Amazin’ Ten of 2014: #1 – September 28
The moment has come. After five weeks of counting down the best games of the year that was, we’ve reached the top of the heap. It’s time to reveal the most Amazin’ Mets game of 2014. Fortunately for us, we didn’t have to dig too deep to find it. The top game is also the game most recently etched into our memories.
Sep 27, 2014; New York, NY, USA; New York Mets first baseman Lucas Duda (21) hits a walk off two run home run during the ninth inning to win the game against the Houston Astros at Citi Field. New York Mets won 2-1. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports
#1 – Milestones and Momentum (September 28)
September had been unusually kind in Flushing. After dropping the first of the month in Miami, the Mets won seven of their next eight through September 10. New York then lost four of its next five but got back on track in the best way with a sweep in Atlanta.
The Mets had returned home for their final series of 2014 against their former league rivals, the Houston Astros. The Astros took the first and were one out from taking the second, but Lucas Duda brought the heroics to give New York a stunning win. Now, on a brilliant Sunday afternoon at Citi Field, the boys in orange and blue looked to end their 53rd season on a high note. And just like Pavarotti before them, they nailed it.
In pursuit of his 15th W of the year, Bartolo Colon – making his sixth appearance in our countdown – gave up a leadoff single but induced a Jose Altuve to ground into a double play. In the bottom of the first, Matt den Dekker sliced a leadoff double to right, advancing to third on a groundout and scoring on Daniel Murphy’s sac fly.
Houston knotted it up in the second on doubles by Jon Singleton and Max Stassi, but the Mets jumped out in front again in the bottom of the third. Juan Centeno drew a leadoff walk and went to second on Colon’s bunt. Den Dekker gave his 2015 resume another boost with an RBI single to make it 2-1. Altuve brought the Astros even again in the fifth with an infield single to score Gergorio Petit.
Jun 15, 2014; New York, NY, USA; New York Mets right fielder Bobby Abreu (53) his an rbi double during the first inning against the San Diego Padres at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports
The bottom of the fifth marked the first milestone of the afternoon. With two down and no men on, Bobby Abreu stepped into the batters box for the last time of his illustrious 18-year career. On a 1-2 fastball from Nick Tropeano, Abreu lined a single into left field. His 2,470th career hit became his last, as Abreu was lifted for a pinch runner. With a smile as bright as ever, Bobby was serenaded with a thunderous ovation from 34,897 Mets fans that spent nearly a decade rooting against him in Philadelphia. And as he made his way into the home dugout, he was greeted with a warm hug from Terry Collins, his first manager, from Houston in 1996, and now his last. Bobby Abreu finished his career a .291 hitter with a stellar .395 on-base percentage, 574 doubles, 288 home runs, 1,363 RBIs, and universal respect from the baseball community.
Abreu had one more trick up his sleeve, though: rally-starter. Daniel Murphy drew a walk to send pinch-runner Eric Young to second base. That brought up Lucas Duda, who looked to provide a sequel to his heroics from the previous evening. The Dude hit the mark again, doubling to the right corner to plate both runs. The RBIs were Lucas’s 89th and 90th of the season. He would reach one more milestone a few innings later.
Max Stassi did his part to keep the Astros in it, singling in Jake Marisnick in the top of the sixth. After a visit to the mound, New York elected to keep Colon in to try and clean up the mess. Bartolo responded with a three-pitch strikeout of Petit, and Jonathan Villar flew out to end the threat. Colon made his exit in line for the win, allowing three runs on eight hits, uncharacteristically walking two and striking out four. He finished the season with 202.1 innings pitched, eclipsing the bi-century mark for the first time since 2005. Carlos Torres and Jeurys Familia then combined for a perfect seventh and eighth.
By the bottom of the eighth inning, it was only just about 4:00 p.m. in New York City. The fireworks, however, could be seen from Long Island to Long Beach. Murphy doubled to bring up Duda. Despite a power outage for much of the previous month, Lucas stood just one home run shy of a milestone. This was his last at-bat of the season, and he would not let the moment pass. One swing sent a no-doubter into right center field, and with a triumphant “Ha!” from Keith Hernandez on SNY, Lucas Duda had his 30th home run of 2014. An empty dugout and solo carwash from Murph later, he took a hard-earned curtain call. After ascending to the starting first base role in mid-April, Duda spent the whole season proving he could be a true major-league starter. Home run number 30 was just the icing on the cake.
Jul 30, 2014; New York, NY, USA; New York Mets first baseman Lucas Duda (21) celebrates with second baseman Daniel Murphy (28) after a two-run home run during the eighth inning against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citi Field. New York Mets won 11-2. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports
But the cherry on top came with the Mets’ last runs of the season: after Wilmer Flores belted a ground-rule double, Ruben Tejada added to his own career high with his fifth home run of the season. Tejada’s blast gave the game its final 8-3 margin, and with one final Jenrry Mejia stomp after L.J. Hoes’s flyout to left, the New York Mets were winners in Game 162 for the fourth straight year.
Was there ever a game this year as fun as this one? It was a game that saw Bobby Abreu complete his career in style, that saw Bartolo Colon reach 15 wins, that saw Lucas Duda eclipse 30 home runs and 90 RBIs, and that saw the Mets finish the year not just at 79-83 and in second place in the NL East but at 15-10 in September. It was a win that, coupled with key returns and emergences in the year to come, gave Mets fans every reason to dream of 2015. It was a triumph that prompted Matt Harvey to stroll over to Terry Collins and assure him: “We’re going to do it next year.” With the momentum of the day in hand, who would dare argue?
September 28: the most Amazin’ game of 2014. And with that, we reach the end of our season review. We now stand 112 days from April 6, 2015, when Matt Harvey takes the hill at Nationals Park for a showdown with Stephen Strasburg and the defending division champs. All this Mets fan can say is tick, clock, tick.
Amazin’ Ten of 2014
#10 – DeGrom’s Finale Shuts Down Braves (September 21)
#9 – Duda Dings Dodgers (August 24)
#8 – D’Arnaud’s Return Sparks Thrashing of Kazmir (June 24)
#7 – A Grand(y) Walk-Off (April 25)
#5 – Wheeler’s Beach Party (June 19)
#4 – DeGrom Outduels Peavy (or: “Oh wow!”) [August 2]
#3 – Lagares Silences Doubters for Good (May 17)
#2 – Bartolo Colon, Rally Maker (or: “Let’s watch him run!”) [June 18]