Sunday, October 2, 2011

Top Mets Games of the Year: #5-1

We've come to the very best of the year that was. A couple days ago we took a look at the 10th through 6th best games of 2011. Now, we'll look back on a handful of games that were even better: the top five Mets games of 2011.

#5: Game #56: Mets 9, Pirates 8
Thursday, June 2. Citi Field, Flushing, NY
With two bad losses and Terry Collins' message of "Things have got to change" still ringing in their ears, the Mets capped a 4-game set with the Pirates on this Thursday afternoon. After falling behind 7-0 in the middle of the 3rd, it looked to be business as usual. Then, after two quick outs in the bottom of the 3rd, the team woke up. Oh, did they wake up.

Carlos Beltran blasted a 3-run homer to get New York on the board, then hit a double that started a rally in the 6th inning that led to a 4-spot and a tie game. The 8th inning brought us one of the more confusing sequences in recent memory (see "Straight Outta the Twilight Zone" in the game summary), which was capped by a Ruben Tejada sac fly (one of his first clutch moments of the year) and a bases loaded walk by, who else, Carlos Beltran. Francisco Rodriguez walked his tightrope in the 9th but ended up with the save. The comeback win broke the team out of its Wilpongate malaise and helped to spark one exciting month of June.

#4: Game #59: Mets 6, Braves 4
Sunday, June 5. Citi Field, Flushing, NY
Just three days after the Pittsburgh comeback, the Mets played host to the Atlanta Braves on ESPN's Sunday Night Baseball. Jose Reyes was already red-hot at this point, but it was with the national spotlight on him that he caught fire.

Like clockwork, Reyes led off the game with a single and came home on Carlos Beltran's double. He drew a walk and scored on a wild pitch in the 2nd. In the 4th he drove home a run by stretching a routine single into a double. It was in the midst of Jose's latest showing that ESPN's Bobby Valentine finally spoke out, calling Wilpon's Bluff on the whole "Keep Reyes or Keep Wright" farce. The former Met manager's prediction eventually came true, as Reyes finished out his record-setting year in the orange and blue, and while it's not yet set in stone, it appears likely that New York will be Jose's home for next year and beyond.

The rest of the game was not nearly as eventful, but quite satisfying for Met fans from Long Island to Long Beach. R.A. Dickey was masterful and the bullpen survived the 9th inning, giving the team a primetime victory that surely surprised a few people. And at 220+ pageviews, the summary from this game registered as Midwestern Met's most widely read post of the year.

#3: Game #84: Mets 3, Yankees 2 (10)
Sunday, July 3. Citi Field, Flushing, NY
It was the day Jose Reyes was named the NL's starting shortstop in the All-Star Game, but nobody was smiling after Jose's injury the day before. The strain of Reyes' left hamstring abruptly ended his other-worldly run at the plate and landed him on the DL for the first time on the year. Add that deflating development to a 2-1 deficit in the bottom of the 9th, and it appeared the Mets were on their way to a sweep at the hands of Mariano Rivera their intra-city rivals. Then Jason Bay caught lightning in a bottle.

It started out innocently enough: Bay took a close 3-2 cutter and drew a two-out walk. Then Lucas Duda came through with a single that sent Bay to third. Ronny Paulino fell behind early, but fought back to ground a base hit into right to tie the game. Duda may have been thrown out at home on the next at-bat, but it didn't matter: the Mets had come back against the greatest closer in baseball history. It was on to extras.

K-Rod got out of trouble in the top of the 10th and Scott Hairston drew a leadoff walk in the bottom half. Angel Pagan sac-bunted him over to second, and Justin Turner was hit by a pitch. After Carlos Beltran struck out, Daniel Murphy hit a weak grounder to short that Ramiro Pena couldn't handle. Up came Jason Bay, the man who started it all in the 9th. If Bay doesn't do anything else in his New York career, he'll be remembered for this: Jason laced a single into right center, and just like that the Mets were winners.

Aside from coming back from the dead against the Yankees, what makes this game one of the best of the year was the way the Mets were able to show resiliency in the face of adversity. Their superstar had been bitten by the injury bug, and yet they refused to go quietly into the good night. It was a common theme for the Mets in 2011, as is demonstrated by these next two games.

#2: Game #104: Mets 8, Reds 2
Wednesday, July 27. Great American Ballpark, Cincinnati, OH
I confess, I'm more than a little partial to this one. First, I was at this game, and second, it was the best time I've ever had at a baseball game. Luckily, it also happened to be one of the more compelling games of the entire season. And one of the greatest.

Hours before, Carlos Beltran was dealt to the Giants. To Reds fans in the stands, this appeared to be New York's throwing in of the towel. After all, they had just traded away one of their best players for, at least on the surface, peanuts. Little did anyone know, those peanuts were San Fran's top pitching prospect. And what's more, Beltran's replacement on the field that night helped the Mets do absolutely everything right on that Wednesday night.

Angel Pagan got things going fast with a 2-run 1st-inning double. In the 5th, new 3-hole hitter Daniel Murphy highlighted a 4-5 night (with his family in the stands, no less) with an RBI double. In the 6th, new right fielder Lucas Duda made an early case for a permanent spot in the lineup, blasting a laser of a solo homer into the right field stands. David Wright's 3-run longball in the 7th capped the scoring night for the Mets, and Mike Pelfrey rode that momentum all the way home for the complete-game victory.

Once again, the Mets showed the baseball world that they would not fold in the face of adversity. Even with one of the franchise's all-time greats on his way out, Terry Collins and his boys were going to keep playing, and keep winning.

So what could possibly top any of these games and take the cake as the Mets' best of 2011? Try the one right after the team's worst of 2011.

#1: Game #114: Mets 9, Padres 8
Monday, August 8. Citi Field, Flushing, NY
The day before, Jose Reyes was placed on the DL for the second time, and the team's other .300 hitter, Daniel Murphy, was knocked out for the year with an MCL injury. There was supposed to be no coming back from this. The experts called it, the fans called it, I called it, much of the baseball universe called it. The season was over. Done. Pack it up, wait till next year.

Except, it wasn't. Baseball has the longest season of any sport: 162 glorious games. The Reyes and Murphy injuries happened in Game #113. The Mets still had 49 more games to play in 2011. With 49 more games, there were still plenty of chances to give the fans a thrill. Oh boy, they didn't make 'em wait long.

Down 8-4 after the Padres broke it open with 4 in the 8th, New York got 2 back after a Mike Baxter double and Ronny Paulino sac fly. But still being down 2 runs and about to face one of the best closers in baseball in Heath Bell, the odds were still stacked against the team making a comeback.

But Jason Pridie led off the 9th with a single. After Angel Pagan struck out, Justin Turner came through in the clutch again with a single, sending Pridie to third. David Wright, not particularly known for his clutch hitting, swung at the first pitch he saw and grounded it through the hole into center, scoring Pridie. Up came Lucas Duda, looking to do something big. After a rare wild pitch from Bell advanced Turner and Wright to second and third, it was the best chance Duda could have asked for. Lucas punched a ground ball past a diving Orlando Hudson at second and into right center. Turner easily raced home, and Wright slid in for the game-winner, getting up to join the frenzy mobbing Duda between first and second. Against all odds, the Mets had come back and won the ballgame.

The reason this particular game tops the other 161 is that, more than any game the whole season, Mets fans needed this win. After what had happened the previous afternoon, they had to have this win. It didn't look like it was ever going to come, but with everything going against them, in the face of their biggest adversity of an adversity-filled year, the New York Mets refused to quit. And they gave their fans that win. And on the back of this win on the night of August 8, Mets fans got through the rest of the 2011 season with their faith in their team as strong as ever.

And that does it for Midwestern Met's top ten New York Mets games of 2011. Here's to the many more great wins coming in 2012.



  1. As an experienced Mets blogger, this is my first look at your site. It's well designed. I like the layout. I would suggest adding a twitter link and a facebook fan page to link here too. It gains more exposure that way and makes the side column longer to limit the blank space toward the bottom.

    Onto the article, I like the list here. I think the order is slightly off though. I would have the Yankees game at 1 and the Padres game at 2 then the Reds game at 3. Plus I think you should have considered the blowout of Cole Hamels on national TV on Fox Saturday.

    I just think the Yankees game was bigger since we came back on probably the best closer in baseball history when they needed a win. The Phillies game is obvious, it's the Phillies. Good list though. Well done.

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