The '86 Mets were down one game to none in the pennant series when they ran up against Nolan Ryan on his native Texan soil. Old timers saw an echo of the '69 past -- had it been 17 years? -- while newer supporters saw only a wise old Texas rattler would couldn't be skirted, who would have to get it on the head.
The first pass through the Mets order on this date, '86, failed to expose a weakness in Ryan. Dykstra, Hernandez, Backman, Carter, Strawberry, Wilson, Knight, Santana, Ojeda -- they took a look and they took their seats (five struck out). In the fourth inning, Wally Backman took the first wack, a single, then Keith Hernandez and Gary Carter singled and doubled in turn. Strawberry sac'd Hernandez home for a 2-0 lead. Meanwhile, Bobby Ojeda had navigated the shoals of four hits and a walk to keep all comers from home plate.
Backman was hero again in the fifth, coming up with two on and singling a runner home, after which Keith lined a double into the right field gap and took three bases. The 5-0 lead lasted into the seventh inning when Houston finally hung a run on Ojeda. But Bobby O powered through for the complete-game, one-run, 10-hit victory.
The Mets, 59-111 in regular season play in the Astrodome, packed bags for New York with the series tied.
- Bill Pulispher, a big lefty, was a big-time prospect. In '94 he threw a postseason no-hitter for Bingo and was Player of the Year in the Mets Minors. With Jason Isringhausen and Paul Wilson, Pulsipher, 39 today, made up "Generation K." The lefty debuted in the big leagues in June of '95, looked hitable, and exited with arm soreness before the season's end. Tommy John surgery wiped out his 1996, and he looked wretched in the next season's minor league action until getting the help he needed for depression. The Mets gave Pulsipher just 14.1 more big league innings before deciding to part ways. He was traded at the deadline for Mike Kinkade.
- The Mets claimed Jason Pridie (turns 29) off waivers in February 2010 and gave him his major league debut in April the following year, when Angel Pagan hit the DL. He played way more than I remembered, batting .239/.301/.370 while appearing in 101 games. This year, his OPS was 1.000 in 10 PAs with the Phillies. Traitor!
- Jim Tatum (turns 45) played in 173 games across a five year career and hit .194, not too good for a 1B-3B. His last year in baseball was with the '98 Mets. He hit .180.
Game of the Night
On this date, 1999, the Mets walked off the diamond and into the National League Championship Series. Three games against the Diamondbacks had all been lopsided, the second in Arizona's favor and the other two in New York's. In Game Four, starting pitcher Al Leiter worked a 2-1 lead through seven innings against Brian Anderson. Leiter came back for an eighth and put two men on whom Armando Benitez couldn't keep from scoring. Fonzie kicked off the bottom half with a walk and came around on a sac fly after an outfield error gifted him third base. Benitez pitched a 1-2-3 ninth. Franco matched that in the tenth. And the stalemate only broke when Todd Pratt stepped up in the bottom. With one out and nobody on, the catcher cracked a home run to center field that barely cleared the glove of a leaping Steve Finley. Pratt was only in the lineup because of Piazza's bum thumb.
Amazin'-ly Tenuous Connection
Because of the implementation of the Gregorian calendar, October 5 - 14 did not exist in the year 1587 in Italy, Poland, Portugal, and Spain, early adopters of this now-standard calendar. For reasons having nothing to do with solar orbits and the 10 day drift of the spring equinox, these dates have been missing from Mets calendars for some time.