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The Best Starts in Mets History

Apropos of nothing, I didn't realize quite how good Comedy Central's evening programming is. Every weeknight, given a television set and a few hours, we are treated to:

7:00 - Scrubs
7:30 - Scrubs
8:00 - The Daily Show
8:30 - The Colbert Report
9:00 - Futurama
9:30 - South Park

So, sick as a dog, I sat on my ass for three hours straight watching TV last night. If you find yourself with a few hours to spare, don't hesitate to do the same.

Mets-wise, there's really nothing new going on, so I'm going to dip into Mets history for this one.

Though they have been blessed with the occasional superlative hitter, the Mets are a franchise that has been built on pitching. The franchise has featured zero MVPs but four Cy Young award winners, and three of its four Rookies of the Year have been pitchers. They have featured many other terrific pitchers who won nary an award with the Mets. Award-winners or otherwise, Mets pitchers have thrown some tremendous games over the years, and here are the five best.

  1. Dick Selma, September 12, 1965

    Selma only won two games for the Mets in 1965, but this one was a gem. A ten-inning, four-hit shutout, Selma struck out thirteen Braves while walking just one. The teams battled to a scoreless tie after nine innings, and Selma tossed a 1-2-3 tenth to set the stage for the Mets' dramatic victory. That victory came with two outs in the bottom of the tenth, as Charley Smith singled home Joe Christopher with the game's only run. Selma may not have the career resume of the other pitchers on this list, but this start was one for the ages.

  2. David Cone, September 20, 1991

    Cone allowed just two Cardinals to reach base -- one hit and one walk -- in a 1-0 shutout of St. Louis. Cone racked up eleven strikeouts, carrying a perfect game into the fifth and a no-hitter into the eighth. Mark Carreon provided the only offense Cone would need, scoring Gregg Jefferies from second with a two-out, RBI single in the sixth.

  3. Tom Seaver, May 15, 1970

    Tom Terrific allowed just one hit in a 4-0 shutout of the Phillies at the Vet. Seaver struck out 15 and walked three, posting a game score of 97, the second-highest nine-inning mark in Met history.

  4. David Cone, October 6, 1991

    The second of two brilliant starts by Cone in a three-week span saw Coney fan nineteen Phillies, tying the National League record for strikeouts in a game (at that time). Cone allowed three hits and one walk in the 7-0 shutout that pulled the Mets to within 20.5 games of first place, taking advantage of homeruns from the formidable top-of-the-order tandem of Daryl Boston and Keith Miller. Cone racked up a 99 game score, the highest nine-inning game score in franchise history and the ninth best (tied) in baseball history.

  5. Tom Seaver, July 9, 1969

    The Mets have never had a no hitter -- let alone a perfect game -- in their 45-plus year history, but this was the closest they came to either. Seaver retired the first 25 Cubs to face him, eleven of them by way of strikeout. With one out in the ninth, rookie center fielder Jim Qualls knocked a single into left-center field, breaking up the perfecto. Qualls would finish the season hitting .250/.266/.342 and would retire three years later a career .223/.238/.302 hitter in 144 plate appearances. But for one at-bat he was the biggest hitter in the game, a footnote to the enduring agony of the Mets' still-ongoing quest for their first no-no.

    The only one-hit, no-walk game in franchise history, this is the single-greatest game any Met hurler has ever crafted.

Honorable Mention
  • Rob Gardner, October 2, 1965 - Gardner hurled fifteen innings of shutout ball against the Phillies, allowing just seven baserunners along the way. Gardner wound up with a no-decision, as the game -- the second of a double-header -- was called after eighteen scoreless frames.
  • Tom Seaver, May 1, 1974 - Seaver allowed just one run over twelve innings, striking out sixteen Dodgers and allowing just three hits and a couple of walks. The Mets lost the game, 2-1, when Steve Garvey drove in Bill Buckner with the deciding run in the bottom of the 14th.
  • Dwight Gooden, September 12, 1984 - Gooden fanned sixteen Pirates en route to a 2-0 shutout. He allowed five hits and no walks, and the margin of victory came courtesy of a fourth-inning Hubie Brooks two-run homerun.
There have been plenty of others, to be sure. What are some of your favorites?