The 2013 New York Mets season ended not with a bang but with a whimper. A Matt Harvey elbow-induced whimper, but a whimper nonetheless. Still, 2013 had its fair share of great moments – many of them were also Matt Harvey-induced, but many were from ordinary role players performing above and beyond expectations. To honor their achievements, we’re going to once again go full-on Letterman and give you a Top Ten list. For the next five weeks, I’ll bring you the Amazin’ Ten of 2013: the best Mets games from the year Citi Field hosted the All-Star Game.
#10 – Hot O in the Cold TC (April 12)
After a quick 5-2 start, the Mets dropped two midweek contests in Philadelphia on the way out West. Over the next week and a half, Terry Collins and company would experience a freezing hell in Minneapolis and Denver, but they started out that mountain swing riding a white-hot Buck. John Buck, that is.
Buck came into that game with five home runs and 15 RBIs in the first nine games of the year, including three straight in the Phillies series, and was looking for more on this Friday night affair at Target Field. It didn’t take long for John’s teammates to siphon off some of his momentum for themselves in the top of the first against ex-NL East foe Vance Worley, the Twins’ Opening Day starter in 2013. (We’ll take a moment for you to laugh about Vance Worley being an Opening Day starter…good now? Good. Back to the action.)
A face-masked Jordany Valdespin started things off with a bloop single to left center, then Daniel Murphy doubled them to second and third. David Wright came up next and sliced a double through the foggy Minnesota air, plating both Valdespin and Murphy for a quick 2-0 lead. After Ike Davis walked, Buck laced a groundball that third baseman Trevor Plouffe couldn’t handle, bringing home another run. Two batters later, Marlon Byrd made himself the Word with a two-run single, and the Mets had a 5-0 lead for Jonathon Niese before he even through a pitch.
Niese allowed a couple runs in the bottom of the first, but New York more than made up for it in the top of the second. Valdespin, Murphy, and Wright all hit singles to start the frame, making it 6-0 visitors. Then after Davis’s second walk, which loaded the bases and chased Worley, John Buck said hello to Pedro Hernandez with a towering shot that, had it not settled in the second deck, might have made it all the way to Duluth. The grand slam made it 10-2 Mets and all but assured the victory.
Not that it stopped New York from adding insurance runs. Niese allowed three more runs (two earned) in the bottom of the fifth as the Twins cut the lead in half, but in the top of the seventh the Mets iced it (as any more icy as it could get in Minnesota in April). Lucas Duda led off with a walk, then after Byrd’s foulout, Mike Baxter got on when shortstop Pedro Florimon missed a potential double play ball. Ruben Tejada flew out and Valdespin walked to bring up Murphy, who saw Buck’s RBI total for the day and said, “Hey, I can match that!” Murph clobbered a bases-clearing double off the wall in right center, near the Twins’ 2014 All-Star Game logo, to make it 13-5 Good Guys. Wright’s triple three pitches later tacked on the extra point.
Baxter and Tejada singled and doubled to lead off the ninth, and Valdespin’s RBI groundout gave New York one more insurance run. That brought up Murphy, who fell short of his first five-hit game but brought the last run home.
When New Yorkers opened up the papers the next morning (literally and figuratively), they may have thought they were seeing a low-scoring Giants (or Jets, if you’re so inclined) win over the Vikings, but what they saw instead was a 16-5 Mets blowout over the Twins. If this were the Rangers/Islanders over the Wild, New York would have had all Three Stars of the game, as Daniel Murphy, David Wright, and John Buck each accounted for four RBIs. Murphy matched his career high with four hits (including two doubles), and Wright finished a home run away from the cycle.
The Mets clinched the series the next day behind Matt Harvey’s first no-hit bid of the season, but New York’s hot streak ran into a beyond-Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out over the next week: that Sunday and Monday were snowed out, and the team dropped a chilly April 16 doubleheader in Colorado, only to be snowed out the next day and drop the then-finale on the 18th. New York would get back on track at home the next Friday in a game that may or may not show up on our list in the future.
April 12: the 10th most Amazin’ game of 2013. Check back on Friday for Amazin’ game #9, and keep coming back for the next five weeks to see the list take shape.
Amazin’ Ten of 2013
#10 – Hot O in the Cold TC (April 12)