Armando Benitez

Best Mets Of All Time: No. 59 Fernando Salas

When it comes to the number 59 in Mets history, there are a lot of bad memories. That started with the first to wear it, Guillermo Mota, shaking off Paul Lo Duca and throwing a pitch which would change the entire course of the 2006 NLCS.

After Mota, there was Josh Smoker who had durability issues, and Antonio Bastardo. Bastrardo struggled so much the Mets actually welcomed back Jon Niese. That brings us to Fernando Salas, who was one of the few players to do something positive in a Mets uniform.

The Mets had obtained Salas from the Los Angeles Angels at the end of the waiver trade deadline. At that point, the Mets were 1.5 games of the Wild Card, and they were in desperate need of bullpen help. Like Addison Reed the year before, Salas was great over the final month of the season.

In 17 appearances, Salas was 0-1 with a 2.08 ERA, 0.635 WHIP, and a 9.9 K/9. Remarkably, he did not walk one batter while striking out 19 batters. Over that stretch, no one in the league made more appearances than he did, and he would have the seventh best WHIP. Overall, he proved to be the missing key to that bullpen which helped the Mets go from the outside looking in for the 2016 postseason.

Salas would return to the Mets after signing a deal in the offseason. He got off to a hot start with seven scoreless appearances and a 2.89 ERA over his first nine. However, he would eventually wilt after Terry Collins kept going to the whip with him. After his struggles, he was released a few weeks prior to the anniversary of the day the Mets obtained him.

While things did not end well, and Salas was not up to the rigors of pitching in the bullpen for Collins, he was everything the Mets needed him to be in 2016. It is very likely without Salas’ performance in 2016, the Mets might’ve missed a Wild Card they claimed by just one game over the St. Louis Cardinals. For that 2016 performance, he is the best Mets player to ever wear the number 59.

Previous

1.Mookie Wilson
2.Mackey Sasser
3. Curtis Granderson
4. Lenny Dykstra
5. David Wright
6. Wally Backman
7. Jose Reyes
8. Gary Carter

9. Todd Hundley
10. Rey Ordonez
11. Wayne Garrett
12. John Stearns

13. Edgardo Alfonzo
14. Gil Hodges
15. Carlos Beltran

16. Dwight Gooden
17. Keith Hernandez
18. Darryl Strawberry

19. Bob Ojeda
20. Howard Johnson
21. Cleon Jones
22. Al Leiter
23. Bernard Gilkey
24. Art Shamsky

25. Pedro Feliciano
26. Terry Leach
27. Jeurys Familia
28. Daniel Murphy

29. Frank Viola
30. Michael Conforto
31. Mike Piazza

32. Jon Matlack
33. Matt Harvey

34. Noah Syndergaard
35. Rick Reed
36. Jerry Koosman
37. Casey Stengel
38. Skip Lockwood
39. Gary Gentry
40. Bartolo Colon
41. Tom Seaver

42. Ron Taylor
43. R.A. Dickey
44. David Cone
45. Tug McGraw

46. Oliver Perez
47. Jesse Orosco
48. Jacob deGrom
49. Armando Benitez
50. Sid Fernandez
51. Rick White
52. Yoenis Cespedes
53. Chad Bradford
54. T.J. Rivera
55. Orel Hershiser
56. Andres Torres
57. Johan Santana
58. Jenrry Mejia

 

2000 Game Recap: Rookie Pat Burrell Becoming A Mets Killer

Starting with Mike Piazza hitting a first inning two run homer off of Curt Schilling scoring Edgardo Alfonzo to give the Mets a 2-0 lead, this game had a bit of an ugly deja vu feeling to their frustrating loss to the Phillies yesterday.

Part of that deja vu was Pat Burrell being the Phillies big bat leading the assault. The other part was a ninth inning meltdown by the Mets bullpen.

After two, the Mets had a 3-0 lead with Jason Tyner hitting an RBI ground out scoring Jay Payton in the second. Al Leiter would surrender that 3-0 lead in the third with two of the three runs being unearned.

With one out, Robin Ventura made a rare error allowing Doug Glanville to reach safely. After that, the Phillies would load the bases. Mike Lieberthal hit a two run double, and then Kevin Jordan hit a sacrifice fly tying the game at 3-3.

After the score was tied, Schilling had begun making quick work of the Mets lineup. Starting with the second inning, Schilling retired nine in a row. After Schilling retired Tyner to lead off the fifth, Leiter and Melvin Mora would hit a back-to-back singles, but the Mets could not push a run across.

That immediately came back to haunt the Mets with Burrell leading off the sixth with a homer. In the seventh, it was Ron Gant homering against Leiter to give the Phillies a 5-3 lead. When Scott Rolen followed the Gant homer with a single, Bobby Valentine lifted Leiter for Turk Wendell.

You could argue Leiter deserved better on the day. Through his 6.1 innings, he had allowed five runs with only three of them earned. He would walk three while striking out seven. However, that third inning rally was exacerbated by Leiter, and he didn’t get the big out he needed.

Fortunately for Leiter, the Mets would get him off the hook. Chris Brock came out of the Phillies bullpen in the eighth, and he was greeted immediately with back-to-back singles by Derek Bell and Alfonzo. After Alfonzo stole second and Piazza struck out, there was runners on second and third with one out. Ventura delivered and atoned for the two unearned runs resulting from his error with a two RBI single tying the game.

The Mets had the chance to take the lead but squandered it. Todd Zeile followed Ventura’s RBI single with a single of his own. The rally ended there as Payton struck out, and Tyner grounded out to end the inning. Much like in the sixth, the Mets would immediately regret wasting this chance.

John Franco had nothing. He was pitching for the second straight game and third time over a four day span. Perhaps, he was just tired. Whatever the case, he imploded.

After a Gant double, there were runners on second and third with no outs. After Franco struck out Scott Rolen, Lieberthal, who is a Mets killer, was walked to load the bases and set up a potential double play. That double play never happened.

Franco walked Jordan to force home a run. Then, Valentine brought in Benitez to pitch to Burrell. Benitez was tired himself. He had pitched over an inning yesterday and threw 33 pitches. On the fifth pitch to Burrell, Burrell got Benitez again this time hitting a grand slam to put the Phillies up 10-5.

With the Mets going down 1-2-3 in the ninth, they yet again had wasted a good pitching performance, and they were unable to overcome the failures of Benitez. Worse yet, it seems as if the rookie Pat Burrell is starting to become a Mets killer.

Game Notes: Piazza is currently riding an 11 game hitting streak. Rey Ordonez has been officially ruled out for the rest of the year leaving the Mets to ride with Melvin Mora and Kurt Abbott at shortstop until they decided to obtain one in a trade.

Editor’s Note: With there being no games to begin the season, this site will follow the 2000 season and post recaps as if those games happened in real time. If nothing else, it is better to remember this pennant winning season and revisit some of the overlooked games than it is to dwell on the complete lack of baseball.

2000 Game Recap: Hampton’s Gritty Performance Spoiled

Look, Armando Benitez was going to blow a save sooner or later. With how dominant he has been on this recent stretch, you knew it was going to happen sooner or later. He’s allowed these hiccups, but ultimately, he’s not the biggest reason the Mets lost this game. Far from it.

The Mets seemed like they were primed to crush the Phillies. In the first, Edgardo Alfonzo hit a two out single against Paul Byrd, and then Mike Piazza hit a two run homer giving the Mets a 2-0 lead. After that homer, the Mets did nothing.

Byrd came into this game with a 7.86 ERA, and he had allowed 4+ runs in five of his nine starts. In two of his last four starts, he allowed 6+. However, today, after allowing that two run homer to Piazza, the Mets would muster just four more hits and one walk over the ensuing five innings.

That included a blown opportunity in the sixth. Robin Ventura hit a two out single putting runners at the corners with two outs, but Todd Zeile was unable to capitalize on the opportunity as he grounded out to end the inning.

Still, the Mets would have the lead as Mike Hampton, who finally pitched without a rain delay, was brilliant. Through the first six innings, he shut out the Phillies limiting them to two hits. Now, that doesn’t mean the Phillies didn’t get their chances. They certainly did with Hampton walking six batters.

That meant he needed to do a few Houdini acts. In the first, he walked two batters, but he got around that by picking Ron Gant off first and getting Mike Lieberthal to hit into an inning ending double play. Again, in the third, Hampton walked two, and he would retire Lieberthal to end the jam. It would not be until the seventh when the Phillies got to Hampton.

In the seventh, the Phillies rally started with Kevin Sefcik and Alex Arias leading off the inning with back-to-back singles. After Desi Relaford sacrificed them over, Doug Glanville pulled the Phillies to within 2-1 by hitting a sacrifice fly. Hampton got out of the inning retiring Gant.

After John Franco pitched a scoreless eighth, Benitez took the mound looking to record his 17th save of the season and extend his scoreless inning streak past 17.0 innings. That all ended when Pat Burrell led off the top of the ninth with a solo homer.

Benitez got out of that inning without allowing another base runner, but he would not be so lucky in the 10th. After the Mets went down 1-2-3 in the bottom of the ninth, Glanville led off the inning with a double. Benitez seemed to shake it off striking out the next two batters. That’s when Liebererthal, who had failed twice earlier in the game, came through with an RBI single to give the Phillies their first lead in the game.

After the Mets went down 1-2-3 in the 10th, they would suffer a very frustrating 3-2 loss. The Phillies just had Benitez’s number today, but at the end of the day, you really have to pin this on a Mets offense who could not score any runs over nine innings against a very suspect Phillies pitching staff.

Game Notes: Curt Schilling said he would be willing to accept a trade to either the Mets or the Yankees.

Editor’s Note: With there being no games to begin the season, this site will follow the 2000 season and post recaps as if those games happened in real time. If nothing else, it is better to remember this pennant winning season and revisit some of the overlooked games than it is to dwell on the complete lack of baseball.

Best Mets Of All Time: No. 58 Jenrry Mejia

If you want to talk about one of the most truly bizarre Mets careers, you need not look much further than Jenrry Mejia. Really, it started that way, and it ended that way.

Mejia was shockingly a member of the Opening Day roster for the 2010 Mets at the behest of Jerry Manuel. Seeing his power arm, Manuel wanted the Mets to eschew his development as a potential front line starter and make him the bullpen arm the team needed. The Mets would acquiesce and give Manuel some conditions, ones Manuel would ultimately by and large ignore.

That started a strange four year odyssey where the Mets could not figure out if they wanted Mejia to be a starter or reliever. Initially after sending him down in 2010, they wanted to stretch him out to be a starter, but time and again, they would move him back to the bullpen. That may have been a factor in his needing Tommy John surgery in 2011.

You could somewhat understand the Mets thinking. Mejia was one of the best pitchers in the organization, and for a team in perpetual need of bullpen help, you could see why they wanted him on the Major League roster. However, when he did get the rare chance to start, he would show flashes of being great.

Mejia had a good stretch in the Major League rotation in 2013, and before he was shut down for innings limits in 2013, he appeared to have locked down a spot in the Major League rotation. In fact, he would be a part of the 2014 Opening Day rotation, and he would actually start the season quite well including another terrific start against the Nationals.

Mejia would weaken over the first month of the season, and he would again be moved to the bullpen. This time, he would stick there, and after the retread arms of Kyle Farnsworth and Jose Valverde were released, Mejia was named as the teams’ closer. He proved up the to task.

From May 17, when he recorded his first save, until the end of the year, he recorded 28 saves, which was tied for 11th most in the Majors. It is also the 17th highest single-season save total in Mets history. Again, this needs the added context of this being named the closer after a month-and-a-half of the season had passed and while pitching for a sub .500 team.

During that time, Mets fans thought they had the closer of the future, and he would electrify the crowd with what had become known as the “Mejia Stomp” after he converted a save. What should have been the launching point of his career turned into his being a flash in the pan.

On Opening Day of 2015, Mejia injured his elbow warming up to earn a save. He’d land on the DL with elbow inflammation, and he would receive the first of his PED suspensions. In total, he’d only make seven scoreless appearances for the 2015 Mets before being levied with PED suspensions leading to what was then a permanent suspension from baseball. He would be the first such player to serve such a suspension in MLB history.

Despite that, Mejia has performed better than any of the four players who has worn the number 58, and as a result, him and his stomp are the best to ever wear that number in Mets history.

Previous

1.Mookie Wilson
2.Mackey Sasser
3. Curtis Granderson
4. Lenny Dykstra
5. David Wright
6. Wally Backman
7. Jose Reyes
8. Gary Carter

9. Todd Hundley
10. Rey Ordonez
11. Wayne Garrett
12. John Stearns

13. Edgardo Alfonzo
14. Gil Hodges
15. Carlos Beltran

16. Dwight Gooden
17. Keith Hernandez
18. Darryl Strawberry

19. Bob Ojeda
20. Howard Johnson
21. Cleon Jones
22. Al Leiter
23. Bernard Gilkey
24. Art Shamsky

25. Pedro Feliciano
26. Terry Leach
27. Jeurys Familia
28. Daniel Murphy

29. Frank Viola
30. Michael Conforto
31. Mike Piazza

32. Jon Matlack
33. Matt Harvey

34. Noah Syndergaard
35. Rick Reed
36. Jerry Koosman
37. Casey Stengel
38. Skip Lockwood
39. Gary Gentry
40. Bartolo Colon
41. Tom Seaver

42. Ron Taylor
43. R.A. Dickey
44. David Cone
45. Tug McGraw

46. Oliver Perez
47. Jesse Orosco
48. Jacob deGrom
49. Armando Benitez
50. Sid Fernandez
51. Rick White
52. Yoenis Cespedes
53. Chad Bradford
54. T.J. Rivera
55. Orel Hershiser
56. Andres Torres
57. Johan Santana

 

2000 Game Recap: Rick Reed Is Back On Track

Well, after beating the Brewers nine times in a row, the Mets finally lost one to the Brew Crew yesterday. Today, Rick Reed would make sure that was not going to happen again.

The Brewers did get to Reed in the first when Ronnie Belliard homered to lead-off the top of the first. The Brewers wouldn’t get to Reed again until the sixth, but by that point, the Mets had a substantial lead due to a big fourth inning from the Mets offense.

Up until that point, Jason Bere had only allowed a hit to the opposing pitcher, Reed. The second time through the order was a much different situation with Bere as he could not get the first four batters he faced out. Matt Franco and Edgardo Alfonzo singled in front of a Mike Piazza RBI double tying the score 1-1.

After Robin Ventura was intentionally walked, Jay Payton hit a go-ahead sacrifice fly. Then, Kurt Abbott had the big blow with a three run homer increasing the Mets lead to 5-1. That was a huge hit for Abbott. It was almost a week ago his error helped cost the Mets the game. Since that time, he has played sparingly, but this is his second big extra base hit in that time frame.

From there, the game calmed down until the sixth when the Brewers started the sixth with runners on the corners after Geoff Jenkins and Jeromy Burnitz led off the inning with back-to-back singles. Reed was able to stifle that rally by getting Charlie Hayes to hit into a 5-4-3 double play. A run would score on the play, but the Brewers did no more.

The Mets got that run right back. After Reed reached on a Tyler Houston error, Jason Tyner had the somewhat unusual task of sacrificing the pitcher to scoring position. After Franco singled, Alfonzo hit a sacrifice fly to score Reed to increase the Mets lead back to five runs.

In the seventh, it was clear Reed was at the end of the line. Henry Blanco hit a one out double, and he would score on a Belliard two out triple. Reed was able to get out of the inning, and he had a quality start under this belt. After his struggles post injury, he has now posted consecutive 6+ inning starts allowing three runs. This is exactly the pitcher the Mets need him to be.

As they had done in the top of the seventh, the Mets got that run back. This time it was Ventura hitting an eighth inning lead-off homer against Valerio De Los Santos. After that homer, John Franco and Armando Benitez would pitch consecutive scoreless innings to secure the Mets 7-3 victory.

Game Notes: The players wore wristbands in support of pancreatic cancer research, and the homers by Abbott and Ventura led to $50,000 in donations by an independent sponsor. Mike Hamptonthrew a bullpen and seems set to return for his next start. Bobby Jones is set to make another start in Triple-A.

Editor’s Note: With there being no games to begin the season, this site will follow the 2000 season and post recaps as if those games happened in real time. If nothing else, it is better to remember this pennant winning season and revisit some of the overlooked games than it is to dwell on the complete lack of baseball.

Best Mets Of All Time: No. 57 Johan Santana

Mostly due to Nolan Ryan, there have been 12 no-hitters thrown by pitchers after they left the Mets. There have been 10 pitchers to throw no-hitters before coming to the Mets. Hideo Nomo is the one pitcher who threw a no-hitter before and after pitching for the Mets. Through it all, the swinging bunts, the bloop singles, the defensive misplays, everything, there has been just one man who has thrown a no-hitter in a Mets uniform.

Johan Santana.

If he did nothing else in his Mets career, this would have been enough to make Santana the best ever Mets pitcher to wear the number 57. However, his career would prove to be much more than this moment.

Santana originally came to the Mets after the collapse of the 2007 season. Omar Minaya waited out the field, and he eventually got the Twins to accept the trade, and then, he got the Mets to make Santana the highest paid pitcher in the game. It was all designed to prevent another 2007, and really handle the unfinished business from 2006.

It was actually a slow start for Santana in his first season with the Mets, which shouldn’t have been all the surprising as that is what he typically did with the Twins. However, in June, Santana turned it on, and he was phenomenal in a Cy Young worthy season. Somehow, he only finished third in Cy Young voting despite leading the league in ERA, GS, and IP.

However, as we know, with aces it is not just about the win-loss record. It is about stepping up when your team needs it most. That’s exactly what Santana did. Really, he was simply brilliant down the stretch. In the second half, he was 8-0 with a 2.17 ERA and a 1.096 WHIP. People may have wanted to give credit to the managerial switch or something else, but fact, is the biggest driver of the Mets turning it around was Santana being Santana.

That included him demanding the ball on the penultimate game of the season. With the Mets in a position where they could not afford to lose another game, Santana took the mound on three days rest and threw the last great game a Mets pitcher would have at Shea. He shut out the Marlins allowing just three hits while striking out nine. The fact he did this on an injured knee made this start all the more incredible.

That would prove to be the last time the Mets won at Shea, and it would be the last start Santana would make with the Mets being contenders.

Partially due to the injuries setting in, people tend to forget Santana was still a very good pitcher over the ensuing two years, which included his being named an All-Star in 2009. Over the first two years in Citi Field, Santana had a 131 ERA+. As noted, the injuries would mount with him needing surgery on his knee, elbow, and shoulder in successive seasons.

The last surgery to repair a torn anterior capsule in his pitching shoulder cost him all of the 2011 season. Simply put, pitchers really don’t recover from that surgery. Santana somehow did even if it was for a short duration. In his first 11 starts, which includes the famed 134 pitch no-hitter, Santana was 3-2 with a 2.38 ERA and 1.029 WHIP. Essentially, Santana was back, but unfortunately, the wear and tear of pitching every fifth day proved to be too much. His entire career would last just 10 more starts.

Through all of it, Santana had established himself as one of the best starters in Mets history. He has the sixth best ERA+ with the 10th best K/BB. If you take out his 2012 season, he would rank higher in those and other categories, but then again, if you take out that season, you miss the only no-hitter in Mets history. For that no-hitter and all the great things he did in a Mets uniform, Santana is the best Mets player to ever wear the number 57.

Previous

1.Mookie Wilson
2.Mackey Sasser
3. Curtis Granderson
4. Lenny Dykstra
5. David Wright
6. Wally Backman
7. Jose Reyes
8. Gary Carter

9. Todd Hundley
10. Rey Ordonez
11. Wayne Garrett
12. John Stearns

13. Edgardo Alfonzo
14. Gil Hodges
15. Carlos Beltran

16. Dwight Gooden
17. Keith Hernandez
18. Darryl Strawberry

19. Bob Ojeda
20. Howard Johnson
21. Cleon Jones
22. Al Leiter
23. Bernard Gilkey
24. Art Shamsky

25. Pedro Feliciano
26. Terry Leach
27. Jeurys Familia
28. Daniel Murphy

29. Frank Viola
30. Michael Conforto
31. Mike Piazza

32. Jon Matlack
33. Matt Harvey

34. Noah Syndergaard
35. Rick Reed
36. Jerry Koosman
37. Casey Stengel
38. Skip Lockwood
39. Gary Gentry
40. Bartolo Colon
41. Tom Seaver

42. Ron Taylor
43. R.A. Dickey
44. David Cone
45. Tug McGraw

46. Oliver Perez
47. Jesse Orosco
48. Jacob deGrom
49. Armando Benitez
50. Sid Fernandez
51. Rick White
52. Yoenis Cespedes
53. Chad Bradford
54. T.J. Rivera
55. Orel Hershiser
56. Andres Torres

Best Mets Of All Time: No. 56 Andres Torres

In an ill-fated trade with the San Francisco Giants, the Mets had obtained Andres Torres and Ramon Ramirez in exchange for Angel Pagan. In Torres, the Mets got not just the best player in team history to wear the number 56, but also an advocate for ADHD.

Torres had been diagnosed with ADHD, and he spoke at length about its impact on his life and his baseball career. he would go on to do interviews and a documentary about it. That was his significant off the field contributions. On the field, he had a very underappreciated season.

One reason for his season being underappreciated was Torres had dealt with early injuries, and at one point, he was mired in an 0-for-18 streak in the second half. Another reason why it was underappreciated was Pagan went to the Giants, and he had a very good year for a Giants team which won the World Series.

Little did people know at the time, but Torres would have a very good defensive year posting a 4 DRS in center. To put in perspective how good a year that was defensively, since the inception of DRS, only four other Mets have posted a better single-season DRS, a list which includes Gold Glovers Carlos Beltran and Juan Lagares, but surprisingly not Mike Cameron.

At the plate, Torres did not have a particularly strong season with an 88 wRC+. That said, he joined Jose Reyes as the only two Mets players to have multiple games in a season where they hit a homer and a triple. When all was said and done, Torres had amassed a 1.5 WAR which is higher than the other 1o players who wore the uniform with the New York Mets, which is why he’s the best Mets player to ever wear the number.

Previous

1.Mookie Wilson
2.Mackey Sasser
3. Curtis Granderson
4. Lenny Dykstra
5. David Wright
6. Wally Backman
7. Jose Reyes
8. Gary Carter

9. Todd Hundley
10. Rey Ordonez
11. Wayne Garrett
12. John Stearns

13. Edgardo Alfonzo
14. Gil Hodges
15. Carlos Beltran

16. Dwight Gooden
17. Keith Hernandez
18. Darryl Strawberry

19. Bob Ojeda
20. Howard Johnson
21. Cleon Jones
22. Al Leiter
23. Bernard Gilkey
24. Art Shamsky

25. Pedro Feliciano
26. Terry Leach
27. Jeurys Familia
28. Daniel Murphy

29. Frank Viola
30. Michael Conforto
31. Mike Piazza

32. Jon Matlack
33. Matt Harvey

34. Noah Syndergaard
35. Rick Reed
36. Jerry Koosman
37. Casey Stengel
38. Skip Lockwood
39. Gary Gentry
40. Bartolo Colon
41. Tom Seaver

42. Ron Taylor
43. R.A. Dickey
44. David Cone
45. Tug McGraw

46. Oliver Perez
47. Jesse Orosco
48. Jacob deGrom
49. Armando Benitez
50. Sid Fernandez
51. Rick White
52. Yoenis Cespedes
53. Chad Bradford
54. T.J. Rivera
55. Orel Hershiser

 

Best Mets Of All Time: No. 55 Orel Hershiser

Before the 1999 season, Orel Hershiser was reviled by Mets fans. His 1988 NLCS MVP performance is what stood between them and what Mets fans believed was a rightfully the Mets second World Series in three seasons. Instead, Hershiser earned a save in Game 4 while picking the win in a masterful Game 7 performance.

A decade later, the Mets made the somewhat controversial move to sign Hershiser during Spring Training. It turned out to be a great move for the franchise.

It didn’t look like it in the beginning as Hershiser got knocked around in April and May. To make matters worse, the Mets were unperforming leading to Steve Phillips firing three of Bobby Valentine‘s coaches on June 6th. At that point in the season, the Mets were a .500 team after getting it handed to them by the Yankees.

n June 7th, Hershiser got the ball, and he made the first step towards salvaging the Mets season. In that start, Hershiser picked up the win after allowing two earned over six innings. This was part of a terrific stretch where both the Mets and Hershiser turned their seasons around.

From May 21 – June 29, Hershiser was 7-1 with a 2.94 ERA. Over that time frame, the Mets went from firing coaches to 11 games over .500 and in the thick of the postseason races. That’s where the Mets were all season, and as luck would have it, the Mets found themselves tied with the Cincinnati Reds on the final day of the regular season, and the Mets handed the ball to Hershiser.

Hershiser allowed a run in the first before shutting down the Pirates over the next five innings. He would pick up a no decision in a game the Mets eventually won on a wild pitch scoring Melvin Mora in the bottom of the ninth. Despite pitching this big game, the Mets opted to put this battled tested veteran who had a number of huge postseason starts in the bullpen.

In that postseason, Hershiser would make only two appearances. The first was a scoreless inning locking up a Mets victory in Game 3 of the NLDS. The next was a huge relief appearance in Game 5 of the NLCS to help keep the Mets alive in the series.

Up until that Game 5, Hershiser’s big contribution in that series was pointing out to Eddie Coleman and Steve Somers just how much Chipper Jones hated being called by his given”Larry.” With that, Hershiser improbably gave birth to the Larry chants which would fill Shea Stadium for its final days.

In Game 5, the Mets were fighting off elimination. The early 2-0 lead went by the wayside with Masato Yoshii giving up two runs with no outs in the fourth. Hershiser entered the game in an almost impossible situation with runners on first and second with no outs.

He responded by striking out Andruw Jones and Eddie Perez back-to-back before getting Walt Weiss to ground out back to him. Hershiser then followed that up by shutting out the Braves for an additional 2.1 innings. It was those 3.1 scoreless innings which would keep the game and the Mets alive long enough for Robin Ventura‘s Grand Slam single many innings later.

Surprisingly, Hershiser was not done in that series. Despite being a 40 year old starter, he found himself back on the mound two days later in Game 6. He pitched a scoreless seventh before the Mets took the lead in the top of the eighth on a Mora RBI single. In another universe, Hershiser would have gotten the win there, but the Mets would lose that game, and Hershiser’s one year tenure with the Mets was over.

During that year, Hershiser had an eventful season which included him being the starting pitcher for the Mercury Mets and giving Mets fans their favorite jeer. He put together a good year, and he had some postseason glory for the Mets instead of against the Mets in what was a near Hall of Fame career. As he was an integral part of that 1999 team, he is the best Mets player to ever wear the number 55.

Previous

1.Mookie Wilson
2.Mackey Sasser
3. Curtis Granderson
4. Lenny Dykstra
5. David Wright
6. Wally Backman
7. Jose Reyes
8. Gary Carter

9. Todd Hundley
10. Rey Ordonez
11. Wayne Garrett
12. John Stearns

13. Edgardo Alfonzo
14. Gil Hodges
15. Carlos Beltran

16. Dwight Gooden
17. Keith Hernandez
18. Darryl Strawberry

19. Bob Ojeda
20. Howard Johnson
21. Cleon Jones
22. Al Leiter
23. Bernard Gilkey
24. Art Shamsky

25. Pedro Feliciano
26. Terry Leach
27. Jeurys Familia
28. Daniel Murphy

29. Frank Viola
30. Michael Conforto
31. Mike Piazza

32. Jon Matlack
33. Matt Harvey

34. Noah Syndergaard
35. Rick Reed
36. Jerry Koosman
37. Casey Stengel
38. Skip Lockwood
39. Gary Gentry
40. Bartolo Colon
41. Tom Seaver

42. Ron Taylor
43. R.A. Dickey
44. David Cone
45. Tug McGraw

46. Oliver Perez
47. Jesse Orosco
48. Jacob deGrom
49. Armando Benitez
50. Sid Fernandez
51. Rick White
52. Yoenis Cespedes
53. Chad Bradford
54. T.J. Rivera

 

Best Mets Of All Time: No. 54 T.J. Rivera

Baseball is a funny sport. You can have a player sitting there for years eligible for the Rule 5 draft with teams passing over him time and again. As that player sits in the minors, you now have 30 teams who have overlooked how much that player can contribute at the Major League level. Finally, when there are no other options left, that same player can push your team into the postseason.

While that may or may not seem farfetched, that is essentially the story of T.J. Rivera.

After the Mets won the pennant in 2015, the team didn’t take that next step forward as they intended. Part of the reason was the Washington Nationals signed Daniel Murphy, and the Mets had replaced him with Neil Walker. While Walker had played well early in the year, it all fell apart for him as he suffered a season ending back injury.

Really, the Mets were dropping like flies across the infield that season. That also included players like David Wright, Lucas Duda, and Wilmer Flores. As the Mets headed into September, they really didn’t have a second baseman, and they needed one to emerge.

Rivera had a cup of coffee due to these injuries earlier in the season, and he had played well. That included a four hit game against the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Still, he had been sent down, and he wasn’t given the initial or even the second or third crack at the job. Finally, on September 13th, he was inserted into the starting lineup, and Rivera responded by going 3-for-4 with a homer and three RBI in the Mets 10 inning victory against the Nationals. That homer Rivera hit was a game winning homer in the top of the 10th inning.

From there, Rivera was the second baseman as the Mets rode the very hot hand. Over the final month of the season, Rivera hit .358/.378/.552 with two doubles, a triple, three homers, and 13 RBI. With that, Rivera would be in the starting lineup in the Wild Card Game.

To put things into perspective, entering the ninth inning, there were just seven hits total in that game as Noah Syndergaard and Madison Bumgarner were absolutely dominant. Through those first eight innings, Rivera was the only player with an extra base hit. The real shame in that game was no one could score Rivera after his lead-off double in the fifth.

While Rivera did not secure a starting spot on the Mets 2017 roster, he did secure a spot on the Opening Day roster. Due to a number of roster issues, he was shuttled back-and-forth between New York and Las Vegas a bit. That said, when he played, he hit. In his 73 games, he hit .290/.330/.430 with 13 doubles, a triple, five homers, and 27 RBI.

Unfortunately, he was done in late July with an elbow injury which would eventually need Tommy John surgery. When Rivera went on the DL then, it effectively ended his Mets career. Currently, he is fighting to get back to the Majors, which is currently being made difficult by the COVID19 shutdown.

Even though Rivera had a shorter than anticipated Mets career, he was a driving force to getting the Mets to the 2016 postseason. He proved to be a good hitter, and ultimately, that is why is the best of the five Mets to wear the number 54.

Previous

1.Mookie Wilson
2.Mackey Sasser
3. Curtis Granderson
4. Lenny Dykstra
5. David Wright
6. Wally Backman
7. Jose Reyes
8. Gary Carter

9. Todd Hundley
10. Rey Ordonez
11. Wayne Garrett
12. John Stearns

13. Edgardo Alfonzo
14. Gil Hodges
15. Carlos Beltran

16. Dwight Gooden
17. Keith Hernandez
18. Darryl Strawberry

19. Bob Ojeda
20. Howard Johnson
21. Cleon Jones
22. Al Leiter
23. Bernard Gilkey
24. Art Shamsky

25. Pedro Feliciano
26. Terry Leach
27. Jeurys Familia
28. Daniel Murphy

29. Frank Viola
30. Michael Conforto
31. Mike Piazza

32. Jon Matlack
33. Matt Harvey

34. Noah Syndergaard
35. Rick Reed
36. Jerry Koosman
37. Casey Stengel
38. Skip Lockwood
39. Gary Gentry
40. Bartolo Colon
41. Tom Seaver

42. Ron Taylor
43. R.A. Dickey
44. David Cone
45. Tug McGraw

46. Oliver Perez
47. Jesse Orosco
48. Jacob deGrom
49. Armando Benitez
50. Sid Fernandez
51. Rick White
52. Yoenis Cespedes
53. Chad Bradford

 

2000 Game Recap: Mets Beat Cubs And Rain

With Mike Hampton only pitching two innings against the Yankees on Sunday before the game was washed out, the Mets opted to bring back their ace on short rest. After Hampton allowed one run in the first inning on an Mark Grace RBI single, the rains came, and once again, Hampton’s day was done.

This would be the first of three rain delays. To put it in perspective, the actual game play was three hours and 40 minutes, but the rain delays were three hours and 23 minutes. All told, this was an over seven hour day at the ballpark.

While the skies had brought the rain, the Mets lineup had brought the thunder hitting four homers in the game. The first of which was a Robin Ventura homer off of Scott Downs to being the second inning. The Mets bats would then go silent until the fourth. At that point, they were down 2-1 with Augie Ojeda hitting a solo homer off of Pat Mahomes.

In the fourth, there were runners at the corners and one out when Benny Agbayani tied the score on a sacrifice fly. That lead would be very short lived. Even though he was not scheduled to pitch today, with the rain delays, the Mets opted to go with Glendon Rusch to start the fourth. Apparently, he was not quite warmed up enough.

Chad Meyers doubled off of him, and Ojeda walked. Both runners moved up on a Daniel Garibay sacrifice bunt. Myers scored off of a Eric Young Sr. sacrifice fly, and Ojeda scored off of a Joe Girardi RBI single. That gave the Cubs a 4-2 lead.

The second of the Mets four homers came in the fifth as Mike Piazza launched a two run homer tying the game at 4-4. The Mets would double their four runs with a big sixth inning.

The inning began with a Jay Payton double. There would be runners on first and second after Todd Pratt reached on a Grace error. Kurt Abbott, who was the goat yesterday, came up big hitting a go-ahead RBI double. Melvin Mora followed with an RBI double of his own. Piazza capped off that rally with an RBI single increasing the Mets lead to 8-4.

With the way this game was going, it was far from over.

After Agbayani homered in the seventh, the Cubs made a comback in the bottom half of the inning. After a Grace double off of Turk Wendell, there were runners on second and third with one out. Sammy Sosa then scored on a Glenallen Hill RBI single. Wendell was almost out of the inning before issuing a two out walk to Gary Matthews to load the bases.

Dennis Cook came on to relieve Wendell to move the switch hitting Ojeda to the right side. Cook struggled in the seventh as he has done much of the season allowing RBI singles to Ojeda and Willie Greene. After Cook walked Eric Young Sr. to re-load the bases, Bobby Valentine brought in John Franco, who retired Girardi to get the Mets out of the inning with a 9-8 lead.

That led grew to 10-8 when Agbayani hit his second homer of the game in the top of the ninth. That was more than enough of a cushion for Armando Benitez who mowed down the Cubs in the bottom of the ninth earning his 16th save of the season with Rusch earning the win in relief.

This was a very long game which was made even longer by the rain delays. Still, the Mets fought through the sloppiness which accompanies games like this. That makes the flight out of Chicago a little easier than it would have been otherwise.

Game Notes: One of the reasons Hampton left the game was he is dealing with a strained groin. Edgardo Alfonzo was given the day off with a stiff back. The Mets are rumored to be in on Sosa and Juan Gonzalez, but according to rumors, they are not willing to part with top prospects Alex Escobar or Grant Roberts. Bobby Jones went down to Triple-A Norfolk to work on things.

Editor’s Note: With there being no games to begin the season, this site will follow the 2000 season and post recaps as if those games happened in real time. If nothing else, it is better to remember this pennant winning season and revisit some of the overlooked games than it is to dwell on the complete lack of baseball.