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Ovation Worthy

I was watching the end of Game 2 of the 1969 World Series on MLB Network a day or so ago, and was intrigued by something that happened right at the end of the game.

When Jerry Koosman departed after 8 2/3 innings, pitching the Mets to within an out of victory, the Orioles fans IN BALTIMORE gave him a very loud and sincere ovation.

Perhaps they were happy because he was pulled from the game (Koosman allowed only one run and two hits), but it seemed to be more than that. Greg of Faith and Fear tells me that it was a custom of that time that the road pitcher would get cheered if he did well, and I have a vague recollection of that being so from my early days as a fan.

Anyway, I just thought it made for a cool moment, and it also got me to look up the most ovation-worthy Mets pitching performances. But let's go one further on the criteria and limit it strictly to ROAD GAMES.

In 1988, Bill James invented a stat called Game Score that evaluates starting pitching performance. An average score is a 50. A good game would be in the 70s. A really good one would be in the 80s. An extraordinary start would be in the 90s. An all-time unbelievable pitching performance is a 100, but those are very few and far between, as they should be.

The Mets have had 35 road postseason games. Thanks to Baseball-Reference, I can tell you that their best starting pitcher game scores in those are as follows:

89- Jon Matlack, 1973 NLCS Game 2 at Reds

Matlack pitched a two-hit shutout with nine strikeouts against the Big Red Machine to even that series at 1-1. Pete Rose, Joe Morgan, Johnny Bench and Tony Perez were a combined 0-for-16.

For those curious, Matlack's 89 is the highest-scoring Mets postseason start, edging the 2000 clinchers (Bobby Jones, LDS and Mike Hampton LCS) each by one point.

77- Jerry Koosman, 1969 WS Game 2 at Orioles

At first glance, a 12-point difference between Matlack's start and Koosman's seems rather stark, but...

- Matlack completed his two-hitter. Koosman did not.
- Matlack pitched a shutout. Koosman allowed a run.
- Matlack struck out nine. Koosman struck out four.

Game Score doesn't factor in that one was in the World Series and one was in the LCS, so there's no chance for Koosman to make up any ground there. If you wanted to call this the best Mets road postseason start, I'd be okay with it, though I'd actually like to see the Matlack one (hello, SNY?) to better gauge.

76- David Cone, 1988 NLCS Game 6 at Dodgers

This one was a season-saver, and though it doesn't make up for the debacle that was Cone's Game 2 showing, it was still pretty virtuous- a one-run, five-hit, 120-pitch complete game that pushed the series to a seventh game. Unfortunately, it set the stage for the road start that rates 2nd-worst in Mets history (more on that in a moment).

76- Tom Seaver, 1973 NLCS Game 1 at Reds

The best-pitched Mets road postseason loss was the opener of the LCS in which Tom Seaver was terrific for seven innings, but had disastrous blemishes in the eighth and ninth in the form of home runs by Pete Rose and Johnny Bench, the latter being a walk-off and the resultant 2-1 loss. His strikeout total for the game- a very unlucky 13.

70- Dwight Gooden, 1988 NLCS Game 1 at Dodgers

Overshadowed by the way the Mets rallied for three runs in the ninth against Orel Hershiser and Jay Howell was that Gooden pitched a darn good game- 7 innings, 2 runs, 4 hits, 10 strikeouts. I'm actually thinking that Gooden was better in Game 1 of the 1986 NLCS against the Astros in the 1-0 loss to Mike Scott, but the numbers rate this game as better.


As for the 3 worst, I'll address those with a list and a one-liner:

19- Steve Trachsel, 2006 NLCS Game 3 at Cardinals
23- Ron Darling, 1988 NLCS Game 7 at Dodgers
25- Al Leiter, 1999 NLCS Game 6 at Braves

I think it says a lot about just how horrendous those first two were that the Leiter start (and might we remind you that Leiter got NO OUTS and allowed FIVE RUNS) rated higher.

Comments

adam20ss said…
I love this blog.

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