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Sour 16

On this, the anniversary of the unspeakable (bad things involving Kenny Rogers and Carlos Beltran), I think I have found one of the great statistical bizarre-ities in Mets history.

The Mets are 1-2 in games in which their pitcher strikes out 16 and walks 0.

The Mets are also 1-2 in games in which they have a pitcher strike out 0 and walks 6.

How in the world am I supposed to explain that?

Dwight Gooden had back-to-back 16-strikeout, 0-walk games, which I think is one of the most remarkable accomplishments in club history. Unfortunately, in baseball, as in life, Gooden won and then lost.

The first of those games was a 2-0 win over the Pirates on September 12, 1984, in which Gooden was backed by Hubie Brooks' 4th-inning home run against John Tudor. Gooden allowed five hits, and the funny thing is that the only innings in which he didn't record a strikeout were the first and the ninth. He had a chance at a 19 K game had he struck out the side in the 9th, but instead, the Pirates went down on a groundout and two flyouts, with Gooden getting Tony Pena out as the tying run at the plate to end the game. This was also the night in which Gooden broke Herb Score's rookie record for most strikeouts in a season, reaching 251 in this contest.

Said Pirates manager Chuck Tanner to the media afterwards: "Our guys weren't saying anything at all in the dugout. They didn't have time. They were striking out so fast, they had to run back on the field.''

Five days later, Gooden nearly replicated the effort against the Phillies, only this time, his effort was spoiled. Gooden struck out at least one batter in every inning and would have had a shot at a 19 K game had there been a bottom of the 9th in Philadelphia. There was not and Gooden got beat in one of the strangest manners in Mets history. Phillies starting pitcher Shane Rawley, who ended his career a .138 hitter, got one of seven hits against Gooden, and eventually scored when Gooden balked while Rawley was on third base. Gooden had been distracted by Keith Hernandez, who yelled out "step off" as Gooden went into his motion to deliver a pitch, and Hernandez accepted the blame and embarassment after the game.

That wasn't a walk-off, but it might as well have been. The other one was. It was a wasted Sid Fernandez gem, a 16 strikeout game against the Braves on July 14, 1989, in which Fernandez wound up on the short end when Lonnie Smith crushed a game-ending home run leading off the bottom of the 9th. Smith had struck out three times previously, and when asked afterwards how he hit a home run, he replied "I have no answer for it," which I suppose is appropriate for this story.
The first time a Mets pitcher struck out none and walked six was a rather odd occurrence in that the pitcher was a reliever, Dale Murray, who bypassed three batters apiece in the 8th and 9th innings against the Cubs on June 28, 1978. Chicago scored thrice in the eighth to go ahead 8-5 (via Bobby Murcer walk and Dave Kingman 2-run single).

The Mets tied the game with three of their own in the top of the 9th, and Murray somehow survived a three-walk (two intentional) bottom of the frame (helped by the fact that the Cubs were out of players and pitcher Ray Burris couldn't bring in a run with the bases loaded). The agonizing watch that this game must have been ended in the bottom of the 10th when Mick Kelleher bunted Kingman home via two-strike squeeze play with the winning run.

Amazingly, the other two instances took place exactly four years apart. Jesse Orosco earned his first major-league victory due in part to Pete Falcone's wildness on April 22, 1979 (6 1/3 innings, 2 runs, 6 walks, no strikeouts). The Mets rallied after Orosco got them out of trouble in the seventh, scoring four runs off Steve Carlton to win, 4-2.

The last of these instances came on April 22, 1983, and starter Scott Holman (5 innings, 1 run, 2 hits, 6 walks, no strikeouts) wasn't the only one unable to find the strike zone against the Braves. In all, Mets pitchers walked 12 and struck out none, a feat that hadn't happened before or since, dating back to 1957. The last of those walks, by reliever Neil Allen was costly, as Dale Murphy scored the winning run all the way from first base, on a walk-off hit by Chris Chambliss.

''With the walks we gave, they should have beat us, 102 to 2,'' Allen, in the midst of a terrible stretch, told the media after the game.

Yes, this is true, but it doesn't explain this, and we won't take the time to go through the games now. Perhaps sometime in the future, we'll explain this one. The Mets are 0-3 in games in which the OPPOSING pitcher strikes out none and walks 7(!)

True Meteens know...Two pitchers in Mets history have had a pair of outings in which they struck out none and walked at least five. They are Tom Glavine and Nolan Ryan.


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