As Reyes goes so the Mets go, they used to say. Indeed, it often felt like Jose was the kid with the flashlight bounding across neighbors' yards. The rest of the Mets, a bit bemused, kept a lookout and followed behind.
On this date, 2006, the Mets were up against it. The Cardinals led the NLCS by three games to two, but the battle had returned to Mets' turf. The previous night, New York had scratched only two runs against Jared Weaver, and now they faced the reigning Cy Young Award winner Chris Carpenter. Reyes scurried up to the plate, found his pitch, and wacked a lead-off homer to crow in the dawn.
He wasn't finished, either. John Maine put in yeoman's work, walking four but striking out five and allowing no runs on only two hits. Meanwhile, singles from Wright, Delgado, and Shawn Green put a score up in the fourth inning, and Maine exited in the sixth with a 2-0 lead. Reyes, who had singled and stole a base in the interim, continued a two-out rally with his third hit and another steal, coming around to score with Michael Tucker on Paul Lo Duca's single. 4-0 Mets. As a bonus, these last came against Brandon Looper. I was at Shea that night, and that was good fun I can tell you.
The Mets' middle relief didn't fall out of line, and the game was handed to Billy Wagner to close. Three quick hits against him scored two runs. At this point I regretted castigating fans who had flowed down the aisles in the eighth -- this was too interesting. But Wagner closed it out, and the Mets bounced into the seventh game of the Championship Series. Behind their leadoff man.
- Alex Cora, 39 today, was an eleven year veteran when he joined the Mets in '09 as a utility infielder, and as everything went wrong in '09, he wasn't the worst guy to have around. However, he wasn't worth his $2 million salary, and we all had a kanipshin fit when Omar gave out equal compensation in a one-year extension with a $2 million vesting option for 2011. Mercifully, Cora was released on August 7, 2010, and we never saw his vest.
- Andy Hassler, a 6-foot-5 Texan, is 61 today. The lefthander pitched 14 seasons in the majors with a 3.83 ERA and a 44-71 record. I wonder if guys with that kind of luck are more likely to hear saber out. In mid-career, he made eight starts and 21 relief appearances with the '79 Mets, walking 42 in 80.1 innings.