Mike Piazza likely had the best Cinco de Mayo of his life nine years ago today. On May 5, 2004, the Mets great celebrated the anniversary of General Ignacio Zaragoza Seguin leading a ragtag Mexican army to victory over French troops at the Battle of Puebla by conquering a Jerome Williams fastball and sending it over Shea's right-center wall to become baseball's all-time home run leader among catchers. The blast, a typically Piazzaeqsue laser beam line drive to the opposite field, was 352nd he hit while in the lineup as a backstop, breaking Carlton Fisk's record. Also going deep that day were Mike Cameron and Shane Spencer, whose eighth inning shots broke the game open and helped the Mets emerge victorious against the San Francisco Giants on Piazza's landmark day.
Johan Santana also had a pretty good Cinco de Mayo last year. The lefty threw seven solid innings of three-run ball against the Diamondbacks to win his first decision since undergoing surgery to repair his anterior capsule 20 months earlier. Despite striking out 29 batters in 24 innings and posting a 2.25 ERA across five April starts, Johan ended the month with an 0-2 record thanks to some anemic offensive showings by the Mets offense and an epic LOLpen meltdown. On May 5, however, the normally anemic Mike Nickeas and Andres Torres each chipped in two-RBI singles while Bobby Parnell and Frank Francisco each chucked a scoreless frame to make Johan a 4-3 winner.
Juan Acevedo is the only Met to have a May 5th birthday. The right-hander pitcher was born 43 years ago in Ciudad Juárez, which is named for former Mexican president Benito Juárez. It was during Juárez's first administration that the Battle of Puebla was fought and thus the first Cinco de Mayo celebrated, too. Acevedo threw 47-plus roughly average innings of relief work for the Mets in 1997. Since 2005, however, he's been plugging away in the Mexican League. So far this year, he's compiled a 2-2 record in six starts for Rieleros de Aguqscalientes.
Game of Note
Two Hall of Fame pitchers matched up at Shea Stadium on May 5, 1965: lefty Warren Spahn for the Mets and right-hander Jim Bunning for the visiting Phillies. Each went the distance and put up almost identical lines, permitting just five base runners while striking out four and five batters respectively. The difference maker in this game was that one of the hits Spahn allowed cleared the fence for a solo home run. To make matters worse, Bunning was the guy who took him deep. Final score: Jim Bunning 1, Mets 0.
Amazin'-ly Tenuous Connection
Since I've already seamlessly woven some Cinco de Mayo facts into the fabric of this piece, let's use this section to point out that Cy Young threw the first perfect game in modern MLB history 109 years ago today. Two pitchers mentioned earlier have tenuously connections to Young's feat. While no Mets pitcher has ever retired 27 batters in a row, Johan Santana did throw the team's first no-hitter last season. New York has been the victim of a perfect game, though. That came courtesy of Warren Spahn's tormentor Jim Bunning, who goose-egged the Mets on Father's Day 1964.