The New York Mets have always been a franchise that has had some of the best pitchers in all of baseball. They have had some tremendous pitchers throw incredible games throughout their careers in both regular season and postseason games. Here is a list of the top-ten pitching performances in Mets history.
10. Ron Darling; October 1, 1985
Ron Darling did not earn the win in this game but he pitched one his best games as a Met in his final start of the 1985 season. The New York Mets were currently three games back of the division-leading St. Louis Cardinals and faced them for a three-game series with six games left in the season. Darling tossed nine innings and allowed only four hits and no runs.
“Darling’s underrated because we have another guy (Doc Gooden) on this staff who takes the headlines away from him,” “He’s been toughest in our biggest games.”
Darling had an attempt at winning the game in the seventh inning but missed on a suicide squeeze attempt for his only blemish of the game. Despite winning the series, the Mets finished in second place and missed the playoffs as they would many years in the 1980s without the wild card.
9. Nolan Ryan Strikes Out 15
Nolan Ryan threw his best game as a Met on April 18, 1970. Ryan pitched a complete game and allowed only one hit. Ironically enough, this game was against Jim Bunning, who threw a no-hitter against the Mets the previous season. In typical Ryan fashion, he struck out 15 hitters but walked six batters as he was still a bit wild. The lone hit was from Denny Doyle of the Philadelphia Phillies.
8. Santana’s No-Hitter
It took until game number 8,020 in New York Mets history, but Johan Santana made history on a Friday night at Citi Field when he threw the first no-hitter in team history. Before the season, Santana had major shoulder surgery in 2011 and missed the entire year. The left-hander was having a strong season after his complete-game win over the San Diego Padres in his start prior to the no-hitter. However, facing the reigning World Series Champions in the St. Louis Cardinals, Santana had to work for everything. He walked four batters through the first five innings. He looked to have given up his first hit of the game to Carlos Beltran, but third-base umpire Adrian Gonzalez ruled the ball was foul.
In any event, Santana pitched a 1-2-3 sixth inning on 93 pitches. In the seventh, Mike Baxter made the play of his career catching a fly ball up against the left-field wall, which caused him to leave the game suffering a displacement of his right collarbone and fractured rib cartilage. While Santana had exceeded his 115 pitch limit set by manager Terry Collins, he continued to go out there and pitch, and on his 134th pitch, he struck out David Freese to complete the no-hitter.
Following the start, Santana was never the same and got beat up in his next start against the New York Yankees. He eventually had another operation on his shoulder in 2013, but will always be a part of Mets history with his performance.
7. Matt Harvey’s One Hitter
New York Mets’ fans certainly remember the decline of Matt Harvey, but the young phenom threw one of the best games in Mets history against the Chicago White Sox. Harvey flirted with a no-hitter through 6.2 before Alex Rios broke it up with an infield single. However, Harvey went on to pitch nine innings of one-hit baseball. The only problem was the Mets did not score.
Eventually, after Harvey exited, Mike Baxter had a walk-off single to give the Mets the exciting 1-0 win on one of Harvey’s greatest games in his Mets career. He was also pitching on three days of extra rest in a game that featured the memorable nose bleed. Harvey threw 105 pitches, with 76 of them going for strikes. He struck out 12 batters before Bobby Parnell came into the game in the tenth inning to earn the win.
6. Dickey’s Back-to-Back One-Hitter’s
R.A. Dickey was one of the greatest stories in all of baseball during the 2012 season. The journeyman pitcher found a home in New York with his unique knuckleball and pitched back-to-back one-hitters against the Tampa Bay Rays and Baltimore Orioles. His amazing stretch started in Tampa in a 9-1 Mets win. The lone hit in the game came somewhat controversial as Melvin Upton Jr. was credited with a single in the first inning on what the Mets thought was an error from David Wright.
Regardless, Dickey did not allow another base runner until the ninth inning when Wright was charged with a throwing error. The run came around to score, but Dickey got Carlos Pena to pop out to end the game as the right-hander struck out 12 batters.
In just his next start at home against the Orioles, Dickey once again was on his game. The lone hit came from Wilson Betemit in the fifth inning, and despite walking two batters in the game, Dickey recorded his second straight one-hitter. He struck out 11 hitters including J.J. Hardy and Chris Davis to end the game to move to 11-1. Dickey went on to win 20 games and won the Cy-Young Award in one of the most unlikely pitching seasons in baseball history.
5. Santana Shutout on Three Days Rest
In a must-win game, the New York Mets turned to Santana on only three days rest. He was coming off a win in his previous start where he pitched eight innings and allowed only two runs but threw 125 pitches. Santana never had pitched before on short rest but pitched perhaps the game of his career in a 2-0 win over the then Florida Marlins.
What made it even more impressive was Santana was pitching on a knee that was going to require surgery for a torn meniscus. However, he threw a complete game shutout as New York drew even in the race for the wild card. However, the Mets season came to a crashing end on the final day of the season as the Marlins beat the Mets 4-2.
Here were Jerry Manuel’s thoughts on the performance.
“Wow, wow, wow, wow,” . “I think if I had to describe that one, I’d say that was gangsta. That’s gangsta. That’s serious gangsta right there.”
4. AL Leiter NL Wild Card Tie Breaker
Al Leiter was having a rough 1999 season. While he had 13 wins, he had an ERA of 4.23, which was the highest in his Mets’ career. However, his whole season changed when he started the 1999 National League Wild Card Game against the Cincinnati Reds. Leiter faced off against Steve Parris and threw a complete game shutout allowing only two hits. The lone knocks cane from Jeffrey Hammonds in the second inning and Pokey Reese in the ninth. Despite walking four batters, Leiter struck out seven and got his final out on a lineout from Dimitri Young with runners on first and second to complete the shutout on 135 pitches.
Edgardo Alfonzo and Rickey Henderson homered for the Mets in the win as they moved on to face the Arizona Diamondbacks. New York won the series in four games before they eventually fell in the NLCS to the Atlanta Braves in six games.
3. Bobby Jones’ One-Hitter
Bobby Jones’ Mets career was pretty average, but he was never better than he was in Game 4 of the 2000 NLDS against the San Fransisco Giants. Pitching with a chance to close the series, Jones threw a complete game shut out.
Coming into the postseason, Jones had an ERA of above 5.00. Jones retired the first 12 batters that included Jeff Kent, Barry Bonds, and Ellis Burks. Eventually, Kent doubled for the only hit of the game. Despite issuing two walks in that inning as well, Jones set down opposing pitcher Mark Gardner to end the fifth inning.
The Mets went on to win 4-0 and advance to the NLCS and defeat the Cardinals in five games to advance to the World Series.
2. Doc Gooden Strikes out 16
In 1985, Doc Gooden had one of the best all-around seasons in major league history. You could have picked many games from this season. But in his 19th win of the season, Gooden was especially dominant against the San Francisco Giants. Gooden was hot and unbeaten in nearly three months. He allowed seven hits, but more notably struck out 16 batters in earning his 19th win. He also reached 200 strikeouts on the season in that game on August 20th.
”You’re looking at something special,” said Manager Davey Johnson, . ”You probably won’t ever see anybody at his age who dominates so completely. At 19 and 20, he’s 36 and 12 in two seasons. He wins three of every four games he pitches in the big leagues.”
The New York Mets won the game 3-0 as Gooden padded his resume with another gem to win the Cy-Young Award in 1985. He ended up winning 24 games that season and recorded 268 punch outs along with his stunning 1.53 ERA.
1. Tom Seaver’s Perfect Game into the Ninth
If there were ever a pitcher in New York Mets history that deserved a no-hitter, it would be Tom Seaver. The Franchise is not only the greatest pitcher in Mets history but is also one of the most popular Mets of all time. Seaver’s starts could all probably be mentioned in the top-ten, but here was his best.
On June 16, 1969, before the Mets had ever won a World Series, Seaver pitched the greatest game in Mets history when he came within one out of pitching a perfect game against the Chicago Cubs. With all the talent on that team, it was rookie Jimmy Qualls that broke up the masterpiece with a single in the ninth inning with one out. In any event, Seaver pitched a complete game and earned his 13th victory after striking out 11.
Aaron Heilman’s one-hitter (Marlins) April 15, 2005
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