With 2012 winding down fast, it’s time to bid adieu to the year that was by looking back on some of its best Mets games. …Yes, there were some good ones in 2012, thank you very much. In fact, there were enough good games for us go full-on Letterman and give you a Top Ten List. So for the next five weeks, I’ll bring you the Amazin’ Ten of 2012: the best New York Mets games from their 50th anniversary season.
#10 – Slugfest at Wrigley (June 27)
Coming into the day the Mets were in the middle of a “chicken hangover,” dropping four straight to the Yankees and Cubs after Frank Francisco’s infamous comments (at least now we know how the Red Sox felt last September). After scoring four runs over their first two losses at Wrigley Field, the team’s bats caught a plane to Chicago in time for the finale, and Terry’s boys were ready to break out.
New York got its first run innocently enough without the benefit of a hit: Andres Torres led off the game with a walk, stole second, went to third on Ruben Tejada’s groundout, and came home on David Wright’s sac fly. The team got its first hit in the 2nd on Daniel Murphy’s 19th double of the season, but nothing would come of it (rare to say about Murph on this day). The Cubs tied it in the bottom of the 2nd on Luis Valbuena’s double off Jon Niese, and it looked like Chicago was back in position to sweep the out-of-towners. It wouldn’t last.
The Mets started to get to Jeff Samardzija in the 4th: after Wright’s lineout, Lucas Duda walked, and Ike Davis drove him in on a hard double to right. Scott Hairston flied out, but Daniel Murphy wasn’t satisfied with just one run in the frame. The previously-homerless Murph took advantage of Wrigley’s world-famous wind patterns and punched a ticket for his first round-tripper of the season. The ball landed just about the second row of the right-center bleachers, but this was no long distance competition: they all count the same. 4-1 Mets. And they were just getting started.
In the 5th, Niese did some good at the plate by drawing a leadoff walk. After Torres popped out, Tejada launched a double to center, advancing Niese to third. A single would’ve brought them home, but David Wright saw your single and raised you double. Duda walked, bringing up Ike Davis, who got in on the long-ball action with a three-run blast of his own. Two batters later, Murphy had so much fun on his first trip to the grandstands that he got himself a frequent flyer miles card and took a solo trip to center. Murphy’s second homer of the game, and season, capped a six-run 5th to give New York an insurmountable 10-1 lead. But as the late, great Billy Mays would have said, “But WAIT, there’s MORE!”
Niese led off the 6th in similar fashion to the 5th: this time an eight-pitch walk instead of six. Back-to-back singles by Torres and Tejada loaded the bases for Wright, who called on single this time to drive home two. Duda’s walk and Davis’s strikeout set up Hairston to get in on the action, and he obliged by making a grand souvenir out of Casey Coleman’s first-pitch fastball. The team that had not so long ago gone 299 games between grand slams had just completed the rare and illustrious home run cycle to cap a second straight six-run inning. Murphy’s afterthought RBI groundout in the 8th was an afterthought compared to what happened innings earlier, but he did provide the final margin in a 17-1 laugher.
The W put the Mets back on the map in a time when they were still dark horse contenders for a playoff berth. New York improved to 40-36, just 4.5 back in the NL East and a game out of the Wild Card hunt. The slugfest at Wrigley put enough wind in the team’s sails to propel them to three straight wins at Dodger Stadium to close out June, capped by Johan Santana’s last good start of 2011.
June 27: the 10th most Amazin’ game of 2012. Check back this weekend for the #9 entry, and keep coming back to see the list take shape over the next five weeks.
Amazin’ Ten of 2012
#10 – Slugfest at Wrigley (June 27)