By: Joe Messineo

The Top 10 Mets Pitching Performances Of All Time, Numbers 1-5

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As far as single-game performances go, the Mets have had some positively historic pitching performances – including one night three years ago when a left-hander ended a far-too-long franchise drought. Earlier, we looked at at numbers ten through six on that historic list. Here are the top five Mets pitching performances.

5. Cone strikes out 19 Phils, 10/6/91

For two teams out of contention, it was a meaningless end-of-the-regular season affair. But don’t tell that to David Cone. Cone’s signature performance as a Met came on the last day of the 1991 season. Known early in his career for his strikeout ability, the right-hander lived up to that billing at Veterans Stadium. Cone fanned the side in the first, second and fourth innings. After six innings, Cone’s strikeout total had reached 15. To that point had given up just one walk and two hits. With his club comfortably up 7-0, Cone was able to go for the record books in the ninth. He promptly recorded Ks of Kim Batiste and Mickey Morandini, to give him a share of the Mets’ club record. A ground-rule double and a game-ending groundout prevented him from notching No. 20.

4. Matlack shuts down Big Red Machine, 10/7/73

The Mets’ backs weren’t exactly against the wall, but it could have constituted as a “must-win” game – especially considering the opponent. A lineup featuring Hall of Famers Pete Rose, Joe Morgan, Tony Perez and Johnny Bench was as imposing as any during the 1970s. But it was imperative for this group to be held in check in Game 2 of the NLCS at Riverfront Stadium – quite the tall task for young Jon Matlack. A day after Tom Seaver suffered a tough-luck loss in the opener, Matlack followed with a two-hit shutout as New York prevailed, 4-0. The lone Red safeties came from Andy Kosco. As for the powerful middle of the order, the quartet of Rose, Morgan, Perez and Bench was a combined 0-for-16. It proved to be a vital win, as the Mets went on to win the pennant in five games.

3. Seaver fans last ten Padres to reach 19 Ks, 4/22/70

Of all the great pitchers in Mets history, there’s no doubt about who’s the greatest overall. Tom Seaver won 311 games during a Hall of Fame career – most in the orange and blue. It’s hard to say which was his best in New York, but it’s far easier to determine which one had the most impressive finish. The light-hitting San Diego Padres proved no match for “The Franchise.” A home run from Al Ferrara and a single by Dave Campbell were the only dings against the otherwise invincible Seaver. And as dominant as he was over the first 5.2 innings, he was historically great over the final 3.1 frames. By striking out each of the final ten San Diego batters, Seaver totaled 19 for the contest. At the time, 19 strikeouts matched a big league record. The ten straight strikeouts, however, is a record which stands to this day.  

2. “Tom Terrific” nearly perfect, 7/9/69

The dawning “Miracle Mets” was just in its infancy. And Seaver was the lead miracle worker.

New York was posing a serious threat to the Chicago Cubs in the National League East race, something thought unheard of at season’s start. Tom made his young team’s presence loud and clear with a performance that was just a touch short of perfection. Seaver retired the first 25 Cubs he faced, bringing him just two short of immortality. But while this Mets pitcher was on his way to reaching legendary status, his hopes of being a rare part of history was ruined by an unknown. Chicago center fielder Jimmy Qualls, just 11 hits to date, got No. 12 at a most inopportune time for Seaver and Met fans on an otherwise immaculate evening of pitching.

1. No-Han Santana, 6/1/2012

Seaver, Nolan Ryan, Dwight Gooden, David Cone – all highly-recognized names who once pitched for the Mets, but recorded at least one no-hitter for other franchises. Until June 1, 2012, that was a painful reminder in Flushing, because the Mets – despite the wealth of pitching talent over their first 50 years – were one of two franchises without a no-no. But a Friday night performance by a former Cy Young winner at Citi Field changed all that.

Johan Santana battled arm trouble for nearly his entire time in a Met uniform, but found the magic for nine innings against the St. Louis Cardinals. This didn’t come without a touch of good fortune. Former Met Carlos Beltran appeared to have a hit down the left-field line in the sixth inning, but it was called foul (thankfully, replay wasn’t in place yet). Despite five walks and a pitch count that surpassed 130, Santana hung tough – and got David Freese swinging for a dramatic finish. It may not have been a miracle, but for Mets fans, it was just as memorable.

 

About Joe Messineo

Joe is a co-founder of Rukkus, a web & mobile marketplace for sports tickets. As a former Division I pitcher, he has a deep love for sports and a passion for writing.

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