Just after 1:45 a.m. ET this morning, the New York Mets wrapped up a 5-4 extra innings win over the San Diego Padres on the west coast. Despite Bobby Parnell giving away a 4-3 lead in the 8th inning, Scott Hairston drove in the go ahead run in the 10th allowing Jason Isringhausen to make history. The 38-year-old pitcher secured the final three outs and became the 23rd closer in Major League history to pick up 300 saves.
Isringhausen joins John Franco and Billy Wagner as the other Mets' relievers on the 300 save list. What makes Isringhausen's achievement so special is the fact that he almost gave up on baseball two years ago due to ongoing injuries in his pitching arm. Also notable is the fact that Isringhausen has come full circle with the Mets. On July 6th, 1999, Isringhausen notched his first career save over the Montreal Expos as a member of the New York Mets.
Once a part of the Mets' so-called "Generation K", along with pitchers Bill Pulsipher and Paul Wilson, Isringhausen began his Mets career in 1995 as highly regarded starting pitcher. Despite his promise, Isringhausen was prone to injuries and eventually was traded to the Oakland Athletics in 1999 where he began to establish himself as a solid reliever.
It was with the St. Louis Cardinals where Isringhausen achieved his greatest success. He became the Cardinal's closer and was part of four Central Division-winning teams as well as the 2006 World Series champions that defeated the Mets in the NLCS. Isringhausen recorded save number 100 in 2002 and his 200th save in 2005.
From 2006 to 2008, Isringhausen battled hip and elbow injuries which led to him leaving the Cardinals. A 2009 comeback try with Tampa Bay lasted nine games before a torn ligament caused him to miss the rest of the season. Tommy John surgery followed and Isringhausen sat out the entire 2010 season.
With few expectations, Isringhausen was invited to spring training with the Mets, signing a minor league contract. He had a good spring and was added to the team's Major League roster in April. After being used primarily as an eighth inning setup man for Francisco Rodriguez, Isringhausen was moved in to the closer role last month after K-Rod was traded to Milwaukee.
Now 38, Isringhausen has made 668 Major League pitching appearances with a career ERA of 3.59. In recording his 300th save, he becomes the fourth-oldest pitcher to have done so.
In a season where Mets fans have not had a lot to cheer about, seeing an original Met achieve a baseball milestone back in Mets colors is truly a feel-good story.