Jun 15, 2019

Remembering Mets History: (1999) Mike Piazza's Club Record 24 Game Hit Streak

May 25th 1999: Bobby Valentine's Mets were in second place just one & 1/2 games behind the Atlanta Braves. The Mets were in Pittsburgh taking on Gene Lamont's fifth place Pirates.

With the Mets already ahead 1-0 in the 4th inning, Mike Piazza hit his 9th HR of the year, a solo HR off Kris Benson. Piazza would have three hits & drive in three runs on the day. It was the start of his club record tying 24 game hit streak.

Piazza had come in to the game already batting .302 when the hit streak began. The next night Piazza got one hit in the 5-2 win over the Pirates. From there the Mets came home to Shea Stadium, hosting the Arizona Diamondbacks. This was the worst stretch of the year for the '99 Wild Card winning Mets team, as the would lose eight in a row, all six on the home stand & two of three in the subway series at the Bronx.

Piazza remained steady he would have three straight games, where he collected two hits, all against Arizona. He then would get a hit in all five of the next games as well.

On Sunday June 6th, the Mets finally broke out of their slump. They shelled New York's Roger Clemens in the Sunday Night Baseball subway series finale'. In the 3rd inning already ahead 4-0, Piazza blasted a long two run HR off Clemens, his tenth of the season. The Mets rolled on to a 7-2 win behind Al Leiter. The Mets went on to win 12 of their next 14, with a stretch of six straight mixed in as well.

The next night on June 7th, Piazza drove in two runs & hit a solo HR off the Blue Jays Roy Halladay, in an inter league game with the Blue Jays at Citi Field. The Mets swept that series from Toronto & Piazza had a four game stretch where he collected two hits in each game. The next series brought the Boston Red Sox to Shea & the Sox snapped the four game win streak. Piazza provided all the Mets runs with a two run HR off Tom Gordon.

With Piazza's hit streak at 18 games, the Mets moved on to Cincinnati for series with the Reds, whom they play in a tie breaking playoff game to determine the wild card winner at the end of the season.

The Mets swept that series in the midst of their six game win streak, in the first game Piazza hit his 13th HR continuing the streak at 19. On the night the Mets had HRs from John Olerud, Edgardo Alfonzo & Ricky Henderson in the 11-3 win.

Piazza would collect a pair of hits in each of the next two games, including scoring what turned out to be the winning run on Robin Ventura's HR in St. Louis. In the next two games at Busch Stadium, Piazza hit HRs in both games. his 14th & 15th respectively. The Mets took two of three & the Piazza hitting streak was at 22 games as the Mets came back home to Shea.

On June 22nd 1999; the second place Mets (39-31) hosted the fifth place Florida Marlins. The Marlin pitchers held Piazza down without a hit until the 8th inning. In the bottom of the 8th, Piazza led off against pitcher; Vic Darensbourg. Piazza blasted his 16th HR, a long shot down the left field line. The streak reached 24 games, tying the Mets club record set by Hubie Brooks in 1984.

On June 23rd Piazza was held hitless by the Florida Marlins in a 6-3 Mets win, officially ending the streak at 24.

The record still stands today, 17 years later. In 2007 David Wright joined Piazza & Brooks with a 24 game hit streak of his own.

The next night Piazza was finally stopped at 23 games, the Marlin pitchers Brian Meadows & Mike Mantei shut him down for an 0-4 night.

During the hit streak Piazza collected 37 hits, raising his average to .326. He hit eight HRs & drove in 18 runs. The Mets as a team went 14-10.

Mid Nineties Mets Pitcher: Dave Mlicki (1995-1998)

David John Mlicki was born on June 8, 1968 in Cleveland, Ohio. The 6’ 4’ right hander graduated from Oklahoma State University and got drafted by his hometown Cleveland Indians in 1990.

After going 11-9 in 1992 at AA Canton -Akron, he was brought up to the Indians staff making his debut on September 12th at Comiskey Park in Chicago. In four appearances he went 0-2 with a 4.98 ERA.

In 1993 he pitched just six games (2-1) in the minors & just three games with no record in Cleveland. The next season he was 6-10 at AAA Charlotte & then In November 1994 he was traded with Paul Byrd and Jerry Dipoto to the New York Mets for Jeromy Burnitz and Joe Roa.

Mlicki debuted as a Met on April 29th 1995 earning a victory, pitching in just one inning of relief against the St. Louis Cardinals. The Mets won it in the bottom of the 11th inning on a Joe Orsulak base hit.

After two games as a reliever he quickly got into the starting rotation, and earned his second win at Houston, pitching seven innings allowing just one run against the Astros. He then won two games on a west coast road trip & was 4-1 by mid June. He allowed three or more earned runs in ten starts from the end of May until August 1st, and took four straight losses.

From that point on he got better, closing out the year winning five of his last seven decisions.

One of his best outings came on August 7th at Shea Stadium, where he had a ten strikeout performance over seven innings, against the Florida Marlins. On the ’95 season he made 25 starts, going 9-7 with a 4.26 ERA, striking out 126 batters in 160 innings.

He made just two starts in 1996, allowing over five earned runs in each of them before spending the rest of the year in the bullpen. In May & June he was 3-1 with a save and three holds to his credit. Overall Mlicki made 51 appearances going 6-7 with one save, eight holds & a 3.30 ERA.

In 1997 he was back in the starting rotation, and struggled at the start going 0-4, not earning his first win until May 30th. In early June he was 1-5 when he beat the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field, & then the next week pitched one of the best games of his career.

On June 16, 1997, in the first ever regular season Subway Series meeting between the Mets & their A.L cross town rivals, Mlicki pitched a historic complete game shutout. He struck out eight, scattering nine hits while walking only two.

The win got him a lot of media attention and he would forever be immortalized in Mets history.

Quotes: "I knew it was a big game when I did it and it's amazing that it's meant so much to so many people," says Mlicki. "I remember the day after, my wife and I were out to breakfast at a diner and people were talking about the game and no one had any idea I was sitting there.”

Mlicki won his next start as well, allowing just two runs over eight innings at Shea Stadium against the Pittsburgh Pirates. He took two losses & then beat the Cincinatti Reds with a strong seven inning one run performance on July 20th.

In August he lost three straight games, before earning wins against the Padres & the Blue Jays. He ended the year at 8-12 with a 4.00 ERA, leading the staff in starts (32) and was the only pitcher on the staff to throw a shutout. He also allowed the most runs (89) & hits (194) on the Mets staff as well. Mlicki struck out 157 batters while walking 66 in 193 innings pitched.

His fame faded away quickly, after going 1-4 in the beginning of 1998, he was traded along with Greg McMichael to the Los Angeles Dodgers for Hideo Nomo & Brad Clontz. He went 7-3 for the remainder of the season in Los Angeles then was then traded to the Detroit Tigers in April of 1999. That year he had his best season leading the third place Tigers staff in wins going, going 14-13 with a 4.61 ERA.

He dropped to 6-11 in 2000 and was traded to Houston for Jose Lima in June of 2001. He went 7-1 from July to September 24th, finishing the year at 7-3 getting to the post season.

Post Season: In Game #2 of the NLDS he took the loss against the Atlanta Braves, even though he didn’t allow any earned runs over five innings pitched.

He retired after the 2001 season going 4-10. In his ten year career Mlicki posted a lifetime 66-80 record and a 4.72 ERA, striking out 834 batters in 1232 innings pitched. His 6.089 strike out per nine inning ratio is ranked at 218th all time.

Former Mets First Round Draft Pick: Calvin Schiraldi (1984-1985)

Calvin Drew Schiraldi was born on June 16, 1962 in Houston, Texas. The tall six foot five right hander was first offered a contract by the Chicago White Sox but chose to go to college instead.

He pitched at the University of Texas where he won the College World Series, with future Red Sox team mates, Spike Owen & Roger Clemens. He was voted the Series Most Outstanding Player, getting chosen by the New York Mets in the 1st round of the 1983 draft (the 27 pick overall).

In 1984 he went 14-3 with a 2.88 ERA for the AA Jackson Mets, getting promoted to AAA Tidewater where he went 3-1 with a 1.15 . The Mets brought him up that September, and gave him the start on September 1st at Shea Stadium against the Padres. In his first start he gave up five runs on eight hits, getting relieved in the 4th inning by Tom Gorman but earned no decision. Later that week he took his first loss getting shut out 2-0 by Rick Rhoden in a game against the Pittsburgh Pirates. He made five appearances that month going 0-2 with a 5.71 ERA.

In 1985 Schiraldi made the Mets talented staff in April getting his first start in the 16th game of the season. Although he allowed five runs over six innings against the Cardinals in St. Louis, he still earned his first career victory.

He spent two weeks on the DL, in May and then returned to get a win in San Diego on June 2nd. By the middle of June his ERA was near ten at 9.78 & he was put in the bullpen to pitch relief. He had a loss & two blown saves before getting sent back down to AAA Tidewater at the end of June. He went 4-4 there posting a 3.50 ERA in 17 games. Calvin returned in September finishing the year at 2-1 with an 8.89 ERA allowing 26 earned runs in 26 innings.

On November 13th 1985 (the anniversary of when the Odd Couples Felix Unger was asked to remove himself from his place & residence) Schiraldi was traded to the Boston Red Sox. This was the same trade that brought Bobby Ojeda to the Mets. Schiraldi, John Christensen, Wes Gardner and LaSchelle Tarver all went to the Boston Red Sox for Ojeda, John Mitchell, Chris Bayer (minors) & Tom McCarthy. This was a good deal for the New York Mets & haunted Shiraldi in the post season.

In Boston he was converted to a full time reliever at AAA Pawtucket joining the big league Red Sox squad by midsummer. He ended up taking over the Sox closer job, impressing manager John McNamara with some quality outings. At the end of the season he had posted a 1.41 ERA with nine saves & a 4-2 record in 25 appearances.

Post Season: In the 1986 ALCS he appeared in four games, taking the loss in Game #4 when the Angels Bobby Grich hit a walk off HR in the 11th inning, giving the Angels a 3-1 Series lead. But the Red Sox came back to win the Series & Schiraldi earned the save in Game #5 in California.

In Game #7 he struck out the side in the 9th inning sealing the Sox 8-1 victory & the AL pennant. It was off to the World Series against his old Mets team mates. His World Series started out well, as he got the save in the tight 1-0 Game #1 at Shea Stadium.

The next time Met fans saw him at Shea, was in the classic Game Six. He was introduced by the P.A. announcer as Queens “We Will Rock You” blasted through the sound system. 56,000 Shea Faithful sang along (including me who was in attendance). This was one of the first times this song was played at a baseball game to my knowledge.

Then it was the now legendary haunting chants of “Caaaalvin” that echoed through big Shea Stadium, obviously shaking the young pitcher up.

He entered Game #6 with a one run lead in the bottom of the 8th inning. Lee Mazzilli singled, then Len Dykstra bunted & reached base. Wally Backman bunted the runners over, & Keith Hernandez was intentionally walked. Gary Carter then hit a sac fly to tie the game. The Red Sox took the lead 5-3 on a HR by Dave Henderson, and Schiraldi came on in the 10th to try to close it out & win the Sox first World Series since 1918.

He got the first two outs, before allowing three straight singles by Gary Carter, Kevin Mitchell & Ray Knight. He was knocked out of the box to even louder chants of “Caaaalvin” getting relieved by Bob Stanley. The rest is history, as Stanley threw a game tying wild pitch & Mookie Wilson hit a slow roller that got by Bill Buckner at first scoring the winning run.

In Game #7 he appeared yet again, relieving Bruce Hurst who had shut down the Mets through six innings, in a 3-3 tie game. Ray Knight led the inning off with a dramatic HR that proved to be the game winning run. He then allowed two singles & a wild pitch before getting removed by former Met Joe Sambito. A little over 48 hours prior the Sox were on the verge of winning their first World Series in almost 70 years, now they were going home as runner ups to the Mets. Schiraldi had to go back to Boston as the losing pitcher in those two devastating defeats with a 13.50 Series ERA.

In 1987 he rebounded to go 8-5 with six saves, although his ERA was high at 4.41. The next year he went back to being a starting pitcher and fell to 9-13 with a 4.38 ERA. That winter he was traded to the Chicago Cubs with Al Nipper for closer Lee Smith. He would spend the next three years with Chicago, the San Diego Padres & the Texas Rangers posting losing records every year, finishing his eight year career in 1991.

Lifetime he posted a 32-39 record with 21 saves a 4.28 ERA, & 471 strike outs in 553 innings pitched with 235 appearances.

Retirement: After his playing days he became a pitching coach at St. Michael’s Catholic Academy in Austin, Texas.

Jun 14, 2019

50th Anniversary of The 1969 Mets: Donn Clendenon Arrives On the June 15th Trade Deadline

50th Anniversary of the 1969 World Champion "Amazing Mets"

June 15th 1969: On this day, the New York Mets added the final piece to their championship puzzle on trade deadline. Mets GM Johnny Murphy's decision that the Mets were going for it & that they were true contenders, had him negotiate for Clendenon in the final hours before the deadline. This decision changed the course of Mets history.

The New York Mets were in second place, 9 ½ games behind the Chicago Cubs at the time, but were starting to attract some attention. They had great young itching and some good hitting but lacked a strong power threat & run producer.

They found their man in Donn Clendenon.
Clendenon had a controversial year prior to his arrival in New York. In January 1969, he was left unprotected by the Pittsburgh Pirates and got selected in the expansion draft, by the Montreal Expos. He was quickly traded to the Houston Astros for Rusty Staub. But Clendenon wasn't happy about going to Houston, he had had a falling out with then manager, Harry Walker back in their Pittsburgh days. 

Instead of going to Houston, Clendenon announced his retirement. He was to work as an executive for the Scripto pen Company. Commissioner Bowie Kuhn stepped in and told the teams to work something out. Mostly due to the fact, that Montreal had promoted Rusty Staub as the face of their new organization to their French Canadian fans. 

In the end the Expos sent Jack Billingham and Skip Guinn to Houston and Clendenon continued to play for Montreal. It took a sit down meeting with former New York Giants Hall of Famer, Monte Irvin, who was working for the Commissioner's Office at the time, to convince Clendenon to come back to play. $14,000 for his troubles, certainly helped. 

Clendenon's tactics of retiring instead of accepting the trade was the first of its kind. In a changing baseball landscape of the late sixties, this was another advantage for the players. Soon after, "The Hawk" Ken Harrelson & Curt Flood would do similar actions.

When he returned, he was out of shape & struggled at the plate. In 38 games he hit .240, with 4 HRs & 14 RBIs. The Expos decided to trade him & this time Clendenon didn't balk at the idea. 

On June 15th, 1969 Clendenon was traded to the New York Mets for Steve Renko & Kevin Collins. As soon as he arrived in New York he made a difference, scoring runs in his first two games. He would hit 12 HRs with 37 RBIs in 72 games, platooning at first base with Ed Kranepool. 

Quotes- Donn Clendenon: " I don't see how a lifetime .280 hitter who has knocked in a lot of runs should be sitting on the bench of an expansion team which is losing."

Clendenon was happy to play for Gil Hodges who he called his idol. Clendenon gave the Mets power against lefties and more strength off the bench. They overcame the 9 ½ game deficit, and on September 24th Clendenon's three run HR helped the Mets clinch the NL East title.

In the 1969 World Series, Clendenon was the Series MVP. He set a record with three HRs in a five game series, and his home runs in Games Two, Four and Five meant the winning run each time. He hit .357 with 3 HRs, a double, 2 walks, and 4 RBIs.

In retrospect his teammates raved about his presence on the club: Tug McGraw said "he was probably the key to our whole season,". Wayne Garrett called Clendenon the last ingredient the team needed. Art Shamsky called him the catalyst and Bud Harrelson, said "We never had a three-run homer type of guy, yet he was humble, never cocky, our MVP.”

Trivia: Tom Seaver remembers his wife spotted Clendenon in the hotel lobby when he joined the team."I know who you are," Nancy said. "Donn was wearing an island shirt and vest, he turned to her and suavely kissed her hand. Nancy thought Donn was charming; he knew she was my wife and put on a little show.

Donn Clendenon said- "It's great to be a Met".

Remembering Mets History: (1983) Mets Acquire Keith Hernandez From St. Louis

In June of 1983, the Mets were 22-35 in last place in the NL East, 9 1/2 games back. They had been floundering at the bottom of the division since the whole organization fell apart in 1977. In the early eighties new ownership took over & the Frank Cashen GM era began. Things were slowly changing for the better, even though no one realized it -yet.

That year the Mets had brought Tom Seaver back home, brought up the Rookie of the Year Darryl Strawberry & had signed acquired slugger George Foster. And there were plenty of young players blossoming in the organization.

Mean while in St. Louis, the Cardinals were looking to deal former MVP & the previous year's World Series hero; Keith Hernandez. Hernandez a ten year veteran, was a popular player in St. Louis, had won a batting title & four Gold Gloves at first base. 

Cardinal Manager Whitey Herzog, was not happy with Hernandez's effort. Herzog felt Hernandez was lax on the field & the base baths. He was fed up with Keith going to the club house to do cross word puzzles & smoke cigarettes instead of taking more batting practice.

Herzog also suspected drug use, which was very common amongst many players in the early eighties. Keith later admitted to using cocaine during his 1979 MVP season and afterward. Herzog felt Hernandez was a bad influence on the team. He was also in the final year of his contract. The Cardinals also were looking to boost their starting pitching.

On the June 15th trade deadline, the shocking trade was made as Keith Hernandez was dealt to the New York Mets for Neil Allen & Rick Ownbey. Allen was a quality relief pitcher (25-40 with 69 saves & a 3.54 ERA in five seasons with New York). Allen was transitioning to a starting role. Ownbey was 2-5 with the Mets in two seasons as both starter & reliever.

Hernandez learned about the trade as he was taking batting practice, twenty minutes before it was announced. He then called his agent to find out whether he could block the trade.

Quotes- Keith Hernandez: “I wasn’t shocked that I was traded, I was shocked that it was to the Mets. I could tell a trade was coming because I knew I wasn’t in Whitey’s good graces.”

Mets catcher John Stearns said it was “the biggest heist since the Thomas Crown Affair”.

Hernandez was devastated by the trade, he did not want to play in New York on the last place, hapless Mets, he even considered retiring. Eventually he talked to his brother, his agent & former team mate George Hendrick who all helped change his mind.

GM Frank Cashen also helped him believe in all the positives taking place in the organization. The Mets Rusty Staub finally convinced him about all the advantages playing in New York has.

Eventually everything worked out fine, the Mets became one of the winningest teams in the NL over the next five years, winning a Championship in 1986.

Hernandez found a new motivation & became one of the leagues best players in that time, becoming the Mets team Captain. The rest is Mets history.......

Allen remained a starter for two seasons before going back to the bull pen in 1985 but was never highly effective again. Ownbey would play in just 21 games for St. Louis before disappearing.

Jun 13, 2019

Remembering Mets History: (2015) Thor K's 11 In An Exciting Walk Off Win

Monday June 15th 2015: Terry Collins first place Mets (35-30) were opening up a three game series against John Gibbons third place Toronto Blue Jays (34-31).

The Mets were holding onto a one & a half game lead in the NL East over the Washington Nationals, as the mighty bats of the Blue Jays were just two games out of first place on an eleven game win streak.

Former Met Jose Reyes was returning to Citi Field in a Blue Jays uniform, and former Blue Jays number one pick (2010) Noah Syndergaard was facing his old organization for the first time. 

Tonight's game would be a three & a half hour battle, going eleven innings featuring eleven different pitchers with an exciting walk off win. The Mets donned their camouflage Military jerseys

Starting Lineups

The Blue Jays Jose Bautista started out the scoring with one of his two HRs on the night, putting the Jays up 1-0. Syndergaard would not allow another run through six innings &gave up just one more hit as well. His blazing fastball would strike out 11 Toronto hitters, his second highest K total on the year.

Buehrle held down the Mets scoreless until the 6th inning, as he clung to the 1-0 lead. In the home 6th, Kevin Plawecki reached on an error & was sacrificed over to second by Syndergaard. Juan Lagares & Ruben Tejada both followed with back to back doubles putting the Mets up 2-1. Buehrle would pitch seven innings allowing two runs on four hits with five strike outs.

The Mets bullpen had Carlos Torres & John Leathersich pitch scoreless innings, leading the way to Jeurys Familia.  In a rare occasion Familia served up a lead off HR to Jose Bautista tying up the game. It was Bautista's second of the night & 13th of the year. Familia allowed just six HRs all season.

The game went to extra innings & in the top of the 11th with Hansel Robles on the mound, Ezequiel Carrera walked, moved to third on Chris Colabello's single.
Both players had come in as substitutes in the 9th inning.

Then Dioner Navarro hit a sac fly scoring Carrera with the go ahead run.

In the home 11th the Mets got Ruben Tejada to reach with a walk off reliever Brett Cecil. Michael Cuddyer then grounded into a force making it two outs. Lucas Duda then hit a troublesome fly ball into the hole at short stop & third base. With the Jays playing him deep & to pull, the ball fell in & with Cuddyer hustling with two outs, he scored all the way from first to tie the game.

 Now the Mets & the Citi Field fans were excited, John Gibbon changed pitchers & Wilmer Flores came to bat. Flores delivered with a base hit up the middle scoring Duda with the exciting walk off run. The Mets took two of three in the inter league set with Toronto.

Remembering Mets History (1965): Johnny Lewis Spoils Jim Maloney's No Hitter

Monday June 14, 1965: On this evening Casey Stengel's  New York Mets (21-39) already in last place, visited Crosley Field in Cincinnati to face Dick Sisler's Reds (31-26) who were tied for third place in the NL. 

A small crowd of just 5989 showed up to see the Mets, Frank Lary go up against ace Jim Maloney. Maloney had won 23 games in 1963 (23-7) and would win 15 games or more for six straight seasons. 

In 1965 he was an All Star second best on his staff with a 20-9 record. Today would be a record setting day for Maloney, as he set down the Mets with a no hitter through nine innings.

Starting Lineups

In the 2nd inning, Maloney walked the Mets Ed Kranepool, the only base runner he would allow thru nine innings. In this incredible performance Maloney also struck out 18 Mets batters, 17 of them through the first nine innings. Maloney is one of seven pitchers to strike out 18 batters in an extra inning game, with Nolan Ryan doing it three times.

The Mets Frank Lary did a good job himself, as he shut out the Reds through eight innings allowing just five hits, with three strike outs & a walk. Lary known as the AL New York team killer, had spent 11 years with the Detroit Tigers (123-110). 

Lary came to the Mets in 1964 went 2-3 and was traded to the Milwaukee Braves for Denis Ribrant. His contract was then purchased by the Mets again in 1965.

Larry Bearnarth came on in relief in the 9th inning, pitching three scoreless innings himself, allowing two hits with a strike out & a walk.

In the top of the 11th inning, the Mets Johnny Lewis led off with a HR, spoiling the no hitter & the shut out as well, it was 1-0 Mets. Maloney did allow one more hit in the inning to short stop Roy McMillan. 

Bearnarth allowed a single to Frank Robinson in the home 11th but that was it, he earned the 1-0 win, with Maloney taking a heartbreaking loss.

Trivia: Maloney would pitch a no hitter in 1969 against the Houston Astros. The next dat The Astros Don Wilson would toss a no hitter against Maloney's Reds.

Johnny Lewis spent three years with the Mets, with 1965 being is best year, 15 HRs 15 doubles 45 RBIs while batting .245.