New York Mets: Top 10 Games of the 2011 Season
In terms of wins and losses, this was not a good season for the New York Mets. The team finished at 77-85 and in fourth place in the NL East. Despite this, I feel like this was a step in the right direction for the organization. Sandy Alderson and Terry Collins have changed the culture and the attitude surrounding the team.
With Jose Reyes' impending free agency, this offseason will surely be a busy one for Sandy Alderson. But there will be plenty of time to talk about that. For now, we can look back on the few bright spots from this year.
Here are the top 10 games of the 2011 season.
10. May 13: Mets 6, Astros 4
This may seem like ages ago, but this was the first really exciting win for the Mets.
The Astros led the game 4-0 heading into the seventh. It was 4-1 heading in to the eighth inning when Fernando Martinez (remember him?) blasted a long two-run home run to right field. Just a couple batters later, David Wright connected on a go-ahead two-run shot to left field. The Mets added an insurance run in the top of the ninth, before closing out the game in the bottom half.
9. June 28: Mets 14, Tigers 3
Before this game, the Mets had gone 299 consecutive games without hitting a grand slam. That streak ended in the fourth inning of this game when Jason Bay capped off a seven-run inning with a grand slam to left field. How long would the Mets have to wait for their next one?
Carlos Beltran hit a grand slam of his own in the fifth. The Mets went on to win the game 14-3. That was the most runs the Mets won a game by this season.
8. September 9: Cubs 4, Mets 5
The Mets came away with a walk-off victory against the Cubs after a disappointing top of the ninth. Manny Acosta surrendered an RBI single to the pesky Darwin Barney with two outs to tie the game.
In the bottom half of the inning, Justin Turner came up with two on and two out, and cracked a ground-rule double to center field. Then he had a little bit of fun with Kevin Burkhardt in the postgame interview.
Turner quietly had a pretty good all-around season. He's a very patient hitter who doesn't chase many bad pitches. He finished with 30 doubles in 116 games.
7. July 20: Cardinals 5, Mets 6 (in 10)
The Cardinals jumped out to a 4-0 lead against R.A. Dickey, but the Mets battled back like they did many times this year. The game was tied at four heading into the eighth, when both teams swapped runs.
With the game tied at five, Angel Pagan blasted his first career walk-off home run. That was the only walk-off home run of the year for the Mets.
6. May 1: Phillies 1, Mets 2 (in 14)
This was a marathon Sunday Night game. Coincidentally, this was the night Osama bin Laden was captured. The crowd broke out in U-S-A chants with Daniel Murphy at the plate. The players had no idea what was going on.
It was a great pitcher's duel between Chris Young and Cliff Lee. The bullpens did a great job as well, until Kyle Kendrick gave up an RBI double to Ronny Paulino. In his Mets debut, Ronny Paulino went 5-for-7 along with the game-winning RBI.
5. August 26: Braves 0, Mets 6
This game wasn't a dramatic late-inning win, but it was undoubtedly the best pitching performance by a Mets player this season.
Chris Capuano threw a complete game two-hit shut out, while striking out 13 Braves. Many consider this to be the best pitching performance by anybody in the league. Ervin Santana gave up a run in his no-no. Justin Verlander walked one and only struck out four in his, and Francisco Liriano surrendered six walks in his no hitter against the White Sox.
Whether or not it was the best outing in all of baseball is debatable, but Capuano was absolutely dominate that night.
4. August 8: Padres 8, Mets 9
This was an absolutely crazy back and forth game at Citi Field. The Mets led 4-1 after three innings. The Padres put up a three spot in the sixth, and then seemingly put the game out of reach with a four-run eighth. Then things got a little interesting in the bottom half.
A few weeks earlier, the Mets had claimed Queens native Mike Baxter on waivers from the Padres. Well, Baxter made his Mets debut in this game when he pinch-hit in the eighth inning. He ripped an RBI double to left field.
It was 8-6 when former Mets player Heath Bell came in for the save. David Wright drove in a run, and a few batters later Lucas Duda came through with a two-run single up the middle. Duda really came a long way this season, and he had multiple clutch hits for the Mets.
The fact that this one came against Heath Bell made it a little more satisfying.
3. September 22: Mets 8, Cardinals 6
The Mets assumed the role of spoiler in September this season. They played both wild-card contenders and did not roll over for either the Braves or the Cardinals.
The Cardinals led 6-2 heading into the ninth inning, all set to gain a game on the Braves. The Mets, however, had other ideas.
Justin Turner walked in a run and Jose Reyes drove in another with a single. Then, after working quite an at-bat, Ruben Tejada clubbed a double to left field, driving in two runs to tie the game. Tejada is another young Mets player who has developed so much this season. A couple batters later, Willie Harris delivered the decisive blow. He hit a two-run single to right field to put New York on top 8-6.
The Cardinals went quietly in the ninth to end a very impressive comeback victory for the Mets.
2. July 8: Mets 5, Giants 2
If you recall, this was a pretty important game for the Mets. This was the final series of the first half, and the Mets were still in the hunt for the Wild Card. They had yet to trade Carlos Beltran, so there was still some debate whether he should be dealt or not.
Like most Giants games, this was a pitcher's duel. It was tied at two when Brian Wilson came in for the ninth inning. Pinch-hitter Scott Hairston crushed a fastball over the left-field wall, putting the Mets on top. The Mets added two more insurance runs, and won the game 5-2.
A tie-breaking solo home run doesn't seem especially dramatic or exciting, but it really was. I mentioned the importance of the game at the time, and Hairston's homer seemed to lift the spirits of the team. It's too bad the Mets lost the next two games before the All-Star break.
1. July 3: Yankees 2, Mets 3 (in 10)
It seems like most people either love or hate interleague play. I think it's great, especially the rivalry games like this. As a fan, I definitely have a little added angst when watching Subway Series games.
The Mets and Yankees met at Citi Field over Fourth of July weekend this season, and the Saturday game was, in my opinion, the best one of the season.
Brett Gardner tripled leading off the eighth inning, and he came around to score the go-ahead run on a sacrifice fly. It was 2-1 when Mariano Rivera came in for the ninth inning, and he quickly retired the first two Mets to face him. He then walked Jason Bay, and allowed a single to Lucas Duda. Up came Ronny Paulino. Down to his final strike, Ronny delivered an opposite-field RBI single to tie the game.
It was an up and down season for Jason Bay, but he delivered the walk-off RBI single with the bases loaded in the 10th inning.
The Yankees will be playing in October and the Mets will not. It isn't much of a consolation, but Mets fans can look back on this Subway Series game very fondly.