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The Pen is Mightier Than the Word

"What you witnessed on Monday was not just the first one-run Opening Day road win in Mets history, but also arguably the best performance by a Mets bullpen in an Opening Day game in a long time, if not all-time."
-- Me, after the Mets 2009 Opening Day win.

Seems like a good time to dissect the other candidates...

March 31, 1998
Greg McMichael, Dennis Cook, John Franco, Mel Rojas, Turk Wendell
8 innings, 0 runs, 5 hits, 4 walks in a 1-0 14-inning win vs the Phillies

Major kudos to this combo, and if you wanted to say it's the best, I couldn't argue. The quintet fought gamely to preserve this scoreless tie before Alberto Castillo won it with a walk-off hit in the 14th. Go figure that the escape artist of the day would be Mel Rojas, who struck out Bobby Abreu as part of an inning-ending double play in the 11th, and coaxed a Scott Rolen flyout with two on to end the 12th.

April 1, 1996
Blas Minor, Jerry Dipoto, Doug Henry, John Franco
5 1/3 innings, 0 runs, 5 hits, 1 walk in a 7-6 win vs the Cardinals

The Mets were down 6-0 in this one when the bullpen began its work in the fourth. They stalled the Cardinals long enough for the Mets to rally, though the true relief in this one came from shortstop Rey Ordonez, who threw Royce Clayton out at the plate with a relay throw from his knees, after a Ray Lankford double in the seventh. The Mets trailed 6-3 at the time, but that was the impetus for the comeback, which came in the home half of the frame.

April 5, 1983
Doug Sisk
3 innings, 0 runs, 2 hits, 2 walks in 2-0 win vs Phillies

This one is much better known for Tom Seaver's Mets return, so the last three innings are oft-forgotten. Yes, Doug Sisk makes the list solo here, primarily for a ninth inning in which, with the tying runs on base, he retired back-to-back Hall of Famers in Mike Schmidt and Tony Perez, to end the game.

April 9, 1981
Tom Hausman, Neil Allen
3 1/3 innings, 0 runs, 1 hit in 2-0 win at Cubs

Tom Hausman struck (pardon the pun) a Cubs rally in the 6th, picking a man off second for his only work. That was followed by three modestly-dominant innings from Neil Allen, who struck out three, to finish the combined shutout for Pat Zachry.

April 15, 1972
Tug McGraw
3 innings, 0 runs, 0 hits in 4-0 win vs Pirates

Tug McGraw had the luxury of a four-run cushion, but he makes the list for a perfect three innings, a stint capped by a 1-2-3 ninth in which he set down Al Oliver and Hall of Famers Roberto Clemente and Willie Stargell with no issues.

April 7, 1970
Ron Taylor, Tug McGraw
3 innings, 0 runs, 0 hits, 1 walk in 5-3, 10-inning win at Pirates

The Mets began their Opening Day dominance with this win, their first in a season debut. Donn Clendenon's two-run single in the 10th brought back memories of 1969, but it wouldn't have been possible without yeomen's work from Taylor and McGraw, who were basically flawless in closing this one out.

Another debate worth checking out: Can you pick the best home-grown players by franchise? Fellow blogger Sully has. Check it out here:


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