Friday, September 30, 2011

Top Mets Games of the Year: #10-6

Even if you finish 77-85, when you play 162 games in a season, you're gonna have some pretty thrilling wins. 2011 was no exception. The New York Mets' season was filled with thrilling come-from-behind victories and equally thrilling lopsided triumphs. What I've done is come up with the ten best games Met wins from the season that was, my own "Top Ten List," per say. But there's no Letterman funniness in this list, only fond memories.

Instead of cramming all the goodness together in one post, we're gonna spread it out over the next couple days. Tonight, we'll be covering top games 10-6, then after tomorrow's reflection on the bottom five games of the year (sad, but we have to do it), we'll finish off the weekend with the top five games of 2011.

Let's let the good times roll:

#10: Game #93: Mets 11, Phillies 2
Saturday, July 16. Citi Field, Flushing, NY
A couple weeks after Jose Reyes began his first DL stint, Carlos Beltran came down with the flu and had to miss this Saturday afternoon contest against the Mets' hated rivals. With David Wright still out of commission, New York's batting order for the day consisted of: Pagan-Turner-Hairston-Murphy-Bay-Paulino-Evans-Tejada-Niese. On the mound for the Phillies? Former World Series MVP Cole Hamels.

Who didn't think they would put up an 11-spot?

Scott Hairston led the charge from the 3-hole, finishing the afternoon 3-5 with a home run, 2 doubles, and 5 RBIs. Daniel Murphy, not to be outdone, also went 3-5 with a home run and 2 RBIs, the solo shot coming in the 5th, the same inning Hamels was knocked out of the game. On the other side of the hill, Jon Niese turned in a superb pitching effort, limiting Philadelphia to one earned run (2 total) in 7 innings. New York would lose the series, dropping games the previous day and next day, but I'd say embarrassing your archrivals on national TV with the ultimate makeshift lineup makes up for that.

#9: Game #28: Mets 2, Phillies 1 (14)
Sunday, May 1. Citizens' Bank Park, Philadelphia, PA
This Sunday Night affair started off innocently enough. Chris Young pitched masterfully against Cliff Lee, getting in line for the win after 7 shutout innings. The Phillies tied it in the 8th, but the real fireworks started in the 9th inning. Out of nowhere, a chant started building in the crowd. As Dr. Seuss once wrote, "It started out low, then it started to grow."

U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A!

As the news of the death of Osama bin Laden spread through the crowd at Citizens' Bank Park, the action on the field seemed less important, and these two bitter rivals looked less like enemies. While people will remember where they were when they first heard the news, what gets forgotten is that the game being played was a real dandy. Ronny Paulino capped a 5-7 night with the game-winning single in the top of the 14th, and as it was in 2001 in the aftermath of 9/11, the Mets won the game blended together with the bigger story.

#8: Game #97: Mets 6, Cardinals 5 (10)
Wednesday, July 20. Citi Field, Flushing, NY
This game has special significance to me because it was on my 20th birthday during a wonderful vacation in South Haven, MI. What better way to end that day than with a game like this? A real present.

ESPN was in the booth, and Gary, Ron, and Keith were on the Pepsi Porch for this Wednesday Night affair. R.A. Dickey didn't have his best outing, falling behind 4-0 in the 3rd, but the team got back into it that next half inning. New father Josh Thole doubled in Lucas Duda, and Dickey himself bounced a grounder into left to score Thole. In the 5th, with Jose Reyes on base, Carlos Beltran sent one towards the SNY crew in right with his 15th home run (and last with the Mets). The Cardinals re-took the lead in the 8th, but Thole, still sky high with excitement, laced a 2-out single to tie the game. After Jason Isringhausen tore through the heart of the St. Louis order, Angel Pagan blasted the first pitch he saw in the 10th, sending it literally a couple feet from Gary, Ron, and Keith, giving the Mets their first and only walk-off home run of 2011, and receiving one of many whipped cream pies in the face Willie Harris would dole out through the summer.

#7: Game #156: Mets 8, Cardinals 6
Thursday, September 22. Busch Stadium, St. Louis, MO
By this point, things were pretty bleak for Terry and his team. Long out of the playoff picture and falling fast in the standings, New York was down 6-1 in the 8th inning, appearing to be all but swept away by the Wild Card-charging Cardinals. St. Louis ended up making the playoffs after Wednesday night's 24-esque finish, but if they hadn't, they would have looked at this game as the back-breaker.

Ruben Tejada singled in the 8th, then went to second on an error, third on a wild pitch, and came home on a passed ball. In the 9th, Willie Harris walked. Then Nick Evans reached on an error. Josh Thole flew out. Jason Pridie walked. Justin Turner walked, forcing in a run. 6-3. Jose Reyes singled, one run scored. 6-4. Ruben Tejada, "Mr. Bases Loaded," doubled home 2 runs. 6-6. The man who started the whole rally, Willie Harris, singled home 2 more runs. 8-6, Mets win.

New York was supposed to fold up and go home, being down so many runs with so few outs left. But Terry Collins helped to instill a never-say-die attitude in his young Mets this season, and this Thursday afternoon in St. Louis was the last, and one of the finest, examples of that winning attitude.

#6: Game #79: Mets 14, Tigers 3
Tuesday, June 28. Comerica Park, Detroit, MI
This was one of many attempts the Mets would make at getting back over the .500 mark in June. Against one of the top teams of the American League, I doubt many people gave the Amazin's a realistic shot of doing it on this Tuesday night. And even if they did manage to squeeze it out, there's no way anyone saw them winning like this.

Riding a title wave of runs all the way from Texas, New York got started early. Doubles from Daniel Murphy and Angel Pagan brought home the first 2 runs in the 1st. After two quick outs in the 4th, the Mets really blew it up. After already plating 3 runs and loading the bases, Jason Bay stepped up hoping to end the team's 299-game grand slam drought. With a towering shot down the left field line, Bay made sure it wasn't 300 games. In the 5th is when things got really freaky: after waiting almost 2 years between grand slams, New York had to wait just 2 outs, as Carlos Beltran lifted the second grand salami of the night into the Detroit night.

There weren't too many times when Mets fans could feel on top of the world this season, but this game in Detroit was one of them. The next night the team scored 16 more runs (all without a home run), making it a team-record 52 runs in 4 games and catapulting the team back into the win column.

And that's it for now. Tomorrow we'll get the bottom five out of the way; check back on Sunday for the top five games Mets games of the year.


No comments:

Post a Comment