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This Rose Had Thorns

What was the best performance against the Mets by someone who cheated the game of baseball in some way?

I'm not picking the two-homer, seven-RBI game from Alex Rodriguez on July 2, 2006, though that would certainly be timely, worthy and appropriate.

Instead, I'm going to choose one from a game I stumbled across inadvertently, while reading about Joe Torre's Mets managerial career.

I'm referring to that by then-Red Pete Rose on April 29, 1978. In that game, Rose, who was on the verge of reaching 3,000 career hits (the stories the next day were about his desire to do so at home), went 5-for-6 with three home runs against three different Mets pitchers.

I must admit that this is one of the oddest box scores I've come across. This was a game that the Mets led 6-1 after three innings, with the key hit being Bobby Valentine's two-run single to cap a four-run first frame. Over the next six innings, the Mets were outscored, 13-1.

Rose homered in the fourth to cut the Mets lead to 6-3. He homered again in the fifth, and by this time his two-run shot increased Cincinnati's edge to 9-6. His eighth inning home run earned him a standing ovation at Shea (I remember when Mark McGwire got one of those) and accounted for the final score in a 14-7 victory. It is the only time in Mets history that they've allowed the same player to get five hits and three home runs in the same game.

There's another quirk to this contest. I would argue that it should stand as the best-pitched bad performance in Mets history. Starter Nino Espinosa lasted 3 2/3 innings and struck out eight hitters. That was the good part. Unfortunately, there was a bad part.

In the first three innings, Espinosa allowed one run (a home run to Dan Driessen) and struck out seven. In the fourth inning, Espinosa, who entered ahead by five runs, added one more strikeout, giving him eight. Unfortunately he didn't make it through the frame. Joe Torre didn't have a choice, basically, because Espinosa allowed three more home runs. His removal didn't stop the Reds, who scored 10 runs off a bullpen that would have had you wishing for the Mets relievers of 2008.

Those we've Met who smell like a Rose know... Five players have had a pair of 5-hit games against the Mets: Pete Rose, Ron Santo, Terry Pendleton, Sean Casey, and Brett Butler.

Comments

GM-Carson said…
Over the next few weeks WSBGM's will be breaking down each of the NL East teams' rosters. First on the docket is the infield (outfield, rotation, and bullpen to follow). There's a poll to vote on the best NL East infield following the breakdown of each teams' players.

Link: http://pabaseball.blogspot.com/2009/02/nl-east-infields.html

Give it a link if you like it...thanks.

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