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“Mets in 10s” Excerpt: Single-Game Hitting Performances

We’re back with another excerpt for your enjoyment.

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At age 34 and with 369 home runs to date, Carlos Delgado brought veteran savvy and a powerful bat to Queens. For three years, he didn’t disappoint in either department. Delgado slugged 100 over the walls from 2006-08 and drove in 316. A hip injury in 2009, less than 100 at-bats into that season, derailed his career.
Jerry Coli/Dreamstime

The following was reprinted from Mets in 10s: Best and Worst of an Amazin’ History by Brian Wright and from Arcadia Publishing, which was released on April 9. For more, please follow the book on Facebook and follow Brian on Twitter and Instagram. You can order it on various book-selling sites, including Amazon.

10. Joe Foy vs. Giants (July 19, 1970)

For the duration of the spring and part of the summer, the Mets wondered when their prized new third baseman would awaken.

The futile Foy experiment, formulated the previous winter with the Royals in an exchange for young Amos Otis, equated to a lab exercise gone wrong—as Otis sizzled in Kansas City and Foy fizzled in New York.

One-third of Joe’s home run output and five of his thirty-seven Mets RBIs were encompassed in these ten innings at Candlestick Park.

A 5-for-5 day (which bumped his season batting average up eighteen points) featured a double and two home runs, the latter coming in extras to procure a 7–6 win and giving a nominal glance of what the Mets thought he would be.

On the heels of Ron Swoboda’s homer, Foy tagged Skip Pitlock with a two-bagger. A pair of singles—one in the fourth that drove in Donn Clendenon and another in the seventh that brought home Clendenon and Ken Singleton—were sandwiched in between his two long balls and helped overcome the Giants’ early advantage.

Better late than never, even if it was never duplicated again.

9. Alex Ochoa vs. Phillies (July 3, 1996)

In 2005, as a member of the Chunichi Dragons, he hit for the cycle—some nine-and-a-half years and a world from his first. It registered little, if no attention, in the United States. For Ochoa, it brought his circuitous and once-bright baseball life full circle.

Twenty-two games into his MLB career—a career that began with adorned promise—he briefly fulfilled the combined hitting and speed potential scouts had longed bragged about.

At Veterans Stadium, Ochoa—obtained in the Bobby Bonilla swap the previous July—went 5-for-5 with two doubles, a triple, a homer and three runs scored. His twelve total bases were one shy of the franchise record. He became the sixth Met to hit for the cycle—and did so in style.

Batting in the eighth, needing a home run, Ochoa completed the illustrious hitting sequence by going deep to left-center—breaking a 6–6 tie in the process. The sore left shoulder caused by an earlier collision with the right-field wall suddenly didn’t feel so bad.

New York scored three more, the last of which came when Ochoa tallied an RBI double in the ninth.

8. Darryl Strawberry vs. Cubs (August 5, 1985)

Many outcomes for hitters and pitchers at Wrigley Field are swayed simply by which way the wind blows.

Strawberry dealt with a multitude of distractions. The airstream wasn’t one of them.

Breeze direction relegated minor significance to the Mets’ 7–2 win over Chicago, which thrust the Mets into first place. Darryl, on the other hand, was the deciding element—a gust of air behind his team’s back, if you will—in carrying New York forward.

Two home runs—one of the three-run variety in the first inning and a solo shot in the third (both with two outs)—were the day’s downfall for Cubs starter Derek Botelho.

Darryl Strawberry remains the Mets’ all-time home run king with 252.
Jerry Coli/Dreamstime

After being intentionally walked in the fifth (something the Cubs probably should have tried more often), Ron Meredith—entering for seventh-inning relief—had his opportunity to crack the Strawberry code. But he’d be consigned to the same fate. This was the first three-homer game in Strawberry’s promising career and the first of 1985 by a National Leaguer.

A ninth-inning single was the result of Strawberry ’s lone chance at attaining home run no. 4 (and a share of the major league record). Inconsequential in relation to what he did earlier, but it still guaranteed a perfect showing at the plate to go along with five RBIs and four runs scored.

7. Dave Kingman vs. Dodgers (June 4, 1976)

Strawberry became the third Met to attain the round-tripper trifecta—a chain begun by Jim Hickman twenty years earlier and seconded by Kingman eleven years after that.

As Tom Seaver was shutting out LA to the tune of three hits, Kingman let three fly to the sky in the City of Angels—accounting for eight of his club’s eleven runs.

A strikeout victim to end the previous night with the tying and winning runs on base, the temperamental slugger took his frustration to the clubhouse by tossing hangers, equipment and a hairdryer.

he next night, the only damage done was on the field—to the baseballs thrown by Dodger pitchers. A pop-up and a strikeout were obscured by the outpouring of power, activated by a two-run fourth-inning homer that broke a scoreless tie. As the Mets offense around him continued to set the table, Kingman cleaned house.

Some hitters swing for the fences. Dave Kingman swung for the moon. He set a Mets single-season record with 36 in 1975, then surpass it with 37 the next year.
Jerry Coli/Dreamstime

Following a fifteen-game stretch of three RBIs and struggles with men in scoring position, he sized up Burt Hooton and Al Downing for three-run blasts in the fifth and seventh, respectively.

The eight RBIs set a club record previously held by Donn Clendenon since 1970.

6. Jeromy Burnitz vs. Expos (August 5, 1993)

Rookies were more nuisance than pleasure in the mind of Dallas Green. The disenchantment he expressed for Burnitz in a little more than a year together dissipated when the June call-up delivered a four-hit, two-walk showing at Montreal’s Olympic Stadium.

New York’s manager pleaded for someone—anyone—to incite some semblance of a stimulus during—at thirty and a half games out—what amounted to a lifeless and hopeless ’93 season.

Burnitz, who eventually turned into a late bloomer and an All-Star in Milwaukee, batted fifth and represented himself superbly. A first-inning run-producing single initiated a deluge of runs on both sides.

Of course, he had much to do with it—and his grand slam in the fifth broke open New York’s advantage.

But when Met pitchers threw away their passing prosperity by letting a 9–1 lead evaporate in a matter of two innings, Burnitz (who also tacked on another single in the seventh) was prepared to salvage them—even if he had to wait until the top of the thirteenth.

His fourth hit brought in Ryan Thompson and Joe Orsulak to pad what was a one-run lead, making it a seven-RBI afternoon in his thirty-seventh big league game.

5. Kevin McReynolds vs. Cardinals (August 1, 1989)

A seven-loss spell usually is an agent for change. The Mets sank into this swoon, prompting Davey Johnson to severely reshuffle his lineup. But he didn’t remove (or move) McReynolds, who welcomed the turn of the calendar following a modest .255 July average with two home runs and fourteen RBIs.

In an 11–0 New York romp of the Redbirds, 1988’s NL MVP contender packed the bulk of the Met brawn—hitting for the cycle and accounting for six runs.

Doubling and scoring to open the top of the second got McReynolds and his team back in sync. A fourth-inning groundout was merely a momentary lull because McReynolds marked homer off the cycle to-do list with a sixth-inning shot that increased the New York lead by three.

The easiest of his four tasks—the single—came in the eighth and produced another RBI. The toughest, for most, took place in his last at-bat one inning later. And as a trio of Met runners came in to score, it was as productive as a triple could be.

This night instigated McReynolds’s best month of ’89, in which he drove out nine, drove in twenty-four and compiled sixty-two total bases.

4. Wilmer Flores vs. Cubs (July 3, 2016)

The message was heard loud and clear.

As José Reyes’s impending arrival to the Mets beckoned a change in third base starting duties, Flores delivered his own stark signal to anyone feeling he should take a back seat.

If fear of losing your job is a motivating factor, then Wilmer was inspired six-fold.

The grand marshal of New York’s pre–July 4 hit parade initiated a thirteen-batter second-inning procession and brought about Jon Lester’s demise by smacking a home run to center—which ended a personal 0-for- 14 drought.

On July 31, 2015, Wilmer Flores became a cult hero in Mets history with his walk-off homer just days after nearly being traded. Less than a year later, his six hits against the Cubs put him in the Mets’ record book.
Wikimedia Commons

He returned with a single to left that plated Yoenis Cespedes—sending Chicago’s Cy Young candidate to the showers after a painful 1.1 frames.

It so happened that no Cubs pitcher enjoyed this afternoon—or this series. As the Mets finished on the long end of a 14–3 drubbing with twenty-two hits (equaling a franchise home record), they outscored the eventual champs 32–11 in a four-game sweep to evoke memories of last year’s NLCS.

Flores himself was also in a record-making mood. His other four at-bats ended with three singles and a fifth-inning homer, to match a Mets’ single-game high for hits.

3. Carlos Delgado vs. Yankees (June 27, 2008)

For the second time, the teams from the Queens and the Bronx engaged in a same-day, two-stadium doubleheader. Delgado didn’t wait to put on a show for the partisan crowd at Shea. Instead, he saved his best swings for the lefty-friendly fences at old Yankee Stadium.

Three hits registered nine runs batted in—the most by a Met in a single game, breaking a record previously held by Dave Kingman. His pair of home runs moved him one spot up on the all-time home run list—a place also once owned by Kingman. A bad day to be “Kong.”

Delgado’s initial two trips to the plate ended empty. But with a host of Mets aboard for his final three turns at-bat, he capitalized on the ample RBI chances presented.

A fifth-inning double scored two and put the Mets in front to stay. Then, in the sixth with the bases loaded, a single flick of his wrists turned a relatively close contest into a blowout.

That made it 11–4. When it was 12–5 in the eighth, Delgado didn’t ease up. Instead, he ought three more runs—locking in on a LaTroy Hawkins pitch and depositing it into the right-field stands.