RYAN: Seven no-hitters.
The Mets knew early there was something special about Nolan Ryan, he with the electric arm that threw thunderbolts that sizzled.
On this date in 1968, Ryan established a then club record by striking out 14 Cincinnati Reds. “I threw nothing but fastballs the last two innings,’’ said Ryan, then 21.
Ryan pitched in parts of five seasons with the Mets and compiled a non-descript 29-38 record with a respectable 3.43 ERA.
Ryan’s stay in New York was interrupted with stints in the National Guard, wildness, and blisters that required soaking his fingers in cups of pickle brine.
Above all Ryan never felt comfortable in New York, and the Mets, weighing all this and in need of a third baseman, dealt him to the Angels prior to the 1972 season.
The Mets were to receive All-Star shortstop Jim Fregosi, who was at the end of his career and would be shifting to third base. The trade sounded good in theory at the time, but a 27-year Hall of Fame career said the Mets clearly lost this deal.
However, the Angels let him get away, too, to Houston and then the Texas Rangers. When it was all over, Ryan had thrown seven no-hitters.
Few spots are etched in stone in a major league batting order. David Wright hitting third should not be one of them. So, on the day after Carlos Beltran hit three homers batting third while Wright enjoyed a day off, things are back to normal. Wright will bat third tonight at Houston; Beltran will hit fourth.
Wright is hitting all of .234 and below .200 over his past seven games. He’s striking out bunches and not hitting for power. Third should be reserved for your best overall hitter, and clearly that’s Beltran over Wright at this time.
Beltran is sizzling well over expectations and the Mets should take advantage of that and hit him third. Without Ike Davis, there’s a gaping hole at four and five. For now, I’d go with Bay and Wright until Davis returns.
There are more than a few things racing through my mind regarding the pending 49 percent of the Mets by the Wilpons. While the Wilpons will receive some financial relief, these questions remain:
Does the $200 million go to the Wilpons, or will it be put back into the team in the form of repaying the $25 million debt to Major League Baseball and to player acquisition?
Should the Madoff scandal go to court as expected and the Mets lose, what then? If the Wilpons are forced to sell, will the minority investor become the majority owner, or will the remaining 51 percent be sold piecemeal or in one unit?
What direction will the team take with the new minority investor? Can we interpret this to mean the Mets will be able to re-sign Jose Reyes, or will the team continue its austerity program?
What will the Mets’ new budget be for 2012 and beyond? We still won’t expect the Mets to be buyers at the trade deadline, regardless of how well the team is playing at the time.
And, here’s another missed no-hitter in Mets’ lore. On this date in 1970, Gary Gentry threw 7.2 hitless innings in Wrigley Field when Ernie Banks hit a fly ball to left. Dave Marshall gave chase, but dropped the ball. Banks received benefit of the hometown scoring and was given a hit and Gentry was denied his shot at baseball immortality.
GENTRY: Near no-no at Wrigley.
Gentry won 13 games for the Mets as a rookie in 1969 as the third starter behind Tom Seaver and Jerry Koosman.
Gentry pitched a four-hit shutout on Sept. 24 of that year to beat the Cardinals in the game that clinched the NL East. Gentry also beat Baltimore in Game 3 of the World Series.
On a side note, Nolan Ryan relieved Gentry for the save in what would become his only World Series appearance during his 27-year career.
Gentry pitched three more seasons with the Mets but was traded to the Braves in 1972. He sustained an elbow injury and was done in 1975 with a career 46-49 record.
After his release by the Braves, Gentry tried to return with the Mets, but that didn’t work out. Gentry did come back and was part of the closing ceremonies for Shea Stadium.
It’s still raining in Denver, so this lineup could be a moot point. But, here’s who the Mets are playing this afternoon behind Jonathan Niese:
Jose Reyes, SS
Willie Harris, 3B
Carlos Beltran, RF
Jason Bay, LF
Daniel Murphy, 1B
Justin Turner, 2B
Josh Thole, C
Jason Pridie, CF
Jonathan Niese, LP
COMMENTS AND NOTES: Six starters whose names begin with a “J.’’ Wonder if that’s some kind of record. That could be the best thing to be said about this lineup. … Beltran up to third in the order. If he has a hot game will Terry Collins leave him there for awhile? … Nick Evans is cold and both Zach Lutz and Lucas Duda are injured, which is why the Mets didn’t promote a first baseman. … Chris Young has opted for season-ending surgery. … Bobby Parnell will pitch tonight at Triple-A Buffalo.