Saturday, October 1, 2011

Bottom Five Mets Games of the Year

Any Mets loss is a bad loss, but amongst the 85 fans had to endure in 2011, these five rise above (sink to the bottom?) of the rest in terms of awfulness. If you can handle the sadness, keep reading for the bottom five Mets games of the 2011 season.

#5: Game #146: Cubs 10, Mets 6 (11)
Sunday, September 11. Citi Field, Flushing, NY
In September 2001, Mike Piazza's legendary homer against the Braves helped to heal New York City after the devastation of 9/11. Ten years later, after an emotional pre-game ceremony honoring the fallen, the Mets looked to further add to the healing legacy. Instead, all it could give fans on this Sunday Night occasion was a broken heart.

After falling behind early, Angel Pagan's score on an error tied the game in the 8th. In the 9th, David Wright had a chance to be the hero with 2 on and none out. He grounded into a fielder's choice, but an intentional walk loaded the bases for Jason Bay. Bay grounded into a force at home, and a Jason Pridie 3-2 strikeout later, New York had squandered a grand opportunity. In the next inning, they did it again, loading the bases with 2 out for Wright, who had a second chance to be a hero. One weak popout later, that chance was gone. Jason Pridie hit a 2-run homer in the 11th, but after 6 Chicago runs preceding it, Pridie's blast was a moot point. The deflating loss was the epicenter of a season-breaking 1-8 homestand that wiped out whatever chance the Mets had of reaching .500 for the year.

#4: Game #69: Braves 9, Mets 8 (10)
Thursday, June 16. Turner Field, Atlanta, GA
A big storyline in the team's first half of the season was its climb back from a 5-13 start to reach the .500 mark. By this Thursday night in Atlanta, they had gotten back. And they were just 2 outs away from their first winning record since they were 3-2. Francisco Rodriguez had not blown a save since game #2, and was entering the 9th with a 2-run lead. You can chalk this one up, right? Wrong.

K-Rod gave up a game-tying 2-run homer to Brooks Conrad, who had homered just one other time in 2011. After failing to score in the top of the 10th, DJ Carrasco got his first two outs after a double play. But he wasn't out of the woods just yet. Diory Hernandez hit his first double of the year, then went to third on a Jordan Schafer infield single. Jason Heyward came up with the chance to be the hero. He wouldn't need to be, as Carrasco balked in the winning run. New York went back into the loss column, and it would take another 10 games before they would get over the peak that was Mount .500.

#3: Brewers 11, Mets 9
Saturday, August 30. Citi Field, Flushing, NY
Talk about your mixed emotions. On this Saturday afternoon in August, the Mets fell behind 7-1 after 6 innings. Then after plating 5 in the 7th, the team had to face its former closer, Francisco Rodriguez, now set-up man for John Axford and Milwaukee. K-Rod's return trip to Flushing revived some old demons, as Josh Thole doubled home the game-tying run with 2 out, and Angel Pagan blasted one to right to give the Mets a 9-7 lead. All then-acting closer Jason Isringhausen needed to do was put away the Brewers' 8-9-1 hitters for the win. He wouldn't get a single out.

After a couple walks and a single, Izzy walked home the first run of the inning. His three other baserunners would score off Manny Acosta, giving the Brewers an 11-9 lead. A lead that superstar closer John Axford would not relinquish in his half of the 9th. And the worst part of it? K-Rod picked up the W. Ouch.

#2: Game #47: Cubs 11, Mets 1
Tuesday, May 24. Wrigley Field, Chicago, IL
After a disappointing series loss in the Bronx, New York was looking to get back on track against a pretty bad Chicago team. But the Mets' biggest obstacle on this night wasn't the Cubs. It was their owner.

All the air had been let out of the Mets long before this game begin, thanks to Fred Wilpon's comments in The New Yorker magazine on Carlos Beltran, David Wright, and Jose Reyes. After this latest PR disaster for the team and its already-embattled owner, they had no chance of even being competitive. The low-point of this already-low night was when pitcher Carlos Zambrano was sent up to pinch hit in the 7th inning and singled in two runs. It was in the wake of that at-bat that I went into a rant against Wilpon, which you can read about, if you so choose, in my post from that day.

#1: Game #113: Braves 6, Mets 5
Sunday, August 7. Citi Field, Flushing, NY
So what could possibly rank worse than the immediate fallout of Wilpongate? Try the game in which the team's top two hitters and its season were lost.

Jose Reyes was forced from the game in the 2nd with more trouble in his left hamstring; this strain would land him on the 15-day DL for the second time in a little over a month. Then in the 7th, the Mets were dealt an even more serious injury. Daniel Murphy, a shaky fielder anywhere he plays, was at second base this afternoon. As Jose Constanza attempted to steal second, Murphy got his left leg in an awkward position and right in the path of Constanza's cleat. One cringe-worthy collision later, and Murph was grabbing his left knee in agony. The MCL injury would end Daniel Murphy's season.

Amazingly, New York was able to tie this game in the bottom of the 7th. But in the 9th, the team's meeting with Atlanta ended the way it has far too many times since the 1990s: with a guy named Larry delivering the final blow. Game over, playoff chances over. The Mets would go 21-28 the rest of the year.

Okay, enough with the wallowing in sadness. We're about to get to the good stuff. Check back tomorrow to relive the absolute best moments from the year that was: the top five Mets games of 2011.


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