for the one-hitter, the best-pitched Mets game I've seen in person, would be "almost nothing."
True Metophiles know...That since the LDS was resumed, the 2000 Mets hold the NL record for most consecutive scoreless innings thrown in a series, with 18 (spanning Game 3 and 4). The AL record is 20, set last season, by the Tigers against the Yankees.