Oct 31, 2017

Al Leiter- The Mets Years (1998-2004)

Al Leiter debuted with the Mets in the second game of the 1998 season, losing to the Philadelphia Phillies at Shea Stadium. He won his next three starts closing out April at 3-1. On May 23rd he pitched a four hit shutout, beating the Milwaukee Brewers at Shea Stadium.

From that day to the end of June, Leiter won six straight games lowering his ERA to 1.60. After missing three weeks of action he returned to go 8-2 the rest of the year.

In his first season with the Mets Leiter had his best career season, becoming the ace of the staff winning a career high 17 games. He was 17-6 with the league’s third best ERA (2.47) and was second in the NL in hits allowed per nine innings. He pitched 193 innings struck out 174 batters & walked just 71.

In 1999 he was Bobby Valentines Opening Day pitcher, but was gone after five innings, as he took the loss in Florida against his old Marlins team mates. He had a rough start to the season finding himself at 2-5 by the end of May.

He turned it around in June going 5-0 in the month, never allowing more than three runs in a game & going at least into the seventh inning all but one time. On June 6th he beat the AL New York club allowing just one run in seven innings in the subway series held in the Bronx. That month he also beat the Boston Red Sox & the Marlins twice.

On August 1st, Leiter struck out a season high 15 batters at Wrigley Field in a 5-4 win over the Cubs. He pitched seven innings allowing just two runs on seven hits. As he entered September he was 10-9 and then he beat the Colorado Rockies pitching into the 9th inning on September 4th allowing just two runs in the 4-2 Mets win.

He then he lost his next three starts as the Mets were fighting for a wild card finish. During the last week of the season he beat the Atlanta Braves at Shea Stadium allowing just two runs pitching seven innings. Then he had his best outing of the year in the Mets biggest game of the year, after they ended the regular season tied for the wild card title.

Wild Card Playoff: Leiter was brilliant in the one game playoff against the Cincinnati Reds at Riverfront Stadium. He threw a two hit complete game shutout striking out seven Reds while walking four. He helped bring the Mets into their first post season in thirteen years.

In the Mets wild card winning season he went 13-12 with a 4.23 ERA, striking out 162 batters with 93 walks (6th in the league) pitching in 213 innings. At the plate his 11 sacrifice hits were 8th best in the league.

Post Season: In the '99 NLDS against the Arizona Diamondbacks he got the start in Game #4 at Shea Stadium. He went into the 8th inning with a 2-1 Mets lead but with two outs gave up a walk & a base hit. He exited the game giving the ball to Armando Benitez. Benitez allowed a two run double to Jay Bell blowing the chance for Leiter to earn a victory. The Mets came back & won it on Todd Pratt’s now famous walk off HR, winning the Series advancing to the NLCS.

In the NLCS Leiter faced off against Atlanta’s Tom Glavine In Game #3 at Shea Stadium. In the first inning the Braves scored on an unearned run after a Mike Piazza error, the run was the only one scored in the game & Leiter took a heartbreaking 1-0 loss.

In the game he pitched seven strong innings allowing no earned runs on just three hits. He returned in Game #6 but never got past the 1st inning, as the Braves roughed him up scoring five times & he was relieved by Pat Mahomes.

In 2000 he took a step back becoming the number two starter behind newly acquired Mike Hampton. After playing the first two games of the year at the Tokyo Dome in Japan, the Mets had their official home opener on April 3rd. Leiter got the start beating the San Diego Padres after allowing just one run over eight innings. Leiter was sensational in the first part of the season; he was 5-0 by mid May pitching his first complete game at at Pittsburgh on May 11th, striking out eight Pirate batters.

On July 1st he struck out a season high 12 batters in a victory against the Atlanta Braves at Shea Stadium. He went into the All Star break with a 10-2 record posting a 2.99 ERA, making his second All Star team. He pitched the 4th inning of the Mid Summer Classic at Atlanta’s Turner Field allowing two runs & earning the National League loss.

His best outing during the second half of the season came against the San Francisco Giants at Shea Stadium on August 12th when he struck out 12 batters matching his season high. He allowed no runs on two hits in eight innings pitched. On August 23rd he pitched eight innings in San Diego allowing just one run on three hits, matching his season high 12 strike outs for the third time.

He went 6-6 the rest of the season finishing off the year leading the Mets staff in wins with 16. He went 16-8 with a .667 winning percentage. He struck out 200 batters (5th in the NL) for the second time in his career, throwing 208 innings of work while posting a 3.20 ERA (6th best in the NL). Leiter led the league with a perfect .1000 fielding %, for the first of three seasons.

Post Season: Leiter started Game #2 of the NLDS in San Francisco against the Giants. He held the Giants down to one run on five hits pitching into the 9th inning. He allowed a leadoff double, giving way to Armando Benitez who blew the Mets 4-1 lead. Benitez allowing a three run HR to J.D. Drew, but the Mets came back to win it on Jay Payton’s single in the top of the 10th inning.

In the NLCS against the St. Louis Cards, Leiter started Game #2 at Busch Stadium. He pitched seven strong innings, allowing three runs on eight hits, leaving the game tied at 3-3. The Mets went on to win the game after a Jay Payton RBI single in the top of the 9th inning.

He opened up the 2000 subway World Series in the Bronx, pitching another quality start. He left Game #1 with a 3-2 lead after seven innings pitched, and striking out seven batters. Armando Benitez blew that lead as the Mets lost a heart breaker in extra innings.

In the final Game #5 he pitched his heart once again at Shea Stadium. He pitched into the 9th inning allowing three runs on seven hits & three walks. He had struck out nine batters as well. After a walk & a single he served up an RBI base hit to Luis Sojo.

Unfortunately the Mets offense couldn’t get anything going for him in the bottom of the inning once again. Leiter pitched two World Series games with 16 strikeouts in 15 innings pitched posting a 2.87 ERA.

On Opening Day 2001 he pitched a fine game seven innings, allowing two runs in Atlanta but earned no decision in the Mets 6-4 win over the Braves. He then struggled losing his next three games. He rebounded winning three straight beating the Los Angeles Dodgers at home & the Expos & Marlins at home. He then struggled & lost five of his next six starts finding himself at 4-8 at the break. He pitched his best at the end of August into early September winning four straight games pitching into the 7th inning or beyond three times.

 On August 26th he pitched eight innings against the Giants allowing just three runs in the 605 Mets win. He earned another victory in his next star when he pitched eight innings once again, this time against the Marlins. He allowed just one run & struck out seven for win number ten on the year.

In September he made the start in the first game after the 911 attacks. He allowed just one run in seven innings but exited in a 1-1 tie. The Mets went on to win it as John Franco got the victory. He then had two good outings against the Braves, one at home & one in Atlanta.
He pitched eight innings each time, allowing just one run both times but earned no decisions due to lack of run support.

On the year he was 11-11 but pitched better than his record showed. He posted a 3.31 ERA (8TH in the league) as the Mets fell to 82-80 finishing in third place. Leiter struck out 142 batters, walked 46 in 187 innings pitched.

In 2002 he beat the Pittsburgh Pirates on Opening Day pitching six innings of one run baseball. On April 18th he pitched a two hit shutout in Montreal striking out eight Expos. He had a good start on the year going 5-2. By the All Star break he was 9-7 posting a 2.95 ERA. He was just like the team bouncing around at the .500 level the rest of the way.

On the first anniversary of the September 11th attacks, Leiter threw another complete game shutout, this time a five hitter against the Braves in Atlanta. On the year he went 13-13 with 172 strike outs & 69 walks, pitching in 204 innings while posting a 3.48 ERA.

For the 2003 season, he took a back seat to the newly acquired Tom Glavine as the ace of the staff. Leiter won his first three starts, beginning with a win against the Chicago Cubs in the second game of the season.

He pitched well enough to be 10-5 at the end of July although his ERA was up at 4.81. He went on to go 15-9 on the season, second on the staff in wins to Steve Trachsel who won 16 games. Leiter was ninth in the NL in wins that season. He struck out 139 batters while walking 94 (5th most in the NL) pitching 180 innings and posting a 3.99 ERA.

2004 was his final Mets season as the 39 year Al Leiter’s career began to wind down. He started out 2-2 but then won six out of seven games over the next two months. He made his last Mets start on October 2nd, getting no decision in an outing against the Montreal Expos at Shea Stadium. He won ten games overall on the year, going 10-8 with a 3.21 ERA pitching in thirty games.

In his seven year Mets career he made 213 starts (6th on the all time Mets list) he won 95 games (95-67) which is also sixth on the Mets all time list. 

He is seventh in innings pitched (1360) & strike outs (1106) with a 3.42 ERA. He is tenth in winning % (.586) & losses (67). As a Met was in the league's top ten in ERA four times, wins three times, strikeouts twice and threw at least one shut out in four different seasons.

In 2005 he went to the Florida Marlins going 3-7 through mid July when he was sent to the A.L. New York club to finish out his career. Lifetime over nineteen seasons he was 162-132 (214th all time in wins) with 1974 strikeouts (74th all time), 1163 walks (61st all time), 16 complete games, 10 shutouts and a 3.80 ERA in 2391 innings pitched in 419 games.

Retirement: He began broadcasting games while still a player during the post season games on Fox. He angered a lot of Met fans working as an analyst on the YES network from 2006-2008.

In 2009 he signed on for MLB Networks inaugural season as an in studio reporter. Leiter has considered running for political office on the Republican ticket in the state of New Jersey. He was appointed as member to the NJ Sports, Gaming, and Entertainment Committee.

Leiter who was seen at many Bruce Springsteen concerts especially the ones at Shea Stadium in 2003. He was on hand for the closing ceremonies of Shea Stadium in 2008 & got a luke warm greeting due to his ties with the cross town rivals.


2000 NL Champion Mets Pitcher: Al Leiter- Part One (1987-1997)

Alois Terry Leiter was born October 23, 1965 in Toms River, New Jersey. He went to high school in Bayville New Jersey at Central Regional high.

Leiter grew up a huge Bruce Springsteen fan and was a local New Jersey baseball star. He was drafted by the AL New York team in the second round of the 1984 draft. 

His older brother Mark Leiter, attended Ramapo College & was drafted by the Baltimore Orioles a year earlier. Injuries delayed Mark's career until 1990 when he debuted for eight games with the AL New York club. He would go to the Detroit Tigers (1991-1993) having a best 9-7 year in 1991.

Mark pitched for the California Angles (1994) San Francisco Giants (1995-1996) where he won ten games (10-12) in 1995. Mark Leiter moved onto Montreal Expos (1997) Philadelphia Phillies (1997-1998) Seattle Mariners (1999) & then was injured for two more years making a brief comeback with the Milwaukee Brewers in 2001 (three games). In his 11 year career he is 65-73 with a 4.57 ERA in 335 games. 

Older brother Al Leiter, pitched in the minor leagues under the .500 mark in his three seasons before making it to the big leagues. Al Leiter made his MLB debut on September 15th, 1987 in New York beating the Milwaukee Brewers in a six inning one run performance. He struggled with blisters and injures the following year After being hyped up and only going 4-4 in 1988, the impatient organization gave up on him He was traded to the Toronto Blue Jays for Jesse Barfield in April of 1989.

There he had to have elbow surgery and struggled with injuries up until the 1992 season. In his first four seasons in Toronto he only pitched in nine games total. He was aboeard for the Blue Jays championship seasons & the hey day of the Sky Dome when it was billed as the 8th wonder of the world. He appeared mostly as a reliever in the Blue Jays 1993 post season, making 12 starts in 34 appearances. He was 9-6 with two saves & a 4.11 ERA.

Post Season: He appeared in two games of the ALCS against the Chicago White Sox. In the 1993 World Series he got the win beating the Philadelphia Phillies, Curt Schilling in Game #1 at Toronto. At the plate he hit a double in Game #4, while allowing six runs in two innings of work in the Blue Jays 15-14 win.

In 1994 he was back in the starting rotation but was limited to twenty games going 6-7. In 1995 the Blue Jays glory days were over as they fell to fifth place. Leiter was 11-11 with a 3.64 ERA leading the league in walks (108) & wild pitches (14). After six years with the Blue Jays he signed as a free agent with the Florida Marlins in 1996.

In Miami his career turned around, as he went 16-12 with a 2.93 ERA (3rd best in the NL) and made his first All Star team in his first season there. In 1997 Leiter won 11 games while losing nine, as the Marlins went on to win the World Series. He was the number three pitcher behind Kevin Brown (16-8) & Alex Fernandez (17-12).

Post Season: In the NLCS against the Atlanta Braves, Leiter was the losing pitcher in Game #4 at Florida. He allowed four runs in six innings taking the loss to Denny Neagle who pitched a complete game four hit shutout. In the World Series against the Cleveland Indians,

Leiter started in Game #3 at Cleveland, allowing seven runs (four earned) in just 4.2 innings of work. The Marlins rallied to win a wild 14-11 victory.

Leiter got the ball for Gme #7 in Florida, he went six innings allowing two runs & leaving the game behind 2-1. The Marlins rallied to win it in the bottom of the 9th on Edgar Renteria's walk off base hit. Overall in the 1997 post season he appeared in five games and went 0-1 with an ERA over six.

During that off season the Marlins management had a huge fire sale, selling off most of thier high priced top players. Leiter was traded to the Mets for two minor leaguers and a young A.J. Burnett.

Oct 30, 2017

Remembering Mets History (2015): The Mets Win The 2015 NL Pennant

Wednesday October 21st, 2015: NLCS Game #4- Wrigley Field, Chicago

With a three games to none series lead, Terry Collins Mets were looking for the sweep tonight to advance to the 2015 World Series. They had the hottest hitter in the history of the world, Daniel Murphy ready to break the post season consecutive HR record & yet another fine young pitcher ready to start.

Steven Matz went up against Joe Maddon & the Cubs' Jason Hammel, hoping for a miracle. But in reality he didn't have a prayer.

Curtis Granderson led off the game with a line drive base hit to left field. Next David Wright struck out & then Daniel Murphy actually popped out to third base. 

With two down, Granderson eventually stole second base. Next, Yoenis Cespedes drew a walk putting two men on for Lucas Duda.

Sooner or later it was going to happen, it was long over due, Duda cracked a HR to the center field bleachers quickly putting the Mets up 3-0.

Duda had hit 27 HRs in the regular season, and had been slumping throughout the playoffs, setting a new strike out record going down 13 times. The crowd at Wrigley Field went quiet & although they put their heart into it at certain times during the rest of the night, most of the life was sucked out of them.

Then before Mets fans could catch their breath & realize what was happening, the next Mets batter Travis d'Arnaud hit a solo HR of his own. It was 4-0, the Mets were never to look back it was only matter of getting 27 outs & they would be the National League Champions.

The Cubs were dead, they were out played in all areas of the game for four straight games. Maybe it was the curse of the Billy Goat, who's name happened to be Murphy, or that black cat who came out at Shea Stadium in 1969, peering his back luck into the Cubbies dugout, or maybe both of their ghosts returned to haunt the 2015 Cubs.

Trivia: The back to back HRs were the first Mets post season HRs, since Darryl Strawberry & Kevin McReynolds went back to back in the 1988 NLCS against the Dodgers.

The Mets sent nine batters to the plate in the 1st inning so it was the top of the order in the 2nd. David Wright drew a walk & Daniel Murphy then singled to left field. With two outs Lucas Duda came up & lines bullet to the right field wall. Wright & Murph both scored making it 6-0 Mets.

Trivia: In his first two at bats in this game, Duda set a Mets franchise record with five RBIs in a post season game.

Note: Yoenis Cespedes was taken out of the game in the 2nd inning, with sore shoulder.

Joe Maddon would go through seven Cubs pitchers on the night, by the way no sign of Arrieta or Lester, they were done days ago.

On the mound for New York, the Mets young starter, Steven Matz had a fine outing as he went into the 5th inning, allowing one run, on four hits, two walks & four strike outs. He was relieved by Bartolo Colon, who pitched 1.1 scoreless innings earning the victory.

Trivia: With that victory Bartolo Colon made history, by having the longest span between post season wins (14).  

Addison Reed, had a great three up three down inning 9in the 7th.

In the Mets 8th, another piece of Mets & post season history was made. That man again, Daniel Murphy connected for another HR. The two run shot was Murphy's 7th of the post season, in just nine games.

More importantly it was the sixth straight post season game in which Murphy homered, a new post season record. No one has ever done it before! Amazing.........

In the home 8th, Tyler Clippard had a shaky inning, serving up a two run HR to Kris Bryant making it 8-3 Mets. After an uneventful Mets top of the 9th it was onto the final three outs.

In the 9th it was once again Familia Time. Mets closer, Jeurys Familia came on and got Chris Coghlan & Tommy La Stella to both ground out. He then walked Miguel Montero to prolong the wait for the  celebration. But then fate was sealed, Familia struck out Dexter Fowler looking and the Mets were on to the World Series.

Familia dropped to his knees & was Greeted by catcher Travis d'Arnaud as they embraced the rest of the Mets piled on to the field & celebrated the NATIONAL LEAGUE PENNANT.

In Mets history, the Mets are now 5-3 in the NLCS & are going to their fifth World Series. They have beaten the Atlanta Braves (1969) Cincinnati Reds (1973) Houston Astros (1986) & St. Louis Cardinals (2000). In the Fall Classic they are 4-2.

NLCS Note: Terry Collins managed to squeeze 12 position players in the game tonight, everyone but back up catcher Kevin Plawecki & reserve infielder Matt Reynolds who has never played a major league game.


Quotes: Mets Broadcaster Howie Rose "You can not believe what has become of Daniel Murphy".

Remebering Mets History (2015): NLCS Game #3- Mets One Win Away From World Series

Tuesday, October 20th 2015: NLCS Game #3- Wrigley Field, Chicago

Wrigley Field has not hosted an NLCS since 2003 & the whole Moises Alou foul ball debacle. So an excited sell out crowd filled the Friendly Confines, with hope of getting back in the series.

Although there was a bit  of excitement early on, the Mets quieted the crowd beat the Cubs & are one win away, that's one win away from the World Series.

Jacob deGrom got the ball, looking for his third post season win, going against the Cubs Kyle Hendricks (8-7 / 3.49 ERA / 167 Ks).

The game started out a bit wacky, Curtis Granderson reached on an error by short stop Javier Baez but was thrown out trying to steal second. David Wright then singled & was brought home by Yoenis Cespedes double to left field. 1-0 Mets.

The Cubs tied it with a HR by Kyle Schwabler, his second of the series. Two out singles by Anthony Rizzo & Starlin Castro got the Cubs fans excited, but deGrom then got Jorge Soler to ground out to Wilmer Flores. A 29 pitch shaky inning, ended with just one run.

This was to be another night where deGrom did not have his best fastball but pitched like an All Star & made his off speed stuff work.

In the 2nd deGrom retired the Cubs in order.

In the top of the 3rd, in what has become an unbelievable familiar site, Daniel Murphy hit his sixth post season HR, his fifth straight post season game with a HR, tying the MLB record. Amazing, Muphy has made a name for himself forever in Mets post season history. 2-1 Mets.

Quotes: Mets broadcaster Josh Lewin: Whatever the aliens did to Murphy when they invaded his body a few weeks ago, Mets fans are saying; Thank you!

Maybe its the fact Yoenis Cespedes is hitting behind him, or D. Wright is batting in front of him. Maybe its because he's hitting in the three spot, something Keith Hernandez suggested a long time ago. Maybe its the post season luck, maybe its the fact that the name of the Billy Goat that cursed the Cubs was named; Murphy.

Or maybe its because the team was trying to trade him for two seasons, even though he was an All Star & was in the tops in the NL in hits in the regular seasons. Post season Magic??? What ever it is, we saw an incredible historic post season hitting performance.  Murph had 12 hits, 6 HRs 9 RBIs 9 runs scored a .364 average & a .382 on base % in these playoffs.

The Cubs tied it in the 4th on a solo HR by Jorge Soler. But deGrom settled in, and got into his groove, retiring the side in order in each of the next three innings. His line for the night, seven innings, two runs on four hits one walk & seven strike outs while earning the win. He was 3-0 in this post season up then with a 2.57 ERA.

In the 6th, there was some historic Amazing Mets magic mixed with some historic Cubs bad luck. Cespedes singled with his second hit of the night. Lucas Duda then finally took advantage of that shift teams put on him, he sacrificed, even though he was out, he moved Cespedes over to second.

Cespedes then stole third base, another stolen base surprise for Chicago. The Mets had stolen third five times all season & in eight post season games stole third four times..... Amazing

Next more spooky stuff- after a coaching visit to the mound, Pitcher Trevor Cahill strikes out Michael Conforto. BUT, the ball gets past  the catcher & in one of the oldest ball parks in the game with one of the longest distances from home plate to the backstop, the ball rolls all the way to the brick wall.

Cespedes easily scores from third base, with the go ahead run. Quite a heads up base running effort all around, as well as a great sacrifice by Duda, small ball at its best. Conforto safely gets to first base. Mets go up 3-2.

Trvia: It was just the second time in post season history a go ahead run was scored on a passed ball strike out.

Next, Wilmer Flores doubled to right field, as the ball got by Jorge Soler, displaying a horrible effort of defense. One of many Cubs blunders on the evening. But then the ball got lost in the Ivy & the ground rules prevented any runs from scoring.

But in the 7th, the Mets tacked on a couple of more runs. David Wright stretched a hit into a double (his third hit of the night) as left fielder Kyle Schwabler made another Cub blunder on the field.

Then Daniel Murphy had a great at bat, fouling off a bunch of Kris Bryant pitches, before getting an infield hit, while hustling out of the box & beating out the grounder. Murph is doing it all. Two more hits tonight, two more runs scored.

Cespedes then singled, his third hit of the night bringing in Wright with the fourth Mets run. Cespedes is now batting .273 with 9 hits 2 HRs 7 RBIs 7 5 runs scored in this post season.

Duda then bounced a ball to first base, Rizzo stepped on the bag first then threw to the plate, but a hustling Murphy was safe as the catcher Montero was off the base & could not make a tag. 5-2 Mets, all they needed as the pen did it again.

Tyler Clippard had an easy 8th & lights out Jeurys Familia saved his fifth 2015 post season game.

The Mets now lead the NLCS three games to none & ARE ONE WIN AWAY FROM THE WORLD SERIES!! Lets Go Mets!!!

Remembering Mets History (2015): National League Champion Mets Celebrate