My Top 10 Baseball Games of the 2009 Season
First of all, it’s kind of funny that I call this list my Top 10 games, when the majority of them are Yankee wins and Mets losses. My original plan for this slideshow was to give my Top Five Most Memorable Mets games of the 2009 season. I was going choose five of the 18 games I went to that had the most memorable happenings (i.e. Opening Day, the Castillo drop, etc.).
However, after Friday night’s Yankees game that I was in attendance for, I’ve decided to do my Top 10 Most Memorable Baseball Games of the 2009 season. I was lucky enough to have attended a total of 21 baseball games between Citi Field and Yankee Stadium, and I will share what I believe are my Top 10. I’d love to hear your opinions if you think some are too high or low, or just don’t belong. So without further ado, here we go.
Number 10: Manny comes back to New York after his 50 game suspension
This game had more hype to it then it actually produced. It was Joe Torre and the Dodgers’ first trip to Citi Field, and Manny Ramirez was making his first trip to New York since coming back from his 50 game suspension. Manny received his fair share of boos before each of his four at bats, and there were cheers when he got tossed after striking out in the fifth.
Other than that the game itself was pretty relaxed. Clayton Kershaw (who I had not yet seen pitch), threw six shutout innings, striking out seven, Blake DeWitt hit a pinch-hit home run, and Russell Martin stole a base off of Pelfrey early in the game. It was a good game to watch if you were a Dodgers fan, most notably ESPN’s Dari Nowkhah, who was in attendance in his Dodger gear. My friend was lucky enough to have spotted him hanging out around the Dodger dugout before the game and took a picture with him. I must also add that this was the second time I had ever seen the Mets lose via shutout, and of course the first was earlier in the season.
Number 9: Niese gets hurt but Figueroa saves the day for the Mets with his bat and arm
A friend of mine asked me to go to this game the day before, and I never turn down a Mets game, and with the chance to see Niese redeem himself from the last time I saw him, I decided to go.
Niese only gave up a hit and a walk in his outing, and struck out two, this of course before he got hurt with two outs in the top of the second. After a David Wright error allowed the inning to continue, Niese was covering first on a ground ball and did a split catching the ball, coming off the bag and not recording the out as he did so. Well the Mets had scored two runs in the bottom of the first, so it seemed like Kyle Lohse wouldn’t hold the Mets offense down. So in to pitch for the Mets was Nelson Figueroa.
I had seen Figueroa start against the Brewers earlier this season, throwing a quality start in the loss to Jeff Suppan. Nelson did every Mets fan proud this day too, throwing four and a third innings in relief, only giving up four hits, no walks, and striking out five.
However, that wasn’t the best part of the game. Nelson came up to bat in the bottom of the second, and hit a two-run triple off of Lohse. Figueroa also scored a run in that inning and walked later on in the game. The Mets offense decided to click that day, pounding out fifteen hits, including three doubles, two triples, and two home runs. Pagan had a triple and a home run, and totaled four RBI’s for the day. But we weren’t done yet. Bobby Parnell was brought in to relieve with Nelson Figueroa. Parnell had quite the day, only giving up a hit in three innings pitched, striking out three en-route to his first career save. However again, the Mets pitchers decided to show off the lumber, and Parnell singled for his first career hit, later scoring his first career run. This was certainly a great offensive day for the Mets hitters and pitchers and was a great game to have been at.
Number 8: The first extra innings game at Citi Field and Prado ruins it for the Mets
I had already bought the tickets for this game before the Mets made the sales pitch of skipping work/school to come out to the ballpark, but regardless it looked to be a good game to wrap up the Brave’s first trip to Citi Field. I was going to see Jonathon Niese pitch for the first time since I last saw him in his masterful performance against the Braves the year before.
I was able to get Bobby Parnell’s autograph before the game so I was very excited from the outset. Niese did not pitch very well at all, although neither did Braves starter Jo-Jo Reyes. Jose Reyes had three doubles on the day, Sheffield and Tatis both went deep for the Mets. Chipper Jones continued playing well in New York going 2-3 with two RBI and two runs scored.
Martin Prado’s home run off of Ken Takahashi in the top of the 13th sealed the game for the Braves, as they won the first ever extra inning game in Citi Field. Both teams sent eight pitchers to the rubber in the game as it was an offensively based game, worthy enough of the number eight spot on this list.
Number 7: Burnett shuts down the Mets at Citi Field
By the time this game was played, I was still numb from the Castillo dropped pop-up game. I wasn’t as excited to see the Yankees come into Citi Field as I should’ve been.
There was some hope for history though in the game. Mariano Rivera’s next save was going to be number 500, and A.J. Burnett would be starting for the Yankees, against Tim Redding, so I was hoping that Tim would pitch well enough to keep the Mets close so we’d have a shot at 500.
Burnett was throwing smoke, striking out ten Mets in seven innings, only giving up one hit to Alex Cora. Well Redding was matching Burnett, having only given up one run through five innings, and although he ended up giving up five earned in five and a third innings, he pitched much better than that, but Burnett was pitching too well to see Mo’s 500th save, and the Yankees shut the Mets out for a final score of 5-0.
This was the first time I had ever seen the Mets get shut out, and of course it was at the hands of the Yankees. It was just a great day to be a Yankee fan, and a horrible one to be a Mets fan.
Number 6: Melky’s Walk off vs. the Twins
I was so excited to see this game because I was going to get to see Francisco Liriano pitch live for the first time, and I was going to see Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau play live also for the first time. Alex Rodriquez was also making his first start in the new Yankee Stadium since coming back from injury.
Mauer and Morneau both went deep (Justin twice on his 28th birthday), and Liriano pitched very well, giving up only one earned (a Jeter homer) in six innings, however Joe Nathan failed to close out the Yankees and Melky Cabrera walked off as the Yankees went on to win 5-4.
Denard Span missed a ball off the bat of Brett Gardner, and I got to see Gardner circle the bases for an inside the park home run. A-Rod went 0-1, and walked four times, Gardner who filled in for Johnny Damon who was ejected early on, got three hits including the home run and a triple, and although the game didn’t end as I would’ve liked (or how all of Minnesota would’ve liked), it was a very exciting game. And as you can see by the picture, Donald Trump was in the stands for the game, right behind the Yankees dugout.
Number 5: Tatis’ Grand Slam vs. the Rockies
So far I’ve gone through five games, and only one of them was a Mets win. If that doesn’t go to show how tough a year it has been for the Mets, then I don’t know what else could. Well this game at least is going to be a victory for the Mets, and it took some late inning heroics from Fernando Tatis to secure it.
I was able to purchase ten tickets for this game, and was able to bring many of my friends to Citi Field for the first time, so I was praying they would see a win as obviously the Mets did not win on Opening Day. The pitching matchup certainly favored the Rockies, who were sending hard-throwing Ubaldo Jimenez to the mound to face off with Oliver Perez.
Jimenez was nothing short of spectacular, going seven innings, giving up three earned runs, although only striking out four. Perez was himself, showing signs of greatness by striking out five in his five innings, and showing his horrendous side by giving up two home runs and walking four. Well in the bottom of the eighth inning, with the Mets tied with the Rockies at three, Jerry Manuel sent up Fernando Tatis up to pinch hit for Corey Sullivan, and everyone in the park was up on their feet. The offering from Franklin Morales to Tatis went up and out, and the Citi Field crowd erupted into applause for Fernando as he circled the bases having given the Mets a 7-3 lead. Although not a walk off, the fact that the home run was in the bottom of the eight inning, in a game in which the Mets had been battling back the entire game, it was the Mets’ first lead of the night and with K-Rod coming in the ninth, the door was shut, and the Mets pulled off a big win against a tough Rockies team.
Number 4: Bruntlett ends the rally and game by himself
Originally when I saw the Mets schedule in February, I said I wanted to go to this game because the Mets and Phillies would be battling for the division, plus the give away was going to be a Citi Field Replica. As we got closer to the August 23rd game, the pitching matchup was going to feature Pedro coming back to New York to pitch against Oliver Perez.
The game was awesome. The top of the first saw Perez give up two three-run home runs, and then fall behind Pedro 3-0 before Jerry lifted Perez. By this point in the season, the Mets were pretty well out of the race, so the majority of Mets fans who went just wanted to see Pedro pitch.
Shane Victorino didn’t help out Pedro as he decided to not pick up Angel Pagan’s fly ball allowing him to get an inside the park home run. And then in the next inning Pagan decided to make it less exciting by just hitting it out of the park.
Going into the ninth, Brad Lidge was coming in to close out the Mets, and with some fielding blunders, the Mets were in great shape to make the comeback with runners on first and second and nobody out, with the hot hitting Jeff Francoeur coming. I’m still not really sure why Manuel called a hit and run, but Francoeur hit that ball as hard as possible, however Eric Bruntlett coming over to cover second was able to make the catch of the line drive, step on second to eliminate Castillo who had already been around third by that point, and then tagged out the befuddled Daniel Murphy to complete the unassisted triple play to end the game. All I could do was laugh, because this was just the way the Mets season had been going. Regardless, it was a great all around game, and for it to end the way it did was just fantastic.
Number 3: Friday Night’s Yankee Playoff Game
For those of you who did not happen to catch my last article on the game (http://bleacherreport.com/articles/269936-the-mets-fan-view-of-this-yankee-win-vs-joe-nathan-the-devastation), it was a fantastic game for any baseball fan. Obviously I would’ve liked to see the Twins pull the upset in Yankee Stadium, however in terms of a playoff game, it was certainly a great game and well deserving of the number three spot.
Number 2: Castillo’s Drop
The reason for this game not being number one is not so much what occurred in this game, but simply because of the historical significance of number one.
We all remember how Castillo dropped that routine pop-up from A-Rod and how Mark Teixeira actually ran the bases like he was supposed to and scored the winning run. What some of us might forget is how the Mets scored the go ahead run off Rivera who was brought into a tied ballgame, or how Joba Chamberlin seemed to have walked everyone, how the Yankees hit three home runs off of Mets starter Livan Hernandez, and then Hideki Matsui (on his thirtieth birthday) hit a three-run blast off of Jon Switzer to put the Yankees ahead. It was a fantastic game for both teams; however that crushing defeat will without doubt sit with me for the rest of my life.
Number 1: Opening Day at Citi Field
I don’t see how any other game could be ranked higher than the first ever opening day in Citi Field history. When the Mets first announced that they were going to have a new stadium, I told all of my friends and family that I would go to that game, and I did. The Citi Field crowd erupted into cheers after Wright’s game tying three-run home run, only to be silenced in the next inning when Feliciano balked in the go ahead run for the Padres. Regardless, the pregame sights of Mike Piazza and Tom Seaver, all of the firsts during the night, without doubt made this my most memorable game of the 2009 season.
***For those of you who did not see my slideshow on Opening Day and thus have not seen this picture, this is Mike Pelfrey's third pitch of the ball game, which landed in the right field stands***