Bob Murphy had seen it all while doing the play-by-play through the Mets' first 18-plus seasons, but on this date in 1990 he had apparently seen too much. Going to the bottom of the seventh in Philadelphia, the Mets had a 9-0 lead and two innings later they were still comfortably ahead, 10-3. But in the bottom of the ninth, Murph was at the mike when the Phillies struck seven consecutive ground-ball singles off of Wally Whitehurst and Julio Machado to make it 10-8, with runners on first and third and none out.
John Franco came in and walked John Kruk to load the bases before getting the speedy Len Dykstra on a double play that scored the Phils' ninth run and pushed to potential tying run to third base. Then, on Franco's second pitch to Tom Herr...well, here's how Murph called it:
"Line drive...it's caught! It's over. They win. The Mets win the ballgame. They win the damn thing by a score of 10-9." A mild expletive even by 1990 standards, Murph had never uttered "damn" on the air before and never did again through his remaining 13 years in the broadcast booth. For the record, it was little-used Mario Diaz, playing shortstop, who caught the damn line drive.
Other Games of Note
With Casey Stengel on the shelf with a broken hip, Wes Westrum was victorious in his debut as interim manager on this date in 1965. In the first game of a Sunday doubleheader, the Mets beat the Phillies 8-1, with eight different players each scoring one run. Reality quickly set in as the Amazins' dropped the nightcap and went on to lose 20 of their next 24 games.
Runs, and subsequently wins, were rare for the Mets in 1978, so a 9-2 win over the Big Red Machine should have been the big news. But on July 25 their triumph was upstaged by Pete Rose, whose third-inning single off of Craig Swan extended his hitting streak to 38 games, breaking the previous mark set by Tommy Holmes. Holmes, a long time member of the Mets front office, came onto the field to congratulate Rose amid rousing cheers by the crowd at Shea Stadium.
Sharing a birthday today are set-up man Guillermo Mota, age 40, and closer Billy Wagner, 42. They also share the blame for giving away Game Two of the 2006 NLCS against the Cardinals, the former blowing a two-run lead and the latter taking the loss following a three-run meltdown. For the record, lefty Wagner was an effective closer for the Mets, saving 101 games in 118 opportunities, posting a 2.37 ERA and 4.3 K/BB while averaging almost 11 strikeouts per nine innings. The elbow injury that shut him down in August of 2008 was the biggest blow to the Mets postseason hopes that season. Conversely, the Amazins would have been better off in 2007 without Mota, especially down the stretch when he compiled an ERA of almost eight in 21 games.
Amazin'-ly Tenuous Connection
On this date in 2006, heavy metal band Metallica ended its holdout against the music download concept and made its entire back catalog available on iTunes and Napster. This included their eponymously titled 1991 album and its lead track, "Enter Sandman," the entrance song for the aforementioned Mr. Wagner. The former Mets closer had been using it for more than 10 years when he arrived at Shea Stadium in 2006, well before the Yankees' Mariano Rivera adopted it in 1999. Fans of the Bronx team, with their characteristic sense of entitlement, took umbrage at Wagner trotting in from the bullpen using "Mariano's song." but the two closers had no problem with sharing "Enter Sandman." The Mets' connection with Metallica goes back to 1987, when the band's manager, Peter Mensch (a Mets season ticket holder), upon hearing that Sid Fernandez was a fan of Anthrax, sent the Mets lefty a bunch of Metallica T-shirts.