Journeyman right-hander Pat Mahomes was a winner in his Mets debut on this date in 1999. It was the first of eight victories he would collect that season without a loss, and, while he may have been in the right place at the right time, he earned every one of them. Time and again he came in to stop the bleeding or limit the damage to give his teammates a chance to fight back. In those eight wins he pitched 20 innings and yielded only one run.
Mahomes entered the game on May 14, 1999, in the fourth inning with the Mets down 6–5, and held the Phillies in check for 2.1 innings while the Amazins chipped away and took the lead. A quartet of Mets relievers pitched the remaining 3.1 innings to seal the deal.
Mahomes’s ability to handle the bat enabled manager Bobby Valentine to keep him in longer, sometimes for three or four innings, and on more than one occasion he contributed a key hit in a Mets rally. In a season in which the Mets needed 163 games to reach the postseason, Pat Mahomes’s contribution was huge. While it may not show up in his WAR, he won many important battles.
Tyler Walker, turning 37 today, literally and figuratively sweated out a win in his only start as a New York Met. Known to perspire profusely on the mound, Walker, on September 7, 2002, needed 98 pitches to get through five innings, giving up a two-run home run to Jimmy Rollins, five other hits, and four walks while striking out only two. He left the game trailing 3–2, but a two-run homer by Roger Cedeno made him pitcher of record on the winning side. After the Mets tacked on an insurance run, Walker sweated through an ugly save by Armando Benitez, who walked four of his first five batters before slamming the door to secure a 5–4 New York victory.
Happy 61st birthday to baseball lifer Rick Waits. A pretty good pitcher for some mediocre teams in the 1970s and early 1980s, he signed on as pitching coach for the Gulf Coast League Mets in 1995 and worked his way up the ladder in that role, rung by rung. After four years of looking after the arms of the Triple-A Norfolk Tides, Waits became Art Howe’s bullpen coach in 2003 and was in line to replace Vern Ruhle as pitching coach for the 2004 season, but the Mets opted for another Rick (Peterson) instead. He continued to work in the Mets’ minor league system until Seattle made him a better offer in 2011.
Amazin’-ly Tenuous Connection
Legendary fashion and portrait photographer Richard Avedon would have been 90 today. In the 1980s, he shot more than 200 magazine covers, including five years’ worth for GQ. In 1986, not one, but two championship-bound New York Mets were Avedon’s GQ cover subjects: Keith Hernandez in April and Ron Darling in August. Darling, whose mother is Chinese-Hawaiian, became the first man of Asian descent ever to be featured on the magazine’s cover.