Today's the anniversary of a couple firsts in New York Mets history. On this date in the team's inaugural season, Frank Thomas and Charlie Neal became the first Mets to hit back-to-back home runs when they took starting pitcher Jim Owens deep in the sixth inning of a game against the Phillies. One batter later, Gil Hodges launched a shot off his own off reliever Jack Hamilton to make it the first back-to-back-to-back home run streak in team history. Trailing 6-1 at the time, the consecutive long balls trimmed four runs off of Philadelphia's lead and helped the Mets complete an 8-6 come from behind victory. The win also improved the team's record to 2-12 on the year.
Three seasons later, on April 28, 1965, Tug McGraw earned his first MLB decision when he took the L in a 12-9 loss to Houston at the Astrodome. Brought in to bail starter Galen Cisco out of a bases-loaded, no out jam in the bottom of the sixth, Tug walked Jimmy Wynn and Walt Bond to force home a pair of runs. That was all manager Casey Stengel could stand to see. The Old Perfessor yanked the rookie screwballer in favor of Al Jackson, who promptly served up a single that plated Wynn with the game's decisive run.
- Lute Barnes, an infielder who spent parts of 1972 and '73 with the Mets, turns 66. Barnes hails from Forest City, Iowa (pop. 4,151), where according to the municipal motto, "Nature's Close and Friends are Closer". Lute's closest friend on the Mets, according to Baseball Reference, was Ted Martinez. Of Barnes's seven career RBI, three brought home his fellow infielder.
- Dillon Gee is 27. One year ago, Gee started against the Rockies on his birthday and struck out seven Rockies in seven to earn his second W of the 2012 season. Who knows how Gee plans to celebrate today, but Mets fans would probably appreciate it if his birthday wish was to regain the form he showed 365 days ago sometime soon.
- Jorge Sosa is 35 years young today. In 2005, Sosa posted a 13-3 record with the Atlanta Braves due in no small part to the fact that he limited hitters to a .194 batting average with runners in scoring position, a mark that dropped to .063 when the bases were loaded. Mets fans can attest that whatever luck Sosa had with working out of jams had run completely dry by April 2008. In 16-plus innings of relief work that month, Sosa allowed two grand slams and essentially turned every batter he faced into Vladimir Guerrero by letting them rough him up for a .324/.390.554 triple slash line.
- Tom Sturdivant would have been 83. A reliever who made 16 appearances for the Mets in 1964 before retiring, Sturdivant began his career across with the Yankees. He won 16 games for the Bronx Bombers in both 1956 and '57, but injured his rotator cuff shortly after that and never pitched quite as well again.
Game of Note
Jim Edmonds, J.D. Drew, Albert Pujols, and Ray Lankford all homered against Mets pitching to give the Cardinals a 5-2 lead heading into the ninth at Busch Stadium on April 28, 2001. WIth no proven closer in his pen, manager Tony LaRussa opted to leave rookie right hander Gene Stechschulte, who'd retired the heart of the Mets order on three strikeouts one inning earlier, in the game for the six-out save opportunity. Jay Payton opened the frame with a leadoff single, which brought former Card Joe McEwing to the plate. Super Joe worked the count to 2-1, then aped his old teammates by connecting for a two-run shot. In typical LaRussian fashion, the St. Louis manager decided to start playing the match ups, though none of the myriad moves he made worked. Rey Ordoñez doubled off of new pitcher Dave Veres and one batter later pinch hitter Edgardo Alfonzo did the same off of Steve Kline to tie the game.
Things remained knotted 5-5 until the top of the eleventh. That's when when Benny Agbayani brought home Desi Relaford with the game-winning run. Armando Benitez retired the Cardinals without issue in the home half and even punctuated the extra-inning affair by retiring Bobby Bonilla on a weak grounder to first. Final score: Mets 6, Cardinals 5.
Amazin'-ly Tenuous Connection
Ferruccio Lamborghini, the Italian industrialist who founded the automobile line that shares his name, was born in this date 97 years ago. His eponymous sports cars have long been a favorite among professional athletes and adorned the background in many a kick-ass Costacos Brothers posters. It's probable that several Mets players have owned Lambos at some point (Lenny Dykstra, Vince Coleman, and, for some reason, Dave Mlicki strike me as the most likely candidates), though we only have photographic proof in the case of Francisco Rodriguez. Back in 2011, this white whip reported to the Mets spring training facility one day before the embattled closer showed up.