After taking the red eye, the Mets offense arrived too late to score any runs against the Padres yesterday. Today was a much different story as the Mets batters were well rested, ready to hit, and were going to take advantage of their opportunities.
The game began with Ken Caminiti throwing the ball away. That allowed Joe McEwing to reach. After a stolen base, he was in scoring position. After Stan Spencer struck out Derek Bell, Edgardo Alfonzo hit an RBI single to give the Mets a 1-0 lead. Of note, Padres starter Spencer has a very slow delivery to the plate. Wile it had allowed McEwing to steal a base with ease, it was not slow enough for Alfonzo, who was caught stealing.
The Padres did not get to Al Leiter until the fourth. Like many rallies, this began with a lead-off walk. After Leiter issued a lead-off walk to Ruben Rivera, Tony Gwynn doubled him home. Gwynn then scored on an Ed Sprague double pulling the Padres to within 3-2.
The Padres would then tie the score in the sixth when Gwynn took advantage of a Leiter mistake by hitting a homer to straight away center. After that homer, Leiter would retired the next six batters. In total, he was good allowing three earned over seven while striking out seven. However, he was not good enough as he took the no decision.
Turk Wendell relieved Leiter, and he’d pitch a scoreless eighth and ninth. He allowed a single in each inning, but he didn’t allow a runner to get into scoring position. With his work, and the work of Padres reliever Donne Wall, this game went into extra innings.
Trevor Hoffman began the 1oth by retiring Jay Payton and Rey Ordonez. Mark Johnson pinch hit for Wendell, and he blooped a single. Seeing the opportunity to win the game, Bobby Valentine went to Mike Piazza to pinch hit for McEwing. Once again, we were reminded Piazza absolutely owns Hoffman as he hit a two run shot to give the Mets a 5-3 lead.
While Armando Benitez would walk Dave Magadan to begin the bottom of the 10th, he would retire the next three Padres he faced to record the save. This was the latest great outing for Benitez. After his four run blow-up against the Marlins, he has not allowed a run in his last seven appearances.
Overall, the Mets rebounded from a tough travel and difficult game. This is the type of win which helps teams avoid losing streaks much like the one they experienced the last time they came out west.
Game Notes: Mets remain undefeated in Leiter starts going 9-0 when he takes the mound. Piazza’s pinch hit homer was the Mets second over the last week.
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.
Believe it or not, the number 29 is tied for the second most chosen uniform among Mets players. Currently, it is worn by Brad Brach, and there has been a player wearing it every year, sometimes multiple players in a year, every year since Alex Trevino and Tom Gorman wore it in 1978.
This is a number which probably should have been synonymous with Ken Singleton, but the Mets traded him far too soon. When you look at the history of the number, three names stand above the rest.
There is Steve Trachsel, who was a human rain delay. He also had some highlights like pitching two one hitters in the 2003 season and being the winning pitcher in the 2006 NL East clincher. He should also be forever commended for being willing to take a demotion to 2001 to figure things out.
There was also Dave Magadan who had a great game himself in the 1986 clincher, and he nearly won the 1990 batting title. He was also in the top 10 in OBP and OPS.
However, when you look at the number 29, there is only one Mets player who was truly great wearing that number – Frank Viola.
In 1989, the Long Island native and St. John’s alum came home to pitch for his hometown New York Mets, the team he rooted for as a child. That 1989 season was a difficult one for him in Minnesota and New York. Entering the 1990 season, he switched his number from 26 and 29, and he was once again the pitcher who was the 1987 World Series MVP.
In 1990, Viola had a great All Star year where he had the second most wins in the National League. In fact, with him winning 20 games that season, he is the last Mets left-handed pitcher to win 20 in a season. The only other Mets pitcher to win 20 in a season since him was R.A. Dickey in his 2012 Cy Young award winning season.
He’d lead the league in starts and innings pitched that season. He’d also have the second highest WAR in the league among pitchers, and he would finish third in the Cy Young voting. He would only trail teammates Dwight Gooden and David Cone in FIP.
Although the win/loss record didn’t show it, Viola backed up his 1990 season with another All-Star campaign in 1991. In making that second All Star Game, Viola joined Jerry Koosman, Jon Matlack, and Sid Fernandez as Mets left-handed starters who have gone to multiple All Star games. Since Viola went to back-to-back All Star Games, no other Mets starting pitcher has accomplished that feat.
In a little over two seasons with the Mets, Viola was 38-32 with a 3.31 ERA with a 110 ERA+ and a 3.26 FIP amassing a 9.8 WAR. In addition to his time spent on the mound, he returned to the Mets as a minor league pitching coach who helped build that 2015 staff. That included his picking up a dejected deGrom by telling him he wanted to be there for deGrom’s Major League debut.
In all, Viola was not with the Mets long as a player, but he did things rarely done in team history, and some of his feats have not been repeated. He was a very good pitcher in his brief Mets tenure, and he has had a profound impact on the franchise both as a pitcher and a pitching coach. All told, that is why he is the choice for the best Mets player to wear the number 29.
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