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New York Mets Most Memorable Highlights of the Season's First Half

Jon KrounerContributor IIOctober 9, 2016

New York Mets Most Memorable Highlights of the Season's First Half

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    Through the first half of the season, the New York Mets find themselves in a familiar position.

    With a 35-46 record, the Mets are headed towards their fifth-straight losing season dating back to 2009. The Mets also appear in line for their fourth consecutive fourth-place finish in the National League East.

    New York is just three games behind the Phillies and could make a run at third place, but that’s hardly a consolation prize for failing to produce a contender for half of a decade.

    Despite their struggles, the Mets have not been without their share of intrigue and exciting moments through 81 games.

    The sagas concerning Ike Davis and Jordany Valdespin made the Mets feel more like a soap opera than a baseball team. 

    Meanwhile, Matt Harvey's success and Zack Wheeler's big-league arrival have given Mets' fans hope for the future. 

    The Mets have been awful at home, but seven of their 17 wins at Citi Field have come via walk-off.

    There's certainly been more downs than ups, but here’s the Mets’ top five highlights from the first half of the season.

Honorable Mention: David Wright's Four Extra-Base Hits

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    The list wouldn’t be complete without a mention of David Wright.

    Wright has been a model of consistency since signing an eight-year, $138 million extension this past offseason. Through 81 games, Wright is hitting .308 in 302 at-bats. After a slow start from a power standpoint, Wright has clubbed 10 home runs since the beginning of May.

    The highlight of Wright’s season came when he tallied four extra-base hits—two doubles, a triple and a home run—in New York’s 8-0 win over the Phillies on June 23. Wright became the first Met with four extra-base hits in one game since Edgardo Alfonzo did it in August of 1999.

    The face of the franchise is a strong favorite to start at third base in the All-Star Game at Citi Field on July 16. He’s also the captain of the National League Home Run Derby team.

    The Mets aren’t going anywhere, but it’s good to be their captain.

5. Mike Baxter's Walk-Offs

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    Before being sent to the minors, Mike Baxter provided a couple of thrills for the Flushing faithful. In the span of three days in early May, Baxter twice delivered pinch-hit, walk-off hits for the Mets.

    The first came on a night when Matt Harvey allowed just one hit in nine innings pitched against theWhite Sox. Unfortunately, the Mets couldn’t get their ace a run, and Harvey took one of the toughest no-decisions imaginable.

    The Mets were able to salvage the game, however.

    In the 10th inning, pinch-hitter Mike Baxter ripped a line drive to right field to score Ike Davis from second base. The Mets won 1-0.

    Two nights later against the Pirates, Baxter’s number was called again with the game knotted at two in the bottom of the ninth. Baxter hit a single up the middle to score Marlon Byrd from second base and give the Mets a thrilling 3-2 win.

4. Jordany Valdespin's Walk-off Grand Slam

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    Jordany Valdespin has made headlines for the wrong reasons this season.

    In May, Valdespin showboated after hitting a meaningless home run in the ninth inning of a 7-2 loss to the Pirates. The next day, Valdespin wore a fastball.

    To make matters worse, his teammates barely came to his defense, which called into question the leadership of manager Terry Collins. The incident also led to an unfortunate rant from Collins during aninterview with WFAN’s Mike Francesa.

    It’s a sad state of affairs when a utility-infielder hitting .191/.261/.331 is the most polarizing player on the club.

    Despite all of his troubles, Valdespin did provide the Mets with one great moment this season. On April 24, Valdespin hit a walk-off grand slam in the bottom of the 10th inning to give the Mets a 7-3 win over the Dodgers.

    It was New York’s first walk-off grand slam since Kevin McReynolds hit one on June 25, 1991. Of course, that's not including Robin Ventura's famous grand slam single from the 1999 NLCS.

3. Zack Wheeler's Debut

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    Wheeler has struggled since making his major league debut, but for one day, Mets’ fans got a glimpse of what the future may hold.

    On June 19, the Mets swept a split doubleheader from the Atlanta Braves at Turner Field. Not to be overshadowed, Matt Harvey flirted with a no-hitter before leading the Mets to a 4-3 win in the matinee.

    The stage was set for Wheeler to make his much-anticipated debut in the nightcap. To add to the pressure, Wheeler was performing in front of friends and family having grown up just outside Atlanta.

    But, it couldn't have gone much better for Wheeler in his first career start. He held the Braves scoreless through six innings, allowing just five hits to earn his first major league win.

    Wheeler surrendered five walks and struggled with his command but struck out seven batters to flash the promise that he’s shown since being acquired in 2011.

    Wheeler has suffered two straight sub-par performances since making his first start in Atlanta, but still represents an essential piece of the Mets’ pitching staff for years to come.

2. Matt Harvey's Near-Perfect Game

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    Each time Matt Harvey takes the mound, Mets’ fans know they could be witnessing history. That’s why every fifth day is celebrated as #HarveyDay.

    Three times this season Harvey has carried a no-hitter into the seventh inning and three times Harvey has failed to get the final nine outs.

    On May 7, Harvey flirted with a perfect game against the White Sox at Citi Field.

    New York’s ace held Chicago without a baserunner until Alex Rios reached on a single with two outs in the seventh inning. That’s the only baserunner Harvey would allow in nine innings pitched.

    The 24-year-old right-hander tallied a career-high 12 strikeouts in his nearly flawless performance. Harvey’s game score of 97 is the second-best pitching performance of the season behind Shelby Miller’s one-hit shutout against the Rockies.

    Harvey is the only pitcher in this year’s top 10 in game scores to fail to get a win as the Mets couldn’t muster a run until the 10th inning.

    The Mets won 1-0 on Mike Baxter’s walk-off single, but Harvey was the story. His performance against Chicago cemented his status as one of the best young pitchers in baseball.

1. Subway Series Sweep

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    The highlight of the Mets' first half and likely the entire 2013 season was a four-game sweep of the Yankees in the Subway Series.

    Due to a scheduling change this season, the crosstown rivals played their annual home-and-home series over the course of four days with two games apiece in Queens and the Bronx. 

    The most memorable moment of the series came in the second game at Citi Field when the Mets rallied in the ninth inning against Yankees' closer Mariano Rivera. 

    Down 1-0 entering the ninth, the Mets scored two runs on three straight hits, culminating with Lucas Duda's single to drive in David Wright, to pull off the comeback win 2-1. It marked the first time in Rivera's 19-year career that he'd blown a save without registering an out. 

    The Mets won the following two games Yankee Stadium without trailing in either contest. 

    In fact, the Mets swept a season series from the Yankees for the first time since the advent of interleague play in 1997. 

    In typical Mets' fashion, New York followed their triumph over the Yankees by enduring a three-game sweep at the hands of the lowly Miami Marlins.

    Even so, the Mets four straight wins over the Yankees marked a high point of the season's first 81 games. 

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