It has now been 7,704 games for the New York Mets without a no-hitter, but Jonathon Niese came as close as any other Met in history on Thursday when he threw just the 24th one-hitter in club history.
It got me thinking about where his pitching performance should rank in regular season Mets history.
There are some that stand out right off the top of your top: David Cone's 19-strikeout game in 1991, Tom Seaver's one-hit masterpiece against the Phillies in '70, and Al Jackson's remarkable 15-inning complete game loss in the first year of the franchise.
Here's 10 of the best, including Niese's performance last night against the San Diego Padres.
10. Jerry Koosman, 1969
On May 28, Koosman pitched the game of his career, a 15-strikeout four-hitter over 10 scoreless innings.
Koosman left the game ahead of the 11th inning, when the Mets' Bud Harrelson singled home Cleon Jones for a walk-off victory at Shea Stadium.
Tug McGraw, who worked around a pair of walks in the top of the 11th inning, picked up the win.
9. Al Jackson, 1962
The Mets were 56 games below .500 in their first season in the league, and Jackson, who had a 6-14 record going into the contest with Philadelphia, just couldn't get any luck from the hapless Mets.
He threw 172 pitches in a 15-inning complete game, allowing two earned runs. He lost the game and the Mets fell to 30-87.
Jackson was by no means perfect, surrendering six hits and five walks. But still, you have to feel for him that the offense couldn't push across more than one run.
8.Tom Seaver, 1974
It's not often that you pitch 12 innings of one-ran ball and LOSE the game, but that's exactly what happened to Seaver in a May 1 game against the Dodgers in 1974.
Seaver allowed one run on three hits through 12 breathtaking innings of work, only to pick up a no decision for his efforts. The only real blight on his day was a fifth inning home run to first baseman Steve Garvey. He left the game tied at 1-1, but Harry Parker gave up a walkoff bases loaded single to Garvey to end the game. Incidentally, Bill Buckner, yes <i>that</> Bill Buckner, scored the winning run after drawing a one-out walk in the bottom of the 14th.
7. Rob Gardner, 1965
Back in the day when pitch counts were unheard of, Gardner threw 15 innings of shutoff baseball in a game that eventually got called off tied at 0-0 at the end of the 18th frame.
Gardner faced 53 batters and only allowed five hits—four singles and a double—but received a no decision. He was matched pitch for pitch by Philadelphia's Chris Short, who also went 15 innings, striking out 18 Mets. He allowed a dozen base runners, but the Mets stranded 12 men, going 1-for-10 with runners in scoring position.
6. Tom Glavine, 2004
Glavine turned in one the greatest Mets' pitching performances in the last decade on May 23, 2004, when he threw a one-hitter against the Colorado Rockies.
His complete game shutout featured eight strikeouts and one walk over 113 pitches of pure brilliance. His no-hitter came to an end on Kit Pellow's two-out double in the top of the eighth.
5. Tom Seaver, 1970
Seaver cemented his position in Mets folklore when he helped New York to their first World Series the previous year, but he had one of his best ever games on April 22, 1970.
Seaver allowed one run (a solo home run) on two hits in a complete game against San Diego, but what made this game so special was his 19 strikeouts. After retiring Gaston on a fly ball for the second out of the sixth inning, Seaver struck out the final 10 batters of the game.
4. Tom Seaver, 1970
It must be something about playing the Phillies, because three of the top 10 performances came against the rivals from the City of Brotherly Love.
Seaver shut out the Phils 4-0 on May 15 to improve to 7-1 and, much like Niese, was one third-inning hit away from a no-hitter.
Seaver struck out 15 Phillies on the day, walking three and allowing just a single to catcher Mike Compton.
3. Jonathon Niese, 2010
Niese was magical in the second game of Thursday's doubleheader at Citi Field; there's no other way to describe it.
He threw 76 of his 108 pitches for strikes, and after giving up a leadoff third inning double to Chris Denorfia, he retired the next 21 batters he faced. It is the third longest consecutive streak of outs in Mets history, and in terms of the final stat line it's as close to perfection as Seaver was some four decades ago. There's a big difference between what Seaver did and what Niese acomplished, but don't think this start wasn't anything short of brilliant.
Just hours after the Padres retired 22 consecutive Mets, Niese—in his 10th start of 2010—responded in kind by shutting down the Padres in one of the finest pitching performances you'll see this year.
2. David Cone, 1991
This is the single greatest nine-inning performance in Mets history. In an early October game 19 years ago, Cone dominated the Phillies to the tune of a 19-strikeout masterpiece.
He allowed just three base hits over 141 pitches, leading the Mets to a 7-0 shutout at Veterans Stadium. Every position player struck out at least once, and six of the eight struck out on multiple occasions. Cone struck out three batters in an inning in the first, second, fourth, and sixth innings.
1. Tom Seaver, 1969
This was as close to perfection as the Mets have ever known. On July 9, 1969, Seaver allowed only one baserunner all day in a clinical dissection of the Cubs at Shea Stadium.
After retiring the first 25 batters he faced, Seaver surrendered a one-out single to left-centerfield to No. 8 hitter Jim Qualls, a centerfielder who played just 63 games in the Major Leagues and who had just 31 hits in his three part seasons.
Seaver, with his 11 strikeouts, was masterful, but he fell one pitch away from perfection. Still, it's the closest the Mets have came to breaking the streak and it's the best pitching performance in the history of the Amazin's.