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Let's 'Red'minisce a Little Bit

A friend of mine says that I've gotten away from reminiscing about previous Mets walk-offs on this site, and in scouring through my database, looking for games I haven't written about, I realized that there are some good stories left to be told, ones that are just as good as winning 10 in a row by rallying from two runs down in the ninth..

Since we're currently in a Mets-Reds phase, we might as well tie them into the mix, and we can do so by reminiscing about the matchup of Darryl Strawberry and John Franco.

As most of you know well, Franco's sinkerball vexed many a lefthanded hitter. Lefthanders had 1,100 at-bats against Franco and managed a slugging percentage of only .306 with 11 home runs.
Barry Bonds hit .229 against Franco, and made a rather enormous couple of outs against him in the 2000 postseason. Mark Grace, another solid lefthanded batsman of the era, managed just a .148 batting average against Franco. Strawberry wasn't even that good. In 14 at-bats, he managed just two hits, and in 1986, Franco struck him out to close one-run wins on two occasions. But sandwiched around that were two rather memorable moments.

The first came on April 13, 1985, the first Saturday of the baseball season. The Mets, 3-0 at that point (with two walk-off wins), battled the Reds in a rather entertaining, albeit low-scoring afternoon affair.

There were some intriguing moments in this one, as Ed Lynch and Tom Browning each held their opposition to one run in seven innings. The Mets lone tally came in the seventh, with the aide of an Eric Davis three-base error on Kelvin Chapman's allegedly harmless fly ball (he'd score on a Keith Hernandez sacrifice fly.

Cesar Cedeno would flummox the Mets with a key home run for the Cardinals later that season, but on this occasion of needed clutchness, he'd fail, hitting into a double play against Roger McDowell to help squash a threat in the Mets ninth.

In the bottom of the ninth, Franco was working his second inning of relief. Perhaps he got a bit fatigued, because on a 1-1 pitch to Strawberry, he left the ball up too much. Strawberry crushed it to right field, for his first home run of the season and his first career walk-off home run.

How about this quote from Davey Johnson after the game: "The good guys won."

A few years later, the Mets weren't such good guys, but the Strawberry-Franco matchup came into play again. This time it was May 6, 1988, by which time Franco had established himself as a dominant reliever, on the way to a 39-save season. He was a reliever who hadn't allowed a home run to a lefty hitter in more than three years.

The Mets were 18-7 and would go on to win 100 games on the strength of wins like these. They took an early 2-0 lead in soggy surroundings, with both runs coming via Strawberry. The Reds would tie in the seventh inning against Dwight Gooden on RBI hits by Dave Collins and Chris Sabo. The Reds managed 11 hits against Gooden and had chances for more scoring in regulation, but were unsuccessful.

In the 10th, Sabo gave the Reds a 3-2 lead on a home run against Mets closer Randy Myers. Franco appeared on the way to a save, retiring both Mookie Wilson and Tim Teufel without issue. But then, inexplicably, he threw four straight wide pitches to Keith Hernandez, setting up another confrontation with Strawberry.

This wouldn't last long. Strawberry banged the first pitch off the scoreboard in right center field for a walk-off two-run home run and another rather satisfying Mets victory.

True Metberrys know...Strawberry had all 4 Mets RBI in the 4-3 win. That's the most RBI by a Met, who accounted for ALL OF THE METS RBI in a walk-off win.

Also of note: The Mets have now had eight win streaks of 10+ games. This current streak is the first one that didn't include a walk-off win.

And also worth mentioning: The last time the Mets came back from 2+ runs down in the 9th against the Reds was in 1986.


czaradio said…
Thanks for the memories. I actually (kind of, vaguely) remember watching this game. Sticks out because Straw drove in all the runs...
Anonymous said…
First four games of '85 were one-run Mets victories. I think that was a record, at least at the time.

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